The Definition of the Word “in” – An Important Detail In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

You know how sometimes in law, the interpretation of one little word can make all the difference about how a case ends up turning out?

For instance, in my beef with Canada’s unaccountability-perpetuating electoral process, I started examining a very basic and seemingly straightforward word – “in“. But, do you know how many definitions there are for the word “in”? There are a lot. And there aren’t just a lot of definitions. There are subcategories within each definition.

So, turning to usage of the word “in” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that relates to elections. Section 3 states that every citizen has the right to vote “in” an election. There are two definitions of the word “in” that could apply here. One signifies inclusion, and the other signifies circumstance.

For example, the phrase “I am a pianist in a band” signifies inclusion. It means that as a person, I am included as a member in a group, right now, sort of like “the right to vote in an election” could be construed to mean a citizen has that right, right now, like all the other rights in the Charter. An example of circumstance, on the other hand, would be “my band plays in a festival”. The festival is the circumstance. While my band (in which I always have the right to some degree of direct input on decisions) gets to play in it for a few days, none of us have the right to partake in all the organizational and financial decisions of running the festival.

It is common for people to assume that section 3 of the Charter is using the definition of “in” that signifies a circumstance, the circumstance being that an election is arranged and the Charter requirement being that every citizen have the right to vote during the arranged circumstance/time. The result of this is that the representative that you chose at that moment (if also chosen by enough other people) can make decisions without having any regard for your wishes, until the next time you are given the opportunity to exercise your right.

With the other definition of the word “in”, the same section could be interpreted to mean that every citizen has the right to be included as a voter to choose a representative for their constituency. However, within the current electoral system, clearly the right provided by that second definition may only be exercised on one day, and then several years pass during which there is no way to exercise this right. In other words, a right that is guaranteed by law is not available to be exercised for a period of time. It is denied.

Fostering freedom and democracy

Charter rights are of course not ever supposed to be denied, as they are supposed to form the foundation of Canada’s justice. Of course charter (or constitutional) matters are not always perfectly black and white, so there is a sort of “exception clause”: section 1 of the Charter states that reasonable limits can be placed upon the rights and freedoms in the Charter, if those limits “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

It might seem like a safe assumption that there is no way to provide the right to vote at all without denying it for periods of time. This is commonly thought of as a reasonable limit, and assumed to be implicitly justifiable, leaving no need to demonstrate any justification for denial of this lawful right. Is it possible that this assumption is wrong?

The Interactive Sovereign Society (ISS) uses an interactive electoral system to choose its Prime Representative. Every member has one vote, which can be cast at any time and changed at any time after that. The Prime Representative is responsible, according to the ISS Constitution, for seeking agreement from the society’s members about what laws they are all required to follow. In this case, the right to be included as a voter in electing the prime decision maker is available to be exercised at any time. The right to vote is never denied. (In fact, the decision making model used by the ISS is collective and completely transparent and limits officials’ authority in another fundamental way that I won’t go into here, but ask us about the ISS public record, if you are curious.)

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not specify which definition of the word “in” applies in section 3. It does, however, show in section 1 that fostering freedom and democracy is the primary purpose of the Charter. The word “democracy” is commonly thought to be the same as “elections”, but in fact, the word itself, literally translated from Greek, means “the power of the people”. Periodic elections have previously seemed to be the best tool created so far to let the power of the people prevail in a society. However, that does not mean that there isn’t a better way, and certainly if a better way is found, then according to section 1 of the Charter, this improved way should be put into law.

In several years of usage of the interactive electoral system, no justification has been demonstrated as to how denying the right to vote for periods of time can be seen as a reasonable limit that helps maintain freedom and democracy. It often leaves us stuck with politicians who become unaccountable once elected and may push through legislation that benefits corporate cronies or take it upon themselves to gut agencies that voters believe are important (such as Elections Canada or Veteran Affairs Offices).

If a citizen of Canada were responsible only to ISS law, and not Crown law, then the denial of that citizen’s section 3 rights is remedied. If “the right to vote in an election” can be made constantly available, instead of only occasionally, then can you think of any way to demonstrate how to justify not making this right constantly available in the interest of freedom and democracy? If not, You’re not alone. Joining the ISS would be a sensible choice in that case.

Time for democratic evolution

However, there are people who refuse to admit that there is a need to discuss interpretation of “in” in this fundamentally crucial Charter section as they cannot, or aren’t willing to, see that this right is being denied. Perhaps they do not understand that they would be required to demonstrate any justification for denying the right to vote for periods of time. Maybe what they think of as demonstrating this justification is actually just making uninformed assumptions, usually having to do with the notion that an unrestricted opportunity to vote would cause systemic “instability”. (We are planning a future post that will clearly refute that notion, so stay tuned.)

Perhaps for some it is too frightening to admit that this fundamental democratic right, which so many sacrifices have been made to provide, is ever denied. Or is it possible that they just don’t care if they are not being treated fairly by their elected officials? Is that an appropriate way of showing respect for the sacrifices that have been made to keep freedom and democracy alive? Do they think it is beyond us (or perhaps hopelessly impossible) to work towards evolving our political system into something more equitable and ethically sound?

If you can justify clinging to a solely periodic way of participating in “democracy” then why not just acknowledge that the right to do so is denied for periods of time and then demonstrate why that is justifiable? If not, then why would you want anyone denied that right for any period of time?

Or perhaps you believe that Her Majesty the Queen and her advisors did a bad job of drafting and enacting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Dura lex, sed lex.

An Alternative To Crown Governance

In order to understand how a Canadian citizen may choose ISS laws as an alternative to Crown governance, there are two sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to consider:

First of all, there’s section 3, which states that every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of a legislative assembly.

The other is section 1, which states that the rights and freedoms set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are guaranteed, except in cases where reasonable limits prescribed by law can be demonstrably (shown to be) justified in a free and democratic society.

Presently, a letter has been sent to the Attorney General of British Columbia, relying on the above two sections of the Canadian Charter, to illustrate why I, as an ISS member, must by law be exempt from Crown governance. I also observe in the letter that any citizen of Canada who wishes to request a similar remedy must (by law) receive it.  Having received a response, I now intend to commence action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

When a right listed in the Canadian Charter is denied, then Canadian courts are mandated to provide an appropriate and just remedy to this denial.

Clearly the right listed in section 3 may (according to current practice, through federalprovincial, or municipal electoral legislation) be exercised by Canadian citizens under Crown governance once every several years, and the rest of the time the right is denied. Therefore courts in Canada are mandated to find an appropriate and just remedy to the denial of this right if asked.

Public officials in Canada, such as a provincial attorney general, have declared allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth II, their Queen. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is her highest command to them. Disobeying this Charter opposes the principles that Canada is founded on, and no such official may knowingly do so in good conscience without being derelict of duty and subject to possible dismissal from their position, as well as potential prosecution. Despite the courts having the mandate to order any public officials to adhere to this Charter, those officials are required by law to obey it to the best of their abilities without the need of being directed by a court.  It is their duty, if their allegiance to their Queen is sincere. This is why I am starting by writing to my geographical province’s attorney general, and to her Queen.

An Interactive Sovereign Society (ISS) member has laws enacted by a legislative assembly that never denies the right guaranteed in section 3 of the Canadian Charter. By being made only responsible to ISS laws and not Crown laws, a Canadian citizen is therefore no longer denied the rights guaranteed in section 3. That is why the courts may consider this remedy. Another remedy may be suggested, that might accomplish ceasing the denial of this right more appropriately or justly. Until then, any court that hears the presently suggested remedy may order it.

If denying the right to vote for four years at a time could be demonstrably justified as a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society, then the court could lawfully refrain from ordering the above remedy, because of section 1 of the Charter.  If such justification cannot be demonstrated, then the court must order the above remedy unless a preferable one has been suggested in time for the court to make its decision. Demonstrable means demonstrating it. This means using a working example to show how failing to deny this right for periods of time causes detriment to freedom and democracy (if any such working example exists).

The Office of the Attorney General (aka the Department of Justice) of a province heads the prosecution of any citizen for disobedience of Crown law. If an attorney general’s office chooses not to prosecute, then a citizen can only be prosecuted by another citizen in civil court. If an attorney general gives notice that a citizen voluntarily responsible to Interactive Sovereign Society laws will under no circumstances be prosecuted under Crown laws, then that citizen will be treated accordingly in Canada. That citizen can then only be held responsible to ISS laws in ISS courts, under ISS court procedure. If a future Attorney General attempts to reverse the decision, this effectively binding precedent should prevent that.

That is the law, according to the principles upon which the nation of Canada is founded, whatever You may think of that nation, and those principles.

Goals and Progress

I have put together a list of what I believe to be the goals of the Interactive Sovereign Society, and the progress made toward those goals.  Given that the ISS is a democratic society, of course if the membership does not democratically agree to pursue these goals, or if the collective choice of goals changes, then this may not be a definitive or complete list.  However, at present, I do not know of any members that do not agree that these are goals They would wish to see progress on.

GOALS

  • increasing the number of People who have experienced an interactive electoral system – The interactive electoral system is a way of choosing an elected official, in which each voter may cast their vote whenever They wish, and change their vote at any time after that.  Throughout the experience of several hundred People who have already tried participating in this system, it has been demonstrated to be more stable, less costly to implement, and of course more accountable than the practice of periodic elections.  The most effective way by far to have this idea perpetuated is to increase the number of participants in this system so that its power to unite People in their collective decision making abilities can be demonstrated.  The only present way to participate in an interactive electoral system is to become a member of the Interactive Sovereign Society.  Therefore, increasing the membership in the ISS is a goal.  However, if another organisation, such as a sports club or arts club or charity organisation, were induced to use this system in choosing their coordination team, then that would be equally effective.  Therefore, it is also a goal of the ISS to communicate with other organisations that must collectively make decisions such as how their funds are allocated, and ask Them to consider adopting this more fair and more dependable form of choosing such positions as president.
  • having the society’s sovereignty recognised and respected – The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to vote in an election of the members of a legislative assembly.  The Crown, which most Canadians consider to be their government, provides legislative assemblies for which this right may be exercised on one day, and is then denied for as much as four years.  The Interactive Sovereign Society is a legislative assembly that never denies this right, at any point in time.  Therefore, according to the Canadian Charter, ISS members have the right not to be governed by Crown legislative assemblies, since They are instead consensually responsible to a legislative assembly which does not deny the right that the Crown claims to guarantee.  Achieving this sovereignty for the society should be possible through Canadian courts, since those courts claim to recognise the Canadian Charter as their highest law.  If the Crown begins using the interactive electoral system to choose officials elected to its legislative assemblies, then there may be no further need for Interactive Sovereign Society members to pursue recognition of their society’s sovereignty, but until that happens, sovereignty is a shared goal of all ISS members.  If the ISS finds members in nations other than Canada, then the commitments that those nations have made to being free and democratic may be assessed, to find other means of helping those ISS members achieve recognition and respect for their sovereignty within the territories where those nations reside.
  • developing the society’s laws to be appealing to new members – There are two important features of laws.  First, People agreeing to accept those laws must find them to be reasonable rules to follow.  Second, People protected by those laws must believe that any One else willing to follow those laws is thus displaying conduct that may always be welcomed in society.  The ISS goes one step further, as its Constitution recognises that “sovereignty can never be truly realised without love, trust, and mutual respect between Those who assert their sovereignty”.  This implies that laws aren’t meant just to prevent any One from doing harm to any One else.  Laws, according to the ISS, are further intended to foster love, trust, and respect between Those who share them.  ISS laws are written in the summation of principles, and these are the conditions that People agree to upon becoming ISS members.  If any One who might consider membership is not willing to agree to adhere to the conduct described in the Summation of Principles, then the society should consider revising the Summation of Principles to make it more appealing.  This helps accomplish the society’s other goal of gaining new members.  In some ways, ISS laws may ask for a greater responsibility out of participants, such as certain aspects of the principles asking members to empower marginalised People and to pursue excellence in their abilities.  ISS members might like to see all other People agree to uphold these laws, but ISS members can no more force these laws on Others than any government may justifiably force its laws on the sovereign People of the ISS.  The beauty of ISS laws lie in the pride members take in their belief that these laws are part of what make a human Being great.
  • assuring that ISS laws are respected – If any One, whether an ISS member or not, believes that an ISS member is not adhering to the ISS Summation of Principles, then the ISS has judges (actually known as judicial panel chairs in the ISS) who may be approached to hear the details of the conduct and bring the society to an agreement as to whether the allegations are accurately founded.  Membership may be terminated, which nullifies any reasonable claim of sovereignty by the individual, because any One who will not adhere to the laws that they claim to have consensually chosen has demonstrated a lack of ability to choose laws, the most essential quality of a sovereign individual.  This would of course justifiably make Them governable by the Crown.  The more judges the society has, the easier it is for non-members to find some One approachable and available that is willing to hear grievance against a member.  The more People are familiar with the ISS Summation of Principles, the more assurance there is that ISS members will be held to adhere to those principles by People who understand those principles.

PROGRESS

  • increasing numbers – The ISS has grown to 29 members from the 3 that started it over two years ago.  This is a process that requires a great deal of patience, but it is also a process that is relentless and assured to prevail.  The sooner this process starts to snowball, the sooner the damage being done to our world, and the People We share it with, by a badly outdated form of social structuring that has clearly demonstrated itself not to provide an assured future for Humanity, may be reduced.  Your help would be appreciated, and membership in the ISS comes with the opportunity for a new experience and absolutely no obligations other than adhering to the Summation of Principles.
  • sovereignty – A case has been made in the Federal Court of Canada to argue the sovereignty of the ISS.  This case was discontinued with the intention to be addressed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.  The reasons for this decision should be discussed with the society’s prime representative if more information is desired.  Plans to continue this action are underway.  Sometimes winning a court case requires more than just being justified and correct.  Sometimes it requires an obvious presence of a number of People who recognise that justification and that truth.  Sometimes courts will not follow laws if there is pressure from more powerful interests to ignore the law.  Sometimes it is better to wait until support is mounted before pursuing a case.  Sometimes it takes thousands.  Sometimes it takes dozens.  This will happen when it happens.
  • developing ISS laws – The ISS has only amended its laws on a handful of occasions in the last two years, and there is presently no outstanding dissatisfaction with how those laws are written.  However, if You would assume for the benefit of the doubt that your government has no justifiable right to impose its laws upon ISS members, and imagine the possibility that members of your government may actually recognise this at some point, then read the ISS Summation of Principles and imagine People only being held to the laws written in it.  If You believe that, in this eventuality, this is not a sufficient standard of conduct to require of People in the land where You reside, then help the ISS improve our Summation of Principles by suggesting what else You would like to see People required by law to uphold.  If We don’t meet your satisfaction right now, then We believe that, with your help, We will.
  • respecting ISS laws – Following the principles of the Interactive Sovereign Society is quite different from following the laws of a government.  There is a great deal more room for interpretation.  This can mean more leniency may be asked in forgiving one’s conduct.  However, it can also mean more responsibility can be asked by the members in following those principles with more conscientiousness and effectiveness than is outlined by a cumbersome and bureaucratic system of laws made by a government, that is often unfair and inconsistent, with little room for flexibility.  Members report improvement in their motivation to act lawfully of their own accord based on principles of respecting Others rather than due to threat of punishment.  ISS laws have a great deal of similarity to the laws of the nation in which an ISS member resides, but are not identical.  As awareness of the ISS and its laws spreads, then the ability of the ISS to demonstrate that its members respect good laws, and that its members can thus be accepted as supportive and reasonable co-occupants of a land in which a nation resides, will grow stronger.

National governments

Have You ever considered whether, and to what extent, You may have been subject to indoctrination throughout your life?  If You ever have been indoctrinated, then Noam Chomsky would describe You as an “unwilling or unwitting instrument” in propagating dysfunctions that have been imbued in our society (You might want to read his whole article).

The most fundamentally destructive doctrine to Humanity today may well be the one that alleges that a nation has the right to govern every occupant in an entire land, whether They consent to that nation’s form of governance or not.  For example, First Nations People have treaty rights by which their claim to their land is lawfully justifiable, and yet these rights are frequently blatantly violated (see here for a list of examples) by corporations, aided by governments like Canada’s.  People indoctrinated with the belief that their government has the right to govern every person in their land don’t usually consider the possibility that They have ever been indoctrinated.  This makes it tough to get Them to consider the damages that They and large numbers of co-indoctrinatees collectively cause, often more by inactions than by deliberate actions.  Teaching People to consider these issues, and their role in them, helps reduce the harms caused by their nations, which appear to be threatening the very ability of the planet to sustain human life.

The fear that People feel when faced with the possibility of their nation not having the right to govern every occupant of their land is that there can then exist lawless People who are not provided any consequences to their actions when those actions are unfair to Others.  To get past this fear, it is important to realise that there is generally no crime committed when their nation governs any One who does not have their own laws.  Living lawlessly is not justifiable.  To have one’s own laws, One must have a Constitution as the highest source of laws to which One is responsible, shared with Others who have also agreed to share it.  For instance have a look at this.

When People have their own complete, concise way of portraying their commitment to adhere to a standard of lawful conduct for the benefit of their fellow human Beings, then wishing your government imposed upon Them is aiding and abetting a crime, an unlawful act, if your government alleges itself to be democratic. If your government alleges itself to be democratic, then that means that your government attempts to act in a way that includes your wishes in choosing its actions, and therefore You are lawfully accountable for your wishes as You express them. You have a responsibility to look at how some One who does not consent to being governed by your nation defines their laws, and find reasonable criticisms of those laws before You may be justified in wishing your nation imposed on Them.

Doing the above steps is a reasonable way to acknowledge that perhaps your nation does not have the right to impose its laws upon every One in the entire land while still retaining the ability to instigate negotiation and compromise when You don’t believe that some One else’s laws are sufficient for You to feel protected, respected, or treated fairly.  Any One who claims to have their own set of chosen laws, concisely and completely expressed, has an innate responsibility to give You the time to express your views regarding whether You are satisfied with their laws and whether their conduct has been in accordance with those laws. This is the fundamental seed to begin thwarting the insidious form of indoctrination that every nation in the world has planted in vast numbers of people’s minds.

What Democracy Means

Democracy, translated literally from Greek, means “the people’s power”.  “Demos” means people, as in demographic, and “cracy” means power, as in aristocracy. Therefore, an institution that calls itself government that uses the word “leader” to describe any of its members is inherently not democratic, because “leader” implies power over the People, whereas “representative” implies a person who acts to enact the will of the People as per their wishes.

Perhaps “guide” might be a better way to describe an individual acting within a democratic society. Perhaps if Parliament were dissolved, and the Girl Guides were to instead lawfully enact the will of the People in Canada, then Canada could be called democratic. At present, calling the alleged Canadian government democratic is fraud, which is a felony. How does it feel to live in a nation whose imposed government’s existence is in itself a crime?

Superior Standard of Lawful Conduct

In comparing two differently constituted bases (plural of basis) for law, a superior standard of lawful conduct is one where, if You are adhering to the laws as prescribed, then You are providing a better guarantee of fair and respectful treatment toward your fellow human Beings, and/or your actions are less restricted, than in the other basis. That is what the Interactive Sovereign Society Constitution is to the Crown’s Canadian Constitution: a superior standard of lawful conduct, in both of the above ways. Forcing some One who is willing to abide by the laws of the Interactive Sovereign Society to remain under the governance of the Crown, especially if you have not even discerned for yourself whether the above is true, is blatant tyranny, and a crime against Humanity.

Are You aware of reports comparing the level of democratic principles being available to members of different nations, such as transparency and accountability, in which Canada is dropping not only on an objective scale, but even on a scale of comparison to other nations in the world? Does the thought of the word “tyranny” being more and more reasonably applicable to Canada’s governance concern You? Do You believe that a superior basis for lawful conduct in Canada should be adopted for Canadians if one is irrefutably available for practical and viable implementation?