Statement from CBA President John Stefaniuk, K.C. on use of notwithstanding clause

  • September 29, 2023

The Canadian Bar Association is deeply concerned by the announcement made yesterday by Premier Scott Moe regarding the invocation of the notwithstanding clause to override a judge’s decision to pause the implementation of the Parental Inclusion and Consent Policy.

In a 56-page decision, Court of King's Bench Justice Michael Megaw wrote "I find this to be one of those clear cases where injunctive relief is necessary to attempt to prevent the irreparable harm referred to pending a full hearing of this matter on its merits."

Fostering safe and inclusive environments for Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary and gender diverse students in school allow students to live authentically in a public setting, where their gender identity is affirmed. Efforts to curtail the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth to live openly and authentically are profoundly harmful and the use of the clause to discriminate against or oppress marginalized persons or groups or to discriminate on the basis of gender is inconsistent with the values articulated in the Charter. Democracy in a pluralistic society is more than majority rule, it involves the recognition and protection of minorities, especially the vulnerable among us.

The CBA also want to reiterate that each branch of government has its mandate, and the legitimate judicial role is an essential part of democracy. The role of protecting the rights and freedoms from government overreach under our system of government falls to the courts. Statements that cast doubt on the independence and the role of the judiciary erode the public’s trust in the legal system and in our democratic institutions.