Today’s world is dominated by computers and the internet. Many of us shop, bank, and interact socially on the internet. Our governments and courts are also on the internet, and recently the Supreme Court changed how they appear online.
The Supreme Court of Canada changed the address of their website. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a symbolic move that’s a testament to our democracy. Their new website removed the .gc domain, and is now simply scc-csc.ca
The Courts are one of the three branches of our government, together with the legislative and executive branches. By removing “.gc”, a Canadian government domain, the Court is reminding us that they’re an independent branch of the government, as laid out in our constitution. Stephen Harper learned this lesson well in his last term, when the Supreme Court kept striking down Conservative government initiatives.
This may seem confusing. Many people think first of elected politicians and the Prime Minister when they think of government. Some may even assume the Prime Minister has final say on court decisions. But the Supreme Court is here to remind us that they’re part of the government, and equally important: that they’re independent of parliament.
This interlocking power structure is the foundation of a strong democracy-checks and balances. A strong, independent court system balances the other branches of government and can strike down unconstitutional legislation. It’s the difference between us and a dictatorship. A dictator is above the law; a Prime Minister is a regular citizen.
In a democracy, the government must obey the laws just like anybody else. Democracy is all about process and it is the strength and independence of institutions like our Courts that help maintain our democracy.
Be well and until next time.