By Paul Tuns
A Vancouver lawyer is mounting a novel challenge to British Columbia's bubble-zone law that invokes, among other things, the supremacy of God and the issue of federal-provincial jurisdiction.
Pro-life activist Donald Spratt was arrested Dec. 17, 1998 for carrying a large cross outside an abortuary with a sign that read "Thou shall not kill." His trial begins Jan. 4, 2000.
Charles Lugosi of the Prince Albert, B.C. law firm Lugosi and Cornett is a lawyer assisting Spratt in his constitutional challenge against the bubble-zone. Lugosi told The Interim that his new arguments "force the courts to examine the issue of the supremacy of God" when considering the legitimacy of laws.
Lugosi's 172-page brief outlines various arguments against the province's bubble-zone law prohibiting peaceful, pro-life witnessing near locations where abortions are performed. It builds upon previous cases, including R. v. Lewis and R. v. Demers, but argues explicitly for a recognition of the supremacy of God and that the province doesn't have the right to create criminal law.
Lugosi says that Canada's courts and laws have ignored the preamble of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when they dismisses the notion of the supremacy of God. (The Charter begins, "Whereas Canada was founded on the supremacy of God and the rule of law ..." ) Lugosi cites an 1985 case examining the validity of the federal Lord's Day Act whereby the Supreme Court ruled that Canada, as a multicultural country, cannot abide by the ideas of just one religious tradition.
But Lugosi points to numerous examples where Christian thinking explicitly or implicitly infuse court rulings, including the application of the rule of law. Lugosi argues that the rule of law - treating all citizens equally, that certain rights and responsibilities are constant and not left to the whim of judges or politicians - is rooted in the Bible. As a result, he argues, it is legitimate to consider the supremacy of God when examining whether laws are just.
Lugosi is also challenging the law on the grounds that the province has no jurisdiction to create criminal law. He cites as a precedent a 1983 case (Westendorp v. the Queen) decision that found Calgary's by-law prohibiting standing on the street for the purpose of prostitution to be unconstitutional, because it stepped into "exclusive federal power in relation to the criminal law."
If Lugosi's argument persuades the courts, Spratt and others will be able once again to witness against the evil of abortion. Lugosi says in the brief that Spratt's "peaceful and loving method to communicate that message surely can be tolerated in a free and democratic society."