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This poem was lauded when it was first published and is taught in first-year Constitutional Law classes across Canada. Upon first hearing it, I was inspired. Later on I was awed by F.R. Scott’s ability to poignantly describe the frustration of a public-rights lawyer without violating any Law Society’s code of conduct. It is emotionally effective while it logically and persuasively lays out its points. Given the current political/legal climate, I’m copying it and posting it here.

Some Privy Counsel

“Emergency, emergency,” I cried “give us emergency,
This shall be the doctrine of our salvation.
Are we not surrounded by emergencies?
The rent of a house, the cost of food, pensions and
health, the unemployed,
These are lasting emergencies, tragic for me.
Yet ever the answer was property and civil rights,
and my peace-time troubles were counted as nothing.
“At least you have an unoccupied field,” I urged,
“Or something ancillary for a man with four children?
Surely my insecurity and want affect the body politic?”
But back came the echo of property and civil rights.
I was told to wrap my sorrow in water-tight
compartments.
“Please, please,” I entreated, “look at my problem
I and my brothers, regardless of race, are  afflicted.
Our welfare hangs on remote policies, distant
decisions,
Planning of trade, guaranteed prices, high
employment-
Can provincial fractions deal with this complex whole?
Surely such questions are now supra-national!”
But the judges fidgeted over their digests
And blew me away with the cannons of construction.
“This is intolerable”, I shouted, “this is one country;
Two flourishing cultures, but joined in one nation.
I demand peace, order and good government.
This you must admit is the aim on Confederation!
But firmly and sternly I was pushed to a corner
And covered with the wet blanket of provincial
autonomy.
Stifling under the burden I raided my hands to Heaven
And called out with my last expiring breath
“At least you cannot deny I have a new aspect?
I cite in my aid the fresh approach of Lord Simon!”
But all I could hear was the old sing-song,
This time in Latin, muttering stare decisis.

by F.R. Scott

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