General Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Can you suggest a novel legal strategy concerning the use of the term "taxpayer" by politicians?

Asked by SmashTheState (14250points) February 12th, 2011

Please bear in mind that I reside in Kanada, so Kanadian law and the Kanadian charter/constitution are in use here.

I’m an activist and an organizer with a direct action organization which represents panhandlers and other street-involved people, and I am responsible for planning a lot of our legal strategy. One of the roadblocks we’ve found in developing legal strategy is that there is no explicit or even colour-of-right protection on the basis of social class in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (although there is explicit protection for housing on the basis of source of income under the Ontario charter). Challenges in the past by other organizations have produced precedent that there is no colour-of-right protection on the basis of social class or income under the Charter.

Previously, I have managed to at least provide pause for politicians who refer to the rights of “taxpayers” by reminding them that under the Elections Act they can be charged with malfeasance of office if it can be proved that they are deliberately representing only part of their constituency. The context of this is the rhetoric by local politicians that “taxpayers” have the right not to “feel threatened” by our members (that is, gatherings of beggars and street youth)—as if our members were not citizens with the same rights to the use of public space as those who pay larger sums into tax revenues.

I am considering how I might be able to use this strategy as the basis of legal action regarding bylaws banning vending on public streets and licensing of buskers, and possibly against the police (or the city’s police services board) for their policy of harassment of beggars, street youth, and others deemed “undesirable.” Can anyone here suggest any possible avenues for legal recourse?

(I should note that as an organization, we generally rely on “novel” legal strategies. That is, strategies which have never before been tried. Novel strategies mean neither we nor our enemies can be certain about any outcome, which gives us leverage at the negotiating table lest we set a precedent which really hobbles our opponents in the future. You don’t need to quote precedent to offer suggestions; in fact, it’s better if there is no precedent.)

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2 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Good Question. I would submit they should at least represent the interest of voters, whether taxpayers or not, and any unrepresented class, such as children or prisoners who can’t vote, and homeless who are disenfranchised.

justinbibitim's avatar

To have a series of strict conditions to filter out of the voting rights of electors.

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