The province of Manitoba, Canada, has passed a comprehensive anti-smoking law. Not different than California, you might think. You’d be incorrect.
In Manitoba the law has specific exemptions based on ethnicity. The law requires that bar owners be treated differently based on whether they are white or aborginal.
It does remind one of the University of Michigan Law School admissions process. (More on Michigan’s Proposal 2 tomorrow.)
A looming court battle over Manitoba’s anti-smoking law will hinge on whether the province must treat white bar owners the same as their aboriginal counterparts, an issue that could have implications across the country.
The section of the law that exempted aboriginal reserves from the smoking ban was struck down in August by Justice Albert Clearwater of Court of Queen’s Bench, who ruled it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Manitoba government is trying to appeal the decision by arguing, in part, that the charter guarantee was not designed to provide a level playing field for white males.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is what passes for a Bill of Rights in Canada. It is a living document, and obviously Manitoba’s government believes it to be misnamed.
Should Manitoba be in the market for a new provincial slogan, I’d suggest: “Manitoba, where treating everyone equally under the law is a pipe dream.”