History of the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms

Topics: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada, Constitution of Canada Pages: 17 (5596 words) Published: October 14, 2008
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (also known as The Charter of Rights and Freedoms or simply the Charter) is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Charter guarantees certain political and civil rights of people in Canada from the policies and actions of all levels of government. It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights.

The Charter was preceded by the Canadian Bill of Rights, which was enacted in 1960. However, the Bill of Rights was only a federal statute, rather than a constitutional document. As a federal statute, it was limited in scope, was easily amendable by Parliament, and it had no application to provincial laws. The Supreme Court of Canada also narrowly interpreted the Bill of Rights and the Court was reluctant to declare laws inoperative.[1] The relative ineffectiveness of the Canadian Bill of Rights motivated many to improve rights protections in Canada. The movement for human rights and freedoms that emerged after World War II also wanted to entrench the principles enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[2] The British Parliament formally enacted the Charter as a part of the Canada Act 1982 at the request of the Parliament of Canada in 1982, the result of the efforts of the Government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

One of the most notable effects of the adoption of the Charter was to greatly expand the scope of judicial review, because the Charter is more explicit with respect to the guarantee of rights and the role of judges in enforcing them than was the Bill of Rights. The courts, when confronted with violations of Charter rights, have struck down unconstitutional federal and provincial statutes and regulations or parts of statutes and regulations, as they did when Canadian case law was primarily concerned with resolving issues of federalism. However, the Charter granted new powers to the courts to enforce remedies that are more creative and to exclude more evidence in trials. These powers are greater than what was typical under the common law and under a system of government that, influenced by Canada's mother country the United Kingdom, was based upon Parliamentary supremacy. As a result, the Charter has attracted both broad support from a majority of the Canadian electorate and criticisms by opponents of increased judicial power. The Charter only applies to government laws and actions (including the laws and actions of federal, provincial, and municipal governments and public school boards), and sometimes to the common law, not to private activity. Contents


* 1 Features
* 2 History
* 3 Interpretation and enforcement
* 4 Comparisons with other human rights instruments
* 5 The Charter and national values
* 6 Criticism
* 7 See also
* 8 References
o 8.1 Notes
* 9 External links

[edit] Features
Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms [ v • d • e ]
Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
Fundamental Freedoms
Democratic Rights
3, 4, 5
Mobility Rights
Legal Rights
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Equality Rights
Official Languages of Canada
16, 16.1, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
Minority Language Education Rights
25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
Application of Charter
32, 33

Under the Charter, persons physically present in Canada have numerous civil and political rights. Most of the rights can be exercised by any legal person, (the Charter does not define the corporation as a "legal person"),[3] but a few of the rights belong exclusively to natural persons, or (as in sections 3 and 6) only to citizens of Canada. The rights are enforceable by the courts through section 24 of the Charter, which allows courts discretion to award remedies to those whose rights have been denied. This section also allows courts to exclude evidence...

References: Section 25, which states that the Charter does not derogate existing Aboriginal rights and freedoms. Aboriginal rights, including treaty rights, receive more direct constitutional protection under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Finally, section 34 states that the first 34 sections of the Constitution Act, 1982 may be collectively referred to as the "Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms".
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