The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms

1401 words - 6 pages

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has fundamentally shaped Canadian society since its inception through the Constitution Act of 1982. Promising egalitarian, linguistic, religious as well as other basic rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of the primary doctrines in which Canadian law is founded upon. Many have argued that the advent of the Charter has transformed Canadian society into one that is preoccupied with that of rights. The rise in social movements, specifically in areas of women’s rights, indigenous rights and homosexual rights, are indicative of this. The Charter has created a divide amongst those who believe that this rise in a “rights culture” is ultimately beneficial if not necessary for Canadian society, especially in preserving the voices of the marginalized citizenry who until recently remained invisible in the eyes of parliament, and those who believe that Canada as nation has become preoccupied with preserving the right of gays, lesbians, women and other minority groups that it has sacrificed its majoritarian values. The word preoccupation, especially used in this context, holds a negative connotation suggesting some sort of obsession, and to describe Canada as a nation “preoccupied” with rights is an overstatement. Canada’s recent Charter revolution has often been seen as a means by which minority groups enact their own changes which may or may not be seen as desirable by a majority of people. However, because the Charter is important in preserving the rights of marginalized or minority groups, this can ultimately be beneficial for those whose world views have historically been persecuted. The subsequent paragraphs will further discuss how Canada’s recent Charter revolution has transformed Canada, for the better.
Since the time of the Charter’s inception, there have been cynics who argue that Canada has become so preoccupied with rights protection that it has become anti- majoritarian. Since the Charter’s inception in 1982, the judicial branch of Canada has played a more active role in policymaking and as a result many interest groups have turned to courts to advance their policy interests (Morton and Knopff, 2000). And this can be seen as somewhat undemocratic for those who may disagree with these policy interests. With regards to policymaking, Morton and Knopff claim that “the first 16 years of Charter of rights jurisprudence (1982 – 1998) saw the court ruling in favour of rights claimants in 125 of 373 Charter cases and striking down 58 statues (2000). This is a prime example of how the power of the judiciary has increased in the years after the Charters inception, compared to the U.S bill of rights which is completely statutory (Morton and Knopff, 2000). Favouring minority groups in a country which prides itself on being democratic can be counterproductive and can be mistaken for being unconstitutional. The primary objection to this Charter Revolution for Morton and Knopff is that it is “deeply and...

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