The Ideal as Reality: Creating the Canadian Bill of Rights
Winning a majority government provided an opportunity for Prime Minister Diefenbaker to fulfill his lifelong ideal of creating a Canadian bill of rights. Drafts of the Bill began appearing in earnest shortly after Diefenbaker took office. After years of experience in championing the rights and freedoms of Canadians, Diefenbaker had a clear vision of what he wanted the Bill to include.
“The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the... dignity and worth of the human person... in a society of free men and free institutions;
Affirming also that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law;
And being desirous of enshrining these principles and the human rights and fundamental freedoms derived from them, in a Bill of Rights which shall reflect the respect of Parliament for its constitutional authority and which shall ensure the protection of these rights and freedoms in Canada:
Therefore Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts [The Canadian Bill of Rights].”
(The Canadian Bill of Rights)
It took a short two years for the Bill to evolve into the final version that was presented to Parliament on 1 July 1960. On 10 August, only one month after its introduction, the Canadian Bill of Rights was passed and received Royal Assent.
The Canadian Bill of Rights was a revolutionary piece of legislation. It was the Federal Government’s first attempt at legislating rights and freedoms at a national level and it had an immediate influence on Parliament.