PREMIER'S OFFICE
REGINA, January 19th, 1959.

The Rt. Hon. J.G. Diefenbaker, Q.C.,
Prime Minister of Canada,
OTTAWA, Ontario.

My dear Prime Minister:

The second session of the Twenty-fourth Parliament will undoubtedly soon be considering Bill  C-60 "An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", which had its first reading in the House of Commons on September 5th, 1958. This bill, which is designed to recognize and declare the existence of certain basic rights and fundamental freedoms is a matter of concern, not only to members of Parliament, but as you can well appreciate, to the members of the ten provincial Legislatures of Canada and, for that matter, to every citizen of this country. With the objectives of the bill, few Canadians would disagree. The idea of rendering more secure those human rights and fundamental freedoms to which the bill makes reference is a worthy one. In 1947, the Province of Saskatchewan enacted a Bill of Rights Act, designed to assure freedom of religion and speech and freedom from discrimination in all aspects of life insofar as it is within the power of a provincial Legislature to do so. Thus, in a sense, your own province has pioneered the road toward expanded human rights and basic freedoms.

Other provinces have enacted legislation in specific fields as, for example, in the field of employment, where fair employment practices legislation has become the rule rather than the exception.

To date, the objectives of a bill of rights have been sought by ordinary legislation, since such action as provincial Legislatures have taken could only be achieved in this manner. While I entertain many reservations concerning the effectiveness of legislation in controlling or directing human conduct    in many fields, nevertheless, such legislation has its place in at least clearly stating the views which a majority of the people of a province or of a nation may hold on issues relating to the conduct of human affairs. But what a Legislature or Parliament may do, a future Legislature and a future Parliament may undo. Thus, it is to be recognized that bills of rights which find expression in ordinary statutes can be ephemeral things, and under pressure, when they are most needed, can suddenly disappear. Subsequent legislation of a particular nature will have the effect of repealing earlier legislation of a general character and so it may well be that a Bill of Rights passed today with the utmost good faith , may gradually be whittled away by specific enactments over a period of years. Thus when it is sought to resort to its premises it may be found to virtually have vanished into thin air.

For this reason, many Canadians feel that in order that the human rights and fundamental freedoms of which the bill in question speaks may be rendered secure, they ought to find expression, not in an ordinary Act of Parliament but rather in amendment t o the constitution of Canada, The British North America Act. Now it will be recalled that in 1950, the Federal Government convened meetings in the months of January and September, attended by representatives of the Federal Government and by the Premiers and Attorneys General of the ten provinces of Canada for the purpose of considering methods by which The British North America Acts(1867 - 1949) might be amended in future. Unfortunately, the meetings resulted in no very tangible recommendations for action, but certain general classifications were made of the provisions of the Acts, insofar as they concerned amendment, these being six in all. They included:

  1. provisions which concerned Parliament only;
  2. provisions which concerned provincial Legislatures only;
  3. provisions which concerned Parliament and one or more but not a l l of the provincial Legislatures;
  4. provisions which concerned Parliament and all of the provincial Legislatures;
  5. provisions concerning fundamental rights (as, for instance, education, language, solemnization of marriage, administration of justice, etc.) and amendment of the amending procedure; and
  6. provisions which ought to be repealed.

Certain recommendations by the Attorneys-General of each province were made concerning the method by which each group of constitutional enactments might be amended and upon these there was general agreement.

It was generally agreed that provisions concerning fundamental rights should be added or amended by an Act of the Parliament of Canada and by Acts of the Legislatures of all of the provinces and this appears to have been a reasonable approach to a very fundamental problem.

Bill C-60, to which you and members of Parliament will be giving attention shortly, in my view, should lay the foundation for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the soundest and most definite manner possible. To include the type of provision therein contained in an ordinary statute of Parliament would result in at least two important limitations. First it will restrict the application of the principles of the bill to matters solely within the jurisdiction of Parliament as set out in The British North America Act. At once, the effectiveness of these principles is seriously restricted. To broaden the applicability of these fundamental rights to encompass, all facets of Canadian life , it appears to me to be necessary to incorporate the provisions in an amendment to The British North America Act itself, This will require the concurrence of the provinces, it is true, but it seems to me that in securing the concurrence of the provinces a very great advantage will be secured through public debate and discussion and to that type of consideration which a constitutional amendment is bound to provoke.

Secondly, only by placing these fundamental rights and freedoms in constitutional form, will they stand above the lists of daily battle and controversy which are bound to whittle away or destroy principles which may appear to stand in the way of expediency or efficiency as any particular government may view it at some future time. For these reasons, I urge you to reconvene the constitutional conference of Federal and Provincial Governments which was held in 1950 and to submit to it your proposals for an amendment to the constitution which will contain a statement of human rights and fundamental freedoms in clear and explicit form. These proposals for amendment may then be considered, debated, and incorporated as an amendment to The British North America Act. I am of the opinion that the amendments should be set out in a very specific way to provide that the rights which you have in mind are rights which are to be guaranteed to all Canadians and that a breach of them will be enjoined by simple legal process.

Accompanying this letter is a draft amendment which I believe was considered some years ago by a nonpartisan committee on civil rights, consisting of eminent lawyers and others, to which I feel reference can again be usefully made today. I commend its consideration, and I shall be pleased to hear from you concerning the suggestions concerned therein contained and those set out in this communication.

Yours sincerely,

Encl. (1)                                                                      

[signature]

T.C. Douglas.

Proposed Amendment to the British North America Act, Assuring Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

  1. This Act shall be known as The British North America Act, 1959.
  2. The British North America Act, 1867 is amended by adding after Section 147 the following sections:

    "148. Notwithstanding anything in this Act, it shall not be lawful for the Parliament of Canada or the Legislature of any Province to make laws:
    1. abridging freedom of speech and expression or of the press or other means of communication, or freedom of religion, or the right of lawful assembly, association or organization;
    2. requiring or imposing excessive bail or cruel or unusual punishment or exiling Canadian
      citizens;
    3. subjecting any person to unreasonable interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence;
    4. subjecting any person to arbitrary arrest  or detention or denying to any person the right,
      after arrest, to be promptly informed of the charges against such person and to trial within a reasonable time, or to be released;
    5. suspending the right to habeas corpus or depriving any person of a fair trial or the right to be
      represented by counsel;
    6. depriving or restricting the right of any person to own, lease or otherwise to hold and enjoy
      property.

"149. The rights provided in Section 148 shall be enjoyed without distinction or discrimination on account of race, sex, religion or language and:

  1. the right to be a member of or to vote for the election of Members of the Parliament of Canada or the Legislature of any Province;
  2. the right to employment at any occupation and the right to work;
  3. the right to education; and
  4. right to enjoy membership in any professional association;

shall not be abridged on account of race, religion, language or sex.

"150. The rights conferred by Sections 148 and 149 of this Act shall not be deemed to abridge any existing rights of any person.''

Télécharger
Copie de la Déclaration canadienne des droits.
La déclaration canadienne des droits

Galerie des médias et des documents

Images

La déclaration canadienne des droits
John Diefenbaker à Cornwall (Ontario)
John et Olive Diefenbaker en compagnie d’un groupe d’enfants polonais
John Diefenbaker lors d’un banquet des Chinese Youth Services
John Diefenbaker dans son bureau de la Chambre des communes
John Diefenbaker en compagnie d’un délégué à l’assemblée générale des Progressistes- Conservateurs

Discours

Discours de John Diefenbaker au Congrès des jeunes progressistes-conservateurs à Ottawa

Source: Parti progressiste-conservateur du Canada

Sujet: Canada – chef du gouvernement| Canada – droits de la personne | Déclaration canadienne des droits

Description: John Diefenbaker réaffirme sa position de défenseur des droits de la personne et demande aux jeunes du parti de prendre en main la responsabilité de guider le Canada vers l’avenir.

Date de création 30 Novembre1959

Code: MG01/XVIII/T163-PAC23

Discours de John Diefenbaker à l’Association des femmes progressistes-conservatrices à Ottawa

Source: Parti progressiste-conservateur du Canada

Sujet: Canada – chef du gouvernement| Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: John Diefenbaker fait part de son désir de voir le Parlement voter sur la Déclaration des droits lors de la prochaine session parlementaire.

Date de création 30 Novembre1959

Code: MG01/XVIII/T187-PAC39

Discours de John Diefenbaker lors d’un banquet progressiste-conservateur à Ottawa

Source: Parti progressiste-conservateur du Canada

Sujet: Canada – chef du gouvernement| Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – recensement

Description: John Diefenbaker prend cause pour une identité canadienne qui se manifestera lors du prochain recensement lorsqu’on demandera pour la première fois aux citoyens s’ils sont Canadiens.

Date de création 17 Mars1961

Code: MG01/XVIII/T203-PAC50

Documents

Objet : Déclaration des droits – Modification à la Constitution

Source: Ministère de la justice

Sujet: Canada – gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits | Canada – modification à la Constitution

Description: Explique la pertinence et la façon de constitutionaliser la Déclaration des droits par le biais d’une modification à la Constitution.

Date de création 2 Novembre 1959

Identifier:MG01/XIV/E/41 Volume 12

Suggestions supplémentaires rassemblées concernant le projet de Déclaration des droits

Source: Victor LaRochelle

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: Victor LaRochelle envoie une liste de suggestions à propos du projet de Déclaration des droits.

Date de création 12 Août 1958

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285025 – 285027)

Copie confidentielle du projet de loi C – An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundemental Freedoms

Source: Queen’s Printer

Sujet: Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: Copie de la première version du projet de Déclaration canadienne des droits pour première lecture à la Chambre des communes.

Date de création 28 Mai 1958

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285069 – 285075)

La Déclaration des droits ne fonctionne pas

Source: Guy Kroft, The Manitoban

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: Exprime l’opinion de l’auteur selon lequel le projet de Déclaration des droits serait inefficace.

Date de création 28 Septembre 1958

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285298)

Lettre de T.C. Douglas à John Diefenbaker

Source: T.C. Douglas

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits | Canada – modification à la Constitution | Saskatchewan – premier ministre

Description: T.C. Douglas, premier ministre de la Saskatchewan, apporte son soutien à la volonté de John Diefenbaker de promulguer une déclaration des droits des Canadiens; il ajoute une proposition de modification à l’Acte de l’Amérique du Nord britannique visant à protéger les droits et libertés de base des Canadiens.

Date de création 19 Janvier 1959

Identifier:MG01/XIV/E/41 Volume 12

La Déclaration des droits du premier ministre, championne de la liberté

Source: Robert Moon, Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: Rappelle l’historique de la position de John Diefenbaker sur les droits de la personne et constate que le projet de Déclaration des droits est une nouvelle version des buts de Diefenbaker en matière de droits de la personne.

Date de création 24 Mai 1958

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285089 – 285090)

Lettre de Davie Fulton à John Diefenbaker

Source: Davie Fulton

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits | Canada – modification à la Constitution | Canada – ministre de la Justice

Description: Davie Fulton, ministre de la Justice, transmet une proposition de changements au projet de Déclaration des droits suite au retour d’information de diverses sources.

Date de création 11 Mai 1959

Identifier:MG01/XIV/E/41 Volume 12

Les décrets en conseil menacent votre citoyenneté

Source: Vancouver Consultative Council

Sujet: Canada – gouvernement | Canada – décrets en conseil | Canada – Canadiens d’origine japonaise

Description: Analyse et condamne l’usage que fait le gouvernement canadien de décrets en conseil ainsi que ses tentatives de se servir des lois pour déporter des Canadiens d’origine japonaise et pour les dépouiller de leur citoyenneté.

Date de création 1945

Identifier:MG01/III/719 Volume 59 (047074-A – 047074-D)

Notre Déclaration des droits

Source: Financial Post

Sujet: Canada – chef de gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits

Description: Éditorial affirmant que seule une modification constitutionnelle pourrait établir pleinement et légalement les droits de la personne au Canada et qu’il est peu probable qu’une telle modification reçoive l’appui unanime requis de toutes les provinces.

Date de création no date

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285059)

Déclaration provinciale des droits de la personne – Alberta, Saskatchewan et Manitoba

Source: Compilé par le comité sur la recherche économique et sociale du Congrès juif canadien

Sujet: Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – lois provinciales

Description: Analyse des lois provinciales sur les droits des la personne dans les provinces de l’Alberta, de la Saskatchewan et du Manitoba.

Date de création no date

Identifier:MG01/III/29.1 Volume 2 (001162 – 001164)

Lettre de Byrne Hope Sanders à John Diefenbaker

Source: Byrne Hope Sanders

Sujet: Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – membres du Parlement | Canada – sondage d’opinion

Description: Byrne Hope Sanders, codirecteur du Canadian Institute of Public Opinion, écrit à Diefenbaker au sujet du premier de trois communiqués sur le récent sondage de cet institut à propos des libertés civiles et joint ce communiqué à sa lettre.

Date de création 29 Janvier 1957

Identifier:MG01/IV/413.1 Volume 22 (15379 – 15381)

Le Canada devrait-il avoir une Déclaration des droits ?

Source: Peterborough Examiner

Sujet: Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Déclaration des droits | États-Unis – droits de la personne | Grande-Bretagne – droits de la personne

Description: Des citoyens de la région de Peterborough s’expriment sur la nécessité pour le Canada d’avoir ou pas une Déclaration des droits.

Date de création 17 Mai 1958

Identifier:MG01/VI/413.1 Volume 365 (285101 – 285102)

Qu’en est-il des Canadiens d’origine japonaise?

Source: Howard Norman et le conseil consultatif

Sujet: Canada – gouvernement | Canada – droits de la personne | Canada – Canadiens d’origine japonaise

Description: Critique les diverses contrevérités employées pour justifier les mauvais traitements faits aux Canadiens d’origine japonaise pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale; fait la liste des actions prises contre les Canadiens d’origine japonaise par le gouvernement.

Date de création 1 Mai 1945

Identifier:MG01/XIII/163 Volume 20