While experiences under the Bill of Rights were disappointing, the law made important contributions to Canada’s developing consciousness about how to protect human rights. The Bill introduced Canadian lawyers and judges to the discourse of rights, and sharpened Canadian awareness that protecting human rights and freedoms was something the government could do deliberately and by choice.
Perhaps more important was the awareness that the government could take action to advance human rights instead of simply arguing in technical terms over whether the provincial or the federal government had the authority over particular legislative topics. Canadians too were encouraged by the Bill’s deliberate effort to protect human rights. It was progressive, as Diefenbaker stated, that the “common Canadian” could use courts of law to hold the government to standards that protected civil rights.