Unity, Diversity and Justice

a virtual exhibition from the Diefenbaker Center Canada

Charting a Course

Charting a Course

The very existence of the Bill of Rights, along with the litigation that evoked it, pointed to the importance of making changes to adequately protect human rights and freedoms appropriately. These modifications ultimately resulted in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

In substance, the Charter is built on the founding principles of the Bill. However, it also grew from the momentus changes between 1960 and 1980 that expanded the idea of what the definition of “human rights” included. The Charter differs substantially from the Bill in the breadth of what it covers and its ability to protect these liberties. While the Bill was vulnerable to amendments by the government with a simple majority vote, the Charter is entrenched in the Constitution. This means that alterations can only be made through complicated amending formulæ. For some changes, unanimous agreement of both the House of Commons and the Senate are required, while for others, a vote of seven out of the ten provinces (with a collective sum fifty percent of the Canadian population) is necessary. From the perspective of permanence, the Charter is better placed than the Bill to protect the rights of Canadians.

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