Canadian Bill of Rights
The Canadian Bill of Rights was the country’s first federal law to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was considered groundbreaking when it was enacted by the government of John Diefenbaker in 1960. But it proved too limited and ineffective, mainly because it applies only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. Many judges regarded it as a mere interpretive aid. The bill was cited in 35 cases between 1960 and 1982; thirty were rejected by the courts. Though it is still in effect, the Bill of Rights was superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or simply the Charter, is the most visible and recognized part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter guarantees the rights of individuals by enshrining those rights, and certain limits on them, in the highest law of the land. Since its enactment in 1982, the Charter has created a social and legal revolution in Canada. It has expanded the rights of minorities and criminal defendants, transformed the nature and cost of criminal investigations and prosecutions, and subjected the will of Parliament and the legislatures to judicial scrutiny — an ongoing source of controversy.
Editorial: Newfoundland’s Contribution to the Patriation of the Constitution
In the decades since 1982, politicians and the media have recounted the same story about the patriation of Canada’s constitution and the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Most of the credit in this version goes to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Three others are credited with breaking an impasse in the 1981 negotiations: federal justice minister Jean Chrétien, Saskatchewan attorney general Roy Romanow, and Ontario attorney general Roy McMurtry. But in his memoirs, former Newfoundland PremierBrian Peckford argues that the key intervention in the patriation process came from Peckford and the members of the Newfoundland delegation.
The 1215 agreement between King John of England and his barons provided the foundation for English common law, which spread throughout the English-speaking world.
The Charter of the Forest
The 1217 Charter of the Forest (Carta de Foresta) is a companion document to the Magna Carta of 1215.
Québec Values Charter
The contents of the Québec values charter were unveiled on 10 September 2013, by Bernard Drainville, a member of Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois government and Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship. The goal of this highly anticipated charter was the creation of a secular society — a society in which religion and the state are completely separate. The result of numerous controversies in the media and in Québec society regarding reasonable accommodation, the charter encouraged religious neutrality by means of five “proposals.” One of the proposals was a ban on the wearing of any visible symbol indicating a religious affiliation, including a turban, hijab or kippah, by public servants when they are providing services to the public. The charter sparked controversy in Québec and divided the Québécois. On 7 November 2013, Drainville officially tabled the bill (Bill 60) in Québec’s National Assembly.