The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted under the Pierre Trudeau government on April 17, 1982. According to Phillip Bryden, “With the entrenchment of the Charter into the Canadian Constitution, Canadians were not only given an explicit definition of their rights, but the courts were empowered to rule on the constitutionality of government legislation” (101). Prior to 1982, Canada’s central constitutional document was the British North America Act of 1867. According to Kallen, “The BNA Act (the Constitution Act, 1867) makes no explicit reference to human rights” (240). The adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms significantly transformed the operation of Canada’s political system. Presently, Canadians define their needs and complaints in human rights terms. Bryden states, “More and more, interest groups and minorities are turning to the courts, rather than the usual political processes, to make their grievances heard” (101). Since it’s inception in 1982 the Charter has become a very debatable issue. A strong support for the Charter remains, but there also has been much criticism toward the Charter. Academic critics of the Charter such as Robert Martin believe that the Charter is doing more harm than good, and is essentially antidemocratic and UN-Canadian. I believe that Parliament’s involvement in implementing the Charter is antidemocratic, although, the Charter itself represents a democratic document. Parliament’s involvement in implementing the Charter is antidemocratic because the power of the executive is enhanced at the expense of Parliament, and the power of the judiciary is enhanced at the expense of elected officials, although, the notwithstanding clause continues to provide Parliament with a check on... ... middle of paper ... ...of the executive is enhanced at the expense of Parliament, and the power of the judiciary is enhanced at the expense of elected officials, although, the notwithstanding clause continues to provide Parliament with a check on the judiciary. References Bryden-Martin. Is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Antidemocratic? Charter of Rights and Freedoms Kallen, Evelyn. (2010) Ethnicity and Human Rights in Canada. (3rd ed.) Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 240-270 Kelly, James. (2007). Parliament and the Charter of Rights: and unfinished constitutional revolution. Policy Options, 28 (02), 103-107. Makarenko, Jay. (2007). Parliamentary Government in Canada: Basic Organization and Practices. Government & Institutions. Russell, Peter. (2007). The notwithstanding clause: the Charter’s homage to parliamentary democracy. Policy Options, 28 (02), 65-68.
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