Dec. 13, 2021
Exploring surprises within Canada’s Charter
Almost 40 years ago, Constitution Act, 1982 came into being. This fundamental change in Canada’s legal landscape includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Among other things, the Charter protects fundamental freedoms and the right to vote; it prohibits discrimination based on colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, and physical or mental disability; and it affirms minority official language rights. The Constitution Act, 1982 also protects the rights of Indigenous peoples, including rights to title and treaty rights.
“Anniversaries are always a good opportunity to reflect on what has happened and what’s currently happening in terms of the Charter and the law,” explains constitutional law expert Professor Howard Kislowicz.
To commemorate the anniversary, Kislowicz has teamed up with constitutional law experts from across Canada and the UK to produce a new book that explores the surprising aspects of the Constitution Act from the past 40 years. Working with the theme “The Surprising Constitution,” academics were asked to submit and present papers in a recent virtual workshop.
“The contributors are exploring various aspects of the Charter and the Constitution Act, including language rights, Section 35 of the Constitution Act (the protection of Aboriginal rights), religious freedoms, freedom of peaceful assembly, multiculturalism, equality rights, and the notwithstanding clause, to name just a few,” says Kislowicz. “When you ask people what's surprising about the Charter, it invites a kind of critical reflection on what you would you expect from it and what we get.”
“It has been fun to see it come together and to get the different perspectives from a variety of experts in the area.”
Written with a general academic audience mind, the team hopes to have the book published in 2022.