The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Essay by darsumHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2009

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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms plays a major role in Canadian society, and has been a huge part of our country now for 27 years. This being from the Constitution Act of 1982, which makes the charter of rights a part of Canadian constitution. Canadian constitution is described as a set of laws containing rules on the way Canada operates. The Charter recognized the rights of individuals who never had their rights noticed in the past, for example; disabled persons, and persons with different sexual orientation. Not only did the charter of rights recognize the rights, it also gave the responsibilities of having a Canadian citizenship, for example; what is to be expected from the government, commerce and business, the media, the courts and the individuals. Transformed from the “Canadian Bill of Rights” which did not have the right to vote and freedom of movement in Canada, the Charter now allows every individual to have equal rights whereas the Bill of Rights was only applicable to the federal government.

The Charter provides us with the freedom of religion, right to vote, and mobility rights, as well as legal rights for those in contact with the criminal justice system. Equality is greatly emphasized in the Charter of Rights to all citizens, for example those of different aboriginal backgrounds and of different sexual orientation. It is thanks to the Charter of Rights that we as Canadians have the ability to think what we want, say what we want and make for ourselves the lives that we want. It was important that Canada have a list of our rights that could not be changed by anyone, not even members of federal and provincial governments. While in the past Canadians were forced to rely on the “Canadian Bill of Rights” the main difference between the two is that the Bill of Rights could be changed by a parliamentary majority, and the Charter of Rights can not be taken away from any individual.

The Charter has helped Canada in many ways, for example courts have since gained new power in court, helping them to make a lot of important decisions, including “R.v. Morgentaler,” which put to an end abortion laws. Prior to this women were only allowed to have an abortion if they had received a certificate from the “therapeutic abortion committee.” The only way to get this certificate was for three doctors to decide whether it fit an exemption to the law, and this was only if the continuation of pregnancy proposed any medical harm to the mother. Before the Charter of Rights, sexual orientation was omitted from the discrimination laws, therefore you could treat people who were homosexual any way you pleased and the law wouldn’t do anything about it. Later the courts read the protection of these people into the law. The Charter was meant to bring equality to our country and national unity. Pierre Trudeau quoted that Canada itself is a “society where all people are equal and where they share some fundamental values based upon freedom.”The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will forever continue in the making of Canadian society and the freedom of the country’s citizens. Without the Charter of Rights we wouldn’t have the life we are used to today. We would no longer have the freedom to live the way we want and choose the way we live. Three out of four Canadians feel that the charter of rights has become a major symbol of Canada’s identity, as well as 82% of Canadians agree that the charter of rights has had an amazing impact on the protection of the rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens.

SOURCES:"Counterpoints: Exploring Canadian Issues"by Michael Cranny and Garvin Moles