Why Charter of Rights and Freedoms? • Canada’s constitution • Reasonable limitation on government and individual freedoms • Based on the values “we” hold as a society • Ensures certain basic rights of every Canadian citizen and permanent resident
Our Rights • The CCRF is broken down into sub-sections. One deals with individual rights, while another part deals with collective rights. Below are the rights guaranteed to all individuals: • Fundamental Freedoms • Express your opinions • Choose your own religion • Organize peaceful meetings and demonstrations • Associate with any person or group • Democratic Rights • Vote for members of the House of Commons and Provincial legislatures • Vote for a new government at least every five years
Our Rights • Mobility Rights • Move anywhere within Canada and to earn a living there • Right to enter, stay in, or leave Canada • Legal Rights • Free of imprisonment, search and seizure without reasons backed by law and evidence • Fair and quick public trials by an impartial court that assumes that you are innocent until proven guilty • Equality Rights • To be free of discrimination because of race, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, age, or mental or physical disability
Past Examples • As you know, the CCRF has only been a part of Canada since 1982, but Canada has been a country since 1867… what about peoples’ rights before 1982? • Examine the examples and reflect on what they mean for individual rights
Indian Act • In 1867, the Indian Act was passed and was intended to “deal” with First Nations peoples who had signed treaties • It was passed without consulting First Nations peoples • Required First Nations people to obtain government permission to wear traditional clothing • Banned traditional ceremonies • Prevented First Nations from taking political action
Women’s Right to Vote • From 1867 to 1918, women were barred from voting, and running as candidates in federal elections • Women were often imprisoned for petitioning for their rights to vote
Internment • Ukrainian Canadians • WWI in 1914, more than 8000 people were arrested because of their identity • The Ukraine fell into “enemy territory” and arrests were made under the War Measures Act • Worked for the state without any wages • Italian Canadians • WWII Canada used the War Measures Act to arrest people of Italian descent • Property was seized • Arrests affected about 700 people • Japanese Canadians • After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Canadians with Japanese ancestry (even those who were born in Canada) were treated with suspicion or hatred • Under the War Measures Act, more than 20000 people were relocated away from the West Coast • The government sold off their houses, businesses, and possessions
Law making in Canada • No law made in Canada can violate the CCRF • Certain laws seem to be close to the line though, and may cause individuals to challenge them based on their rights • Ex. Robin Eldridge (interpreters provided in hospitals) • Ex. No Fly List • Ex. Pay Equity in Ontario • Ex. Forced retirements
Collective Rights • Collective rights belong to groups of people and are entrenched in Canada’s constitution • Under the CCRF, Canada officially recognizes the collective rights of First Nations Peoples, Francophones, and Metis peoples.
First Nations Collective Rights • First Nations • the umbrella name for the diverse Aboriginal peoples who have collective rights that are recognized and protected in Canada’s constitution. The constitution still refers to First Nations as “Indians,” in keeping with the term used at the time of negotiating treaties. • Indian • Europeans used the word Indian to describe the First Nations of North America, although these peoples were diverse and had names for themselves. May First Nations prefer not to use the word Indian to describe themselves.
First Nations Collective Rights • Initially, when Canada became a country, the First Nations peoples were seen as subjects of Canada… in other words, they were seen as people who happened to live on the land that “belonged” to Canada. • There were treaties set out that dictated to the First Nations people how they could live on and use the land they had resided on for centuries. (The Numbered Treaties)
First Nations Collective Rights • In signing the treaties, Canada’s government believed that the First Nations peoples gave up their right to use the land, however, this is the basis of a long standing dispute between First Nations and the Canadian government • Many First Nations peoples do not believe that land is something that can be owned, and therefore the perspectives of the two signing parties on the treaties, are in conflict.
First Nations Collective Rights • The Indian Act was passed by Parliament to “deal” with the First Nations peoples. • It was meant to assimilate the First Nations into a more acceptable way of life by European standards. This was based on an ethnocentric worldview • Assimilate • Become part of a different cultural group • Ethnocentrism • The belief that one’s culture is superior to all other cultures
First Nations Collective Rights • One issue in First Nations collective rights, is that even in new legislation, the people feel that the government of Canada is still not recognizing their uniqueness, and making decisions on their behalf without consulting the peoples first.
Language Groups • The two official languages of Canada are English and French, spoken by Anglophones and Francophones respectively • These two groups represent official language communities that are protected under the CCRF • Anglophone • a person whose first language is English • Francophone • A person whose first language is French • Official Language Community • One of the groups in Canadian society whose members speak an official language as their first language
Charter Rights • Official Bilingualism • Sections 16-20 of the Charter establish both French and English as official languages of Canada • This includes the rights of Canadians to conduct their affairs with the federal government in either official language • Establishes New Brunswick as an official bilingual province • Minority Language Education Rights • Section 23 says that French of English speaking minority populations of sufficient size has the right to public education in their preferred language
Charter Rights • The rights that are engrained in the Charter today, date all the way back to the BNA Act of 1867. • Even the BNA Act established Canada as an officially bilingual nation with education rights for both language groups
Metis Rights • The Metis are one of Canada’s Aboriginal groups under Section 35 Canada’s constitution • Unlike First Nations, the Metis do not have any treaties with the government • Metis rights have evolved over time, and the collective is now guaranteed rights under the CCRF
Violation of Rights? • Consider the following everyday laws that we follow, do you think they violate the CCRF? Provide reasons. • Why do you think these laws are permitted under the charter? • No Smoking legislation • Mandatory seatbelt laws • Minimum voting/drinking age • Speed limits