Canada in the 21st Century • As Canadians, we are blessed with incredible freedom. • There is also a lot of hardship, evil, and more and more persecution. Examples: • Crime and gangs • Abortion • Divorce and the redefinition of family • Pornography • Drugs
How did this come to be? • One factor is that as a country, we have pushed God out of the public square (our courts, Parliament, etc). • We have replaced God with our own standards of right and wrong. • Pierre Elliott Trudeau • 1982 – Charter of Rights and Freedoms • Becomes part of our constitution (Constitution Act) • Effectively replaces the Bill of Rights
Rights, Responsibilities, and Privileges • What is a right? • An entitlement, that comes from someone who has the authority to give it (e.g. life). Usually it can not be taken away. • What is a responsibility? • Something which must be performed as an obligation or duty. Responsibilities are necessary for rights to exist (e.g. uphold the life of our neighbour). • What is a privilege? • A benefit that comes from a particular position which can be removed, changed, or increased (e.g. holidays).
Charter Preamble “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:” • Supposed to set the context for the rest of the Charter. • Is now referred to as the “embarrassing preamble” and ignored. • But if rights require a rights-giver, and if our country doesn’t believe in God, then where do these rights come from?
Section One “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” • Even rights have limits • Can you think of examples?
Section Two Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and d) freedom of association.
Section Three “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”
Section Seven “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” • Who does this apply to?
Sections 8-10, 12 8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. 9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. 10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor; b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; … 12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
Section 15 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Important things to remember • The Charter is meant to protect people from actions by our governments. • What happens when rights conflict? • E.g. a minister being asked to perform a wedding for a couple that he believes shouldn’t be married? • The Supreme Court of Canada • Perhaps the highest authority in Canada • Decides how the Charter should be interpreted.
Dangers from the Charter • The vague wording gives a lot of power to judges to interpret it as they see fit. • They tend to interpret it using a humanist worldview. • Judges and courts are given the power to trump what Parliament says. • Focused on “me first” at the expense of the vulnerable. • Lacks a moral foundation.
Classroom Charter • Rights: • Responsibilities: • Privileges: • Judge?
Assignment – Small Group Activity Please answer the following questions and have one member of your group report on these findings to the class. • In your copy of the Charter, find and highlight the Section of the Charter that has been assigned to you. • Explain this Section in your own words. • Who is this Section meant to protect? Give examples. • What is a Christian response to this Section? Provide some examples, stories, or texts from the Bible that deal with it. • Activity - Make a Skit: • Think of a scenario in which the right(s) in your Section are violated. • Make a short skit, involving all the members of your small group, to act out this scenario. After acting out the scenario, have both sides (those who violated and were violated against) make their argument before the judge, using the Charter in their defence.