Dual(ling) Charters: The Harmonics of Rights in Canada and Quebec
Ottawa Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, p. 235, 1992
29 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010
Date Written: 1992
As a result of the entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, there has emerged in the province of Quebec a corresponding call to entrench constitutionally the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, enacted six years earlier. In the fallout of the Meech Lake Accord, where the Canadian Charter was seen as a stumbling block to accommodating Quebec’s demands for distinctiveness, these calls have been renewed in both academic and political circles. Despite the universalistic rights language which both Charters invoke, these apparently differing allegiances emerged, even more strengthened after 1990.
The author explores some of the reasons for these apparently differing allegiances. They are founded, in large part, on differing suspicions about what each Charter entails. By focusing on the terms of the Quebec Charter as compared to the Canadian one, the author attempts to undo some of those suspicions, making less alien the 'other' Charter.
The entrenchment of the Quebec Charter, so as to override the Canadian one, should not be seen as an immense threat to the pan-Canadian vision of equal right-holders. Rather, the Quebec version shares with its Canadian counterpart a common language, a commitment to procedural liberalism, and a common multiplicity of potential interpretations.
Keywords: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec Charter, Meech Lake Accord, Canadian constitutional law
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