Rights, the Homeless, and Social Change: Reflections on Victoria (City) v. Adams (BCSC)
BC Studies, Vol. 164, pp. 103-113, Winter 2009
11 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010 Last revised: 29 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2009
Canadian courts have routinely excluded basic social and economic rights from protection under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A recent judgment of the BC Supreme Court - which found that two bylaws of the City of Victoria infringed the section 7 rights of the homeless individuals who had erected temporary shelter when sleeping outside in public space - is an exception to this record. This case comment focuses on three aspects of the decision: 1. the centrality of the debate over negative and positive rights; 2. the Court's configuration of the underlying sociological issue of homelessness; and 3. the implications of the case for the larger debate on the Charter's potential for effecting trans-formative change.
Keywords: constitutional Law, Canada, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 7, social justice, positive and negative rights, rights to shelter, social and economic rights
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