'Giving Real Effect to Equality': Eldridge v. B.C. (A.G.) and Vriend v. Alberta
4 Review of Constitutional Studies 352-371, 1998.
19 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2014 Last revised: 17 Mar 2015
Date Written: 1998
In Eldridge and Vriend, the Supreme Court has found that facially neutral laws can offend one’s right to substantive equality under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because of their adverse effects on a disadvantaged group. In this article, constitutional scholar Martha Jackman reviews the facts and lower court decisions, and outlines the Supreme Court of Canada’s reasons for finding equality rights violations, in Eldridge and Vriend. She identifies several key issues which the Supreme Court has clarified in relation to adverse effects-based Charter claims. She concludes by assessing the main criticism which has been made in media commentary and editorial coverage of the Eldridge and Vriend decisions: that, in rendering these judgments, the Supreme Court has usurped the role of elected governments and violated fundamental democratic values and principles. She argues that this position reflects a flawed vision, not only of judicial review and the Charter, but of Canadian democracy also.
Keywords: Eldridge, vriend, supreme court, substantive equality, equality, Canada, Charter, rights, freedoms, disadvantage, constitutional, law, constitution, 1982, effects-based, democratic, separation of powers, judicial review
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation