Federalism, Equality and Autonomy: Toward an Embedded Feminist Constitutional Agenda

11 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2014

See all articles by Gillian Calder

Gillian Calder

University of Victoria - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 22, 2014


There are no doubt thousands of pathways, direct and indirect, by which constitutions work to enforce and to unsettle the institutions, practices, and understandings that regulate social status of men and women.

In October 2005 the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision in Reference Re Employment Insurance Act (Can.), ss. 22 and 23. The Court had been called upon to determine the constitutionality of the maternity and parental leave benefits regime, in place in Canada since 1971, on division of powers grounds. The manner in which the question had been posed to the Court had caused considerable concern, primarily amongst Canadian feminists, and activists within the labour movement. Since the mid-1990s there have been numerous efforts to challenge the way in which the benefit was delivered using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the basis that its eligibility requirements were discriminatory. Yet, the question that ultimately wound its way to the highest court in Canada did not ask the justices to contemplate whether the benefit, as structured, enhanced the equality of women and other caregivers. They were asked solely to determine which body in Canada's federal system, the provinces or the federal government, had jurisdiction over this benefit regime.

Suggested Citation

Calder, Gillian, Federalism, Equality and Autonomy: Toward an Embedded Feminist Constitutional Agenda (August 22, 2014). Alberta Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 4, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2485474

Gillian Calder (Contact Author)

University of Victoria - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 1700, STN CSC
McGill at Ring Rds (Fraser Bldg)
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics