Charter Equality at Twenty: Reflections of a Card-Carrying Member of the Court Party
National Journal of Constitutional Law, 20: 115-127.
13 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2006
On the twentieth anniversary of the Canadian Charter's equality guarantees, the author reviews the record of Charter litigation as a means to redress inequalities in Canada and concludes that it is mixed at best. Far from undermining Canadian democracy, the Charter provides an important and legitimate avenue for challenging growing social inequities. Yet, low income litigants invoking the Charter have met with limited success due to a series of presumptions, including that social policy is beyond the legitimate purview of the courts, and that the state is neutral in its dealings with the poor. All in all, the author suggests, the relationship between rights and democracy is far more nuanced than the Charter critics argue, and the real question is not whether the Charter and the so-called Court Party are destroying democracy, but rather how the Charter's equality rights can inform and contribute to further strengthening the underlying values of our democratic system.
Keywords: Charter, rights, freedoms, Canada, low income, social policy, Court Party, neutrality, democrac, equality, inequality, inequities
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