Big M’s Forgotten Legacy of Freedom

Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper

Supreme Court Law Review (Forthcoming)

34 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2020 Last revised: 15 Oct 2020

See all articles by Jamie Cameron

Jamie Cameron

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: May 1, 2020


Part of a collection of papers on section 2’s “forgotten freedoms” (forthcoming (2020), 100 S.C.L.R.(2d)), “Big M’s Forgotten Legacy of Freedom” returns to the Supreme Court of Canada’s foundational concept of freedom as the absence of coercion or constraint. That early and important legacy of freedom under the Charter failed to inspire and influence the evolution of section 2, especially section 2(b)’s guarantee of expressive freedom and section 2(d)’s guarantee of associational freedom. This paper both claims and demonstrates that section 2’s fundamental freedoms have been less meaningful as a result. In doing so, it places emphasis on section 2(b) and its legacy of limits, rather than freedom, and section 2(d) and its legacy of relative failure, except – and only recently – for labour union claims. After more than thirty-five years, the section 2 jurisprudence lacks a fundamental conception of freedom and theory of section 2 constitutionalism. Big M provides a starting point in working toward those goals.

Suggested Citation

Cameron, Jamie, Big M’s Forgotten Legacy of Freedom (May 1, 2020). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper, Supreme Court Law Review (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: or

Jamie Cameron (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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