12 October 2015

#72 Not There to Help You with Your Rights

Canada used to have a Court Challenges Program. Recognizing that minorities seeking to have their rights recognized in the courts might not have the means to do that (it can cost many, many thousands of dollars), the program began in the late 1970s for language minorities and then was expanded by the Mulroney government in 1985 after the equality provisions of the Charter came into effect. The program helped to shape and define the application of the Charter in Canada.

As a funding program, it was a sitting duck for a hostile government. All that was required was to not fund the program, and that is exactly what was done when the Prime Minister took power in a minority government in 2006. It must be rather frustrating that challenges under the Charter have not dried up and have actually served to invalidate a number of the outgoing government’s legislative actions.

Maybe if they paid more attention to what the courts were saying they wouldn’t have that problem having their laws affirmed. But their victory is still partial: they are impoverishing those whose rights are violated on the road to having their laws thrown out.

Further reading here

We pass what we want
and you shut up and take it
or pay the challenge

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