Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Is Enacted (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: By passing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of its constitutional reform act, Canada for the first time specified a set of rights that applied at all levels of Canadian society.
Summary of Event
Constitutions perform many different roles in a political system. The foremost of these is establishing the “rules of the game,” the types of political activity that are permissible and who the decision makers are. Rules are never neutral in their impact on the political system. They give power to some forces within society while denying it to others. The Canada Act of 1982, of which the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a key part, was one of the most controversial political statutes in that country’s history precisely because it rewrote the rules of Canadian politics. In order to understand the controversy surrounding the passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedom, it is necessary to examine the Canadian constitution as it existed at the time. Three features are of special importance: its federalist nature, the establishment of a parliamentary government, and the absence of an amending procedure. The British North America (BNA) Act of 1867 established a federal system of government in Canada. Foremost among the powers granted to the federal government were responsibility for trade and commerce, defense, and foreign affairs. The provinces were given jurisdiction over education and welfare....
(The entire section is 2523 words.)
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