“There is a song by Jean-Pierre Ferland that romanticizes that it is at 30 that women are beautiful. Before, so the rhyming goes, women are only pretty. Is the Charter beautiful at 30? Has its features grown harmoniously? Does it project an air of maturity without cynicism or a sense of capabilities without fatigue?
Certainly, the Charter had an exciting youth: the early days were marked by much enthusiasm and the Supreme Court developed an optimist vision celebrating the Charter’s arrival as a sign of a new modern Canada, committed to human rights and civil liberties. The Court was bold in its pronouncements, but always willing to accept limitations on a right, if necessary for the public good. Limits on freedom of expression were accepted, and hate speech and pornography provisions survived, if only slightly tightened.
In adolescence, one could sense awkwardness : inconsistent statements on the right to equality and graceless decisions on the interpretation to the famous clause that allows governments to assert that a violation of rights is “justifiable in a free and democratic society”. This identity crisis did not really abate in early adulthood. But in recent months, a sense of purpose is emerging. The Charter seems to be there, at a minimum, to protect us from inconsiderate and abusive politics, from mean or discriminatory governmental behaviour that may be popular, but profoundly unfair. This may be the new Charter identity: more modest, but with sufficient strength and poise to act…
“C’est à 30 ans que les femmes sont belles… Avant, elles sont jolies, après, cela dépend d’elles » . So the song ends humourously with the proviso that after 30, beauty is far less certain… We will have to wait and see.”
Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
>> Read Nathalie Des Rosiers’ message to CCLA members on the anniversary of the Charter
>> Read an op-ed by Danielle McLaughlin, Director of Education “Forget Sesame Street! Your Kid Should Read The Charter“
>> Check out the Charter Project!
>> CBC.ca – 6 Big Changes The Charter Has Brought