Equality

CCLA has a long history of standing up for the rights of people who are disadvantaged – politically, socially, economically – and unfairly treated by the law and by the government.  Such unfair treatment may have been explicit, such as rules that discriminated against a particular group with respect to how they are treated, what benefits they may receive, or what they can do.  One example was the law that only recognized marriages if they involved “one man and one woman”.  This effectively made it impossible for people to marry the spouse of their choice if that person happened to be of the same sex, and as such this law discriminated against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.  In other situations, a rule might not have a clear discriminatory intent, but its effect violates the rights of one group in particular.  For example, rules that violated the privacy rights of people on welfare would only impact those from lower socioeconomic status.  In addition, a great deal of discrimination in our society is systemic – it comes not from any deliberate act or rule, but from discriminatory behaviours, practices or structures that are part of a discriminatory system.  For example, excessively harsh measures against refugees and immigrants may be based on negative societal attitudes to people from various racialized and ethnic backgrounds.

CCLA’s equality program is concerned with all these forms of discrimination, and seeks to promote fairness and equality in Canada.  This includes a broad range of issues and concerns, including: the excessive use of solitary confinement in jails for people suffering from mental health issues; proposed legislation which could automatically jail asylum seekers coming to Canada; racial profiling by police; the freedom of speech of high school students at assemblies and on facebook; the right of a woman living in Canada with precarious immigration status to healthcare to deal with her life-threatening health issues.

The equality program is in a unique position not only to explore each issue on its own, but to take a broad perspective on the intersections of different kinds of disadvantage and on the impact of unfair treatment in relation to these.

Our program uses a variety of methods to address these issues and bring them to public attention, including litigating unfair and unconstitutional laws in court; making submissions to legislative and parliamentary bodies; reaching out to other groups working in these areas; advocating for change of policy or practice with government bodies; and reaching out to the public through the media, conferences and public events.

Equality is one of the core CCLA programs. The following are issues that fall within the program: