Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’

‘Whose body is this?’: The right to die with dignity revisited

January 29th, 2015 by Lauren Blumas

Over the holiday season a story out of Winnipeg grabbed the attention of the Canadian public. The story went something like this: an elderly woman fell in the home she shared with her middle‑aged son. She was injured in the fall and left unable to get up under her own power. Her son, apparently carrying out the wishes of his mother, did not call for emergency assistance and did not move her to bed. Instead, the 62‑year-old covered his mother with a blanket where she lay and provided her with food and water until she passed away several weeks later.

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Taking the fight for housing rights to court

December 18th, 2014 by Safia Lakhani

Earlier this year, we considered the Ontario Superior Court’s decision on the landmark Charter application regarding housing rights in Tanudjaja et al. v. the Attorney General (Canada) (“Tanudjaja”). The applicants, four individuals in precarious housing situations, requested the Superior Court make a declaration that the federal and provincial governments had violated their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: specifically, the right to life, liberty and security (Section 7), and the right to the equal protection and equal benefit from the law (Section 15), by failing to implement a national and provincial housing strategy.

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Anti-terror bill C‑44: Pushing the limits of Canadian rights

November 27th, 2014 by Shelina Ali

On October 29, 2014 the government introduced Bill C‑44, an Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other (related) Acts, cited in short form as the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney stated that the amendments put forward under Bill C‑44 are required to keep Canadians safe from terrorism and to protect and uphold the privacy of confidential informants. However, in achieving the government’s stated goals, Bill C‑44 deliberately pushes the limits of Canadians’ right to privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

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Competing human rights: Trinity Western law school controversy pits faith against equality

March 26th, 2014 by Shelina Ali

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) released its report on Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed law school program in December 2013. The FLSC gave TWU’s law school preliminary approval despite serious concerns expressed by different sectors of the legal profession, including the Council of Canadian Law Deans, that the school’s Community Covenant Agreement, which requires TWU students and staff to agree not to engage in same‑sex sexual intimacy, discriminates against LGBTQ students.

FLSC’s approval has, unsurprisingly, led to strong and divergent opinions on the appropriate balancing of rights.

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Whose freedom of expression is the Harper government protecting?

January 30th, 2014 by Shelina Ali

Last week, in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s address to the Israeli Knesset, he equated criticisms of the Israeli state and its policies with anti-Semitism. He stated that “most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state,” continuing on to say that “it is nothing short of sickening.”

Mr. Harper’s strong condemnation of individuals who criticize Israel’s policies and practices raises serious concerns about his government’s commitment to protecting political speech in Canada. His comments should be seen in light of his government’s claw‑back of hate speech legislation in the name of freedom of expression. In acting as a champion of freedom of expression, while targeting critics of the Israeli government and its policies, Mr. Harper has attempted to redefine political speech as speech that would meet the definition of hate speech under the Criminal Code. These contradictory actions should raise serious doubts about whose expression the Harper government is actually committed to protecting.

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Freedom of expression for federal librarians and archivists under attack

April 1st, 2013 by Priya Sarin

Although federal public servants have always had a limited right to freedom of expression (as compared to private sector employees), certain government employees have recently been subjected to increasingly strict policies, or codes of conduct, which govern their behaviour both in and out of the workplace. Two recent policies effectively restrict access to the media and participation in forums for intellectual debate — such as conferences or teaching engagements. Contrary to what you might expect, these policies do not target employees in the justice, immigration or national defence departments, but rather scientists, librarians and archivists associated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Canadian Heritage. There are two reasons why Canadians should be concerned: 1) this continues a trend of the Harper government to restrict the public’s timely access to valuable information from our experts on issues of national importance (which in turn negatively impacts the quality of our public discourse and ability to make informed decisions); and 2) some of these policies are unnecessarily restrictive and arguably in breach of section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ‑- the right to freedom of expression.

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