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The Charter of Rights and Freedoms – 25 years old today (er.. tomorrow)

I remember watching Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Trudeau on the TV signing this when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know every detail about it, but I knew it was important and I elt that it somehow would change Canada, and for the better.

Today, I think back and I believe my view has been borne out. It has been a positive document for Canada, and many Canadians now view it as an important fabric weaved into what is Canada:

A quarter-century on, the aspirations of Trudeau and the Canadian people in the Charter have seen their ups and downs, but there is evidence that it has transformed the country. The Charter, in several public opinion polls over the years, is viewed as the most important constitutional document of the country, even in Quebec, eclipsing, ironically, the venerable Constitution Act of 1867 that brought the country into being. While Canadians may not know the details of the Charter, they intuit that it is the bulwark of their fundamental values of democracy, equality, freedom and human dignity.

Even in Quebec, you say – the only province under separatist Premier Rene Levesque who refused to sign it? Yes:

Polls show Quebecers are more likely than any other provincial group of Canadians to feel that it has had a positive impact on their lives…The Charter has also allowed for a significant expansion of minority language rights across Canada, an issue that has always been at least as close to the hearts of Quebecers as official bilingualism itself…Court rulings on minority education rights have caused Quebec to dispose of its religious school structure in favour of one based on language. In a society that militantly subscribes to the concept of the division between church and state, that has widely been welcomed as a positive development. In the same spirit, landmark Charter-based rulings on abortion and same-sex marriage have been more readily embraced in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada.

On this day, I salute the Charter, and Pierre Trudeau for his vision in bringing it about.

UPDATE: Seems I missed the date by 1 day.. My 1 reader has informed me its actually tomorrow… oops. However.. the sentiment of the post remains the same, a day early or not.


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