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Delegating Rights ProtectionThe Rise of Bills of Rights in the Westminster World$
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David Erdos

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557769.001.0001

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Canada and the Canadian Bill of Rights Act (1960)

Canada and the Canadian Bill of Rights Act (1960)

(p.47) 4 Canada and the Canadian Bill of Rights Act (1960)
Delegating Rights Protection

David Erdos (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter forwards a new socio‐political explanation for the genesis of the Canadian Bill of Rights Act (CBORA) (1960). Following a brief chronological overview, the first part of the chapter explores the origins of increased social support for a bill of rights in Canada from the mid‐1930s onwards. It argues that demands for such an instrument arose out of the civil libertarian and social equality communities and that these communities were given added political saliency by the gradual postmaterialization of the Canadian economy and society. Nevertheless, this factor alone, cannot explain the precocious development of such pressures in Canada vis‐à‐vis other Westminster democracies. Explanations of this which focus either on international human rights developments or on the federal features of the Canadian political system are rejected. By contrast, it is found that Canada's particularly close cultural and people‐to‐people linkages with the bill of rights‐infused United States did prove important. The final part of the chapter explores the immediate political origins of CBORA. It is found that this was fuelled by the ‘aversive’ response of key Progressive Conservatives to the perceived abuses of procedural rights and other guarantees under the previous Liberal Government. Combined with the social forces already mentioned, the nature and strength of this trigger strongly influenced both the substantive content and statutory structure of CBORA.

Keywords:   Canadian Bill of Rights Act, postmaterialization, civil libertarians, social equality, federalism, transnational diffusion, aversive constitutionalism, process‐based constitutionalism

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