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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 Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

(p.65) 5 Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
Delegating Rights Protection

David Erdos (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the socio‐political genesis of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982). The first part of the chapter examines the immediate political origins of this instrument. It is found that, as an elite federal political project, the Charter was triggered by a felt need to create a new unifying institution to counter the centrifugal forces of Québécois nationalism. The powerful, largely self‐interested, and prospective nature of this ‘threat to political stability’ trigger encouraged elites to push for a fully constitutional instrument, something which was largely achieved. This trigger also led to a substantive focus on protecting rights integral to building up a pan‐Canadian identity including, most particularly, intra‐provincial anglophone and francophone linguistic rights. The second part of the chapter explores background social pressure for a constitutional bill of rights during this time. It is found that civil libertarians and social equality seekers, both given added political saliency by the continuing postmaterialization of the Canadian economy and society, were critical advocates of a constitutional bill of rights, helping the federal government defeat counter‐mobilization by recalcitrant provincial premiers. In turn, these groups critically structured many of the most important substantive aspects of the Charter. The chapter closes by considering the origins of the aboriginal rights protections and the absence of a right to private property within the Charter.

Keywords:   Canadian Charter of Rights, Québécois nationalism, federal—provincial relations, linguistic rights, postmaterialization, civil libertarians, social equality seekers, aboriginal/indigenous rights, property rights

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