November 1

Soc 10 03 Balance of Power – Review/Discussions

After watching the videos about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you should review a few key points, so you’re clear in your understanding.

  • Before the Charter existed, Canada’s Constitution document still belonged to the British. Decision-makers in Canada weren’t able t0 make bigger changes to reflect how Canad
  • Image result for canadian charter of rights and freedomsian society had evolved and grown, since the first Constitution document was written in 1867.
  • Pierre Trudeau campaigned in the Federal election saying he would patriate t
    he Constitution document
    – have it returned to Canada and refreshed through collaboration of the Provincial Premiers and renew that Constitution document – making it truly Canada’s own.
  • The Balance of (Decision-making) Power was established by Sections 91 (giving Federal responsibilities) and Section 92 (giving provincial responsibilities)
  • When the Premiers met together with the Federal government, understandably they were concerned with being asked to give up any/much decision-making power for their provinces, and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms did that – asked them to give up some powers provincially.
  • Only four provinces were part of the original Constitution document – all the other provinces and territories were gradually added into Canada’s Confederation. The balance of power remained as was originally given by the Constitution Act. Being able to “refresh” the Constitution Act, though, meant provinces could negotiate for more powers within Canada’s workings or, at least, fight against the Federal (central) government from taking too much power.
  • The idea of a Charter, an enshrined, unmovable new addition to Canada’s Constitution (balance of power) unnerved many premiers, believing it reduced their own powers provincially. And it did – it meant provinces couldn’t pass or create new laws that would violate any of the rights given/protected in the Charter. They c
  • ouldn’t pass new laws provincially on things like:
    • who could and couldn’t get married
    • language use per province, especially in multilingual provinces like Quebec and some Maritime provinces
    • who was allowed and not allowed to vote, provincially
    • what religious practices could occur or restrictions on any
  • Quebec was especially strong in their resistance to ANY changes or additions to the Constitution documents. Quebec had been given distinct status and unique rights by Britain before Canada as a nation (the four original provinces together) even existed. Anything to further reduce Quebec’s autonomy, power over their own decisions, was fought and, ultimately, Quebec was left out of some of the final decisions because of that resistance.
  • The “give” the Federal (central) government had to accept in order for the provinces to agree to accept the restrictions The Charter would put on them was a Notwithstanding Clause – an “out” that let a province violate certain Charter protected rights. This gave provinces the flexibility to keep enough decision-making power that they’d accept the Charter as a new part of Canada’s Constitution.
  • The Queen brought the document, the Charter was added to it, and all the premiers and federal leader signed it, except Quebec’s premier, though as an existing part of Canada his signature/acceptance of it wasn’t necessary.


What’s so great about the Charter of Rights?

  • It gives so many freedoms and protections to Canadians, even new Canadians, and it is a document admired by citizens of countries the world over.
  • The most significant part of The Charter – it creates greater equality in Canada when it doesn’t really exist.
    • The majority of Canadians cannot vote for new laws that restrict the minorities of Canada.
    • The Charter protects minorities from “the tyranny of the majority” – a quote from Pierre Trudeau.
  • Also, because it’s part of the Constitution document, it cannot be removed. It is entrenched in the Constitution.
    • Previous laws created to help protect minorities or Canadians were made in the form of Bills, but they could be removed or repealled by the next government if it didn’t agree with it.
      • Ex: The Conservative government under Stephen Harper passed the Same Sex Marriage Equality law, but it is only a Bill. When another Conservative government comes into power in the future, they could remove that bill if they had a majority government.
      • Ex: The Liberal government has ennacted a Carbon Emissions Tax Bill. When another Conservative government comes into power, they could remove that Bill.
      • Ex: Howerver, no federal government can remove the right to vote for all citizens – because it is entrenched as part of the Charter.
  • Canada is a country of diversity – we are made of many backgrounds and cultures. That means these protections for citizens are necessary, to protect their human rights.
  • There are limitations, though. The courts help government law makers interpret those laws and help identify times when some restrictions of rights are acceptable and/or when a province can use the Notwithstanding Clause to opt-out of supporting a protected right.


So if I asked you, could you develop a response to each of the following questions?

  1. Who is a minority group in Canada or what makes someone a minority?Image result for personal reflection
  2. In what kinds of ways does the Charter protect minorities, and all Canadians?
  3. What is your personal perspective of the Charter in Canada – would you say you’re proud of what it does for Canadians or does it concern you in some ways? And why?
  4. Is the Charter necessary in Canada, in your opinion? Why?
  5. Can you list specific occasions or groups that are protected by the rules within the Charter?
  6. Describe what Canada might look like as a society if there was no Charter. Identify three distinct behaviours or laws that couldn’t exist without it.

Brainstorm your responses and the reasoning behind them and then record an audio reflection discussing your thoughts. Submit making sure the audio file has your name and Social 10 in it.

Posted November 1, 2019 by Waldner in category Social 10

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