You may already be aware of how protected the rights are of citizens in Canada. We live a lifestyle free from much of the conflict that other citizens face daily in their own countries. Understanding the source of that protection is an important part of understanding your relationship with your country.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – What’s it about?
Before Studying it, Compare Your Understanding with a Peer/Group:
Method of Collaborating: Decide to EITHER a) join a shared Google Doc together and develop responses collaboratively to the questions that follow OR b) go outside (in the beautiful fresh air) and audio record your discussion and shared thoughts to the following questions. OR alternative c) join an Online Teams Meeting and Record your session.
Either choice of a or b – make sure you eventually share your collaboration with me directly.
If choosing a – share the doc to my @gmail acct
If choosing b – share the audio conversation to my @sunwest acc
If choosing c – join a Breakout Room in our Social 10 Teams Channel. The recording you create will be accessible to me through the program.
Discussion Questions to Ponder Together Before Reading:Record your responses in either the Google Doc, Audio Recording, or Teams call
Background: What do you think the Canadian Charter is and/or what does it do for Canadians?
Cause and Effect: Imagine if it did not exist in Canada or offer any protection to Canadians. Can you list ways (at least 4?) the lives of Canadians today might be altered?
ex: You could be arrested and held indefinitely without a set trial date or even access to a lawyer.
Judgement: The Canadian Charter offers many protections to citizens, protections from each other and from the government. Do you believe there is one area of protection more important than others?
ex: Do you think protecting a person’s Legal Rights is more necessary/important than protecting a person’s Voting Rights or Language Rights?
Yes/No: Explain your response
Connection to Last Topic: What does it say of the relationship between Canadians and their government (our Social Contract) that this is a government protection offered to Canadians?
Read the following article together and discuss: Document your discussion and answers by in either the Google Doc, a recording, or Teams call for parts 2-5. It is optional to also record step 1, the reading.
Following world events helps us understand the relationship of countries and their citizens more and we start to recognize how the differences in those relationships, like a country under dictatorship rules verses one as a democracy, impact the types of events reported from within them. There are also economic differences by regions in the world as well as different freedom levels. Following current event issues globally will give us a lot to discuss and connect to our class studies.
Our Units of Study will be the focus of the news articles you select. You’ll try picking events that relate to any of the issues that are part of the following Units:
decision making and control
rights of citizens and the role of government
Ideologies – political perspectives and parties
Economy styles and issues
types of world economies
supply and demand
International Economic Relations
foreign trade deals for Canada
tariffs on imports
NAFTA (CUSMA) (USMCA) (?)
the wealth of nations – independence
International Political Relations
Canada’s security from threats
Canadian sovereignty – economic-wise and land control (Arctic)
Canada’s role in foreign partnerships – NORAD
Websites for Current Events: You’ll rotate between Canadian National news one week and Global News the next.
Current Events/Mapping Outline:
You can use the following prompts to help you develop your analysis of each of your article choices. The topics cover the source of the article, the word choice use in reporting it, considering whether it is well detailed or a general reporting of an event, as well as connecting it to our topics of study in Social 10.
Mapmaker – National Geographic – interactive mapping
Current Events Mapping Project:
So far, we together have practiced a few Current Event activities, choosing a source for the search, filtering through a number of the news reports that day, and summarizing what’s happening and who is involved.
Now, you’ll have your own Current Events Project to continue with, but it will also include some Mapping. Following the locations of the events you are learning about is also a real-life way to learn a bit more about the locations of countries in the world, the types of issues they are dealing with, and also tracking within Canada where common news events are happening.
This will be an ongoing project throughout the semester. It is part of your course assessment and valued at 20% of your grade.
An Optional element of this project can also include a weekly Journalling extension; it would be space for you to reflect on the types of issues happening around the world and how you feel you relate to them or don’t relate because you have the privilege to live in Canada.
If you are concerned about being able to deliver enough content and demonstrate accuracy and understanding, this Journal Extension is an opportunity to pull some marks from the events and mapping and be assessed on your personal reflections of the week’s events.
Assessment Plan: Let’s Co-construct how you will be evaluated and the requirements.
Societies have to learn to work together to run smoothly, including a clear understanding of what citizens have to do to remain part of society and what the government will provide them in exchange. Because it’s worked like this for so long, it’s hard to recognize the give/take relationship between citizens and their government, but the Covid-19 experience was such a change from normal that it helps use recognize more clearly the role of government as provider and the responsibility of citizens to follow the expectations set for them.
We’ve just recently gone through our election process in Canada and you’ve been fortunate enough to have time to discuss and learn about this decision-making power through real, current events.
Some other examples related to parliament and the ways decision-making is fairly made and balanced in Canada are included below:
Parliament/Provincial Legislative: What’s the difference between minority and majority governments? And what examples have we had of them in Canada’s recent government? Find out what number of seats the different parties had that allowed for the party forming the government to be designated as either a majority or minority government.
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
ian 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 acceptin 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?
Who is a minority group in Canada or what makes someone a minority?
In what kinds of ways does the Charter protect minorities, and all Canadians?
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?
Is the Charter necessary in Canada, in your opinion? Why?
Can you list specific occasions or groups that are protected by the rules within the Charter?
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.
We’ve learned there is a balance of decision-making power between government and the people. Protections exist in our government documents to ensure government cannot overreach their authority. It also requires they protect the rights of all citizens, though it is not an equal level of protection.
The following videos explain further the background behind several important parts of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
While you watch, you’re asked to develop the following in the given handout:
summarize the important elements of each section of the Charter, per video
create a list of terms or concepts that are significant, possibly new to you
develop at least one thoughtful question related to each video section. (Remember to aim for questions that require a fair amount of thinking and cannot easily be answered by a specific moment in the video.)
Canada is considered one of the best societies in the world with high quality of living. Part of that measurement is because there are strong individual rights protected by law in Canada. Their source is Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section explores that and what it means to Canadians.
These rights apply to Canadian citizens, including people with Permanent Resident status. They only lack two “Rights” other Canadians enjoy.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms set out the protections for individuals, but as society changes and our needs so do the laws supporting those protections. The Supreme Court of Canada is the final say for laws in Canada.
Example: Ban on Sikh kirpan overturned by Supreme Court
Decision-making power in any country is of primary importance. Who gets that power, how they use it, who is excluded from it: these are all important characteristics that can change what a society looks like.
Example: If a single dictator makes all decisions, it is a very different type of society as a result, than if every citizens has a part in the decision-making power, like we do in Canada.
How is power divided in Canada? By the Canadian Constitution document.
It was first made and named the British North America Act of 1867
The rest of the land within Canada’s current landmass was held as colonies by the British. Parts of Canada were added to Canada as provinces and territories over time.
The decision-making power was held in Canada by government, but was still under the responsibility and authority of the British Crown, as part of the British colonies.
Canada was later given freedom from the colonies, becoming truly its own country, with autonomy (its own decision-making control).
An essential part of the original BNA Act are two Sections of the document which divide the decision-making responsibilities of the Federal (country-wide) and Provincial (regional) governments.
Section 91 – Federal responsibilities
Section 92 – Provincial responsibilities
The British North America Act was later amended to be called the Constitution Act of 1982 in a big ceremony where the Queen of England came to Canada and brought with her the original BNA document that established Canada’s beginnings.
Now a complete country made up of many provinces and territories, the federal Canadian government and provincial leaders negotiated an adjustment to the new document that would define how Canada as a country and society would function.
A big part or change in that document was the creation/inclusion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
We’ve discussed the Social Contract that exists in a society, the agreed upon rules citizens and leaders accept to help keep the society running smoothly. Four of the essential elements to maintain that balance and structure are:
Freedom: practicing and protecting our freedoms
Order: trying to establish/maintain order in society
Equality: maintaining and fighting to keep equality among groups
Hierarchy: the levels of responsibility some take on to provide for society
To get a better sense of what each of these provides for society, a list of events are compiled below. Consider each and decide which of the four essential elements of our Social Contract they fall under.
Read the title carefully
Skim the beginning of the article to get a sense of what the news article is informing readers about
Consider your four possible element options
Discuss with your partner(s) – what decision do you come to together?
News events/articles – samples of events in society that show evidence of the Freedom, Order, Equality, and Hierarchy that exists in Canada.
Canada began with and is still widely reliant on its agriculture industry. Because of its importance to the country and globally, different initiatives have been developed to help support that industry.
Research online to learn about the following topics:
Canada’s National Policy
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool
The Co-operative/Credit Union movement
The Canadian Wheat Board
For each, find information to explain:
why the policy or organization was necessary? (what did it hope to accomplish?)