Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada issues statement on 35th anniversary of Charter of rights and Freedoms

Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

OTTAWA, April 17, 2017 – The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today issued the following statement:

Today, I join Canadians in celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. April 17, 1982 marked a defining moment in our country’s history, when Canada took the bold step of adopting a rights-protecting document as part of our Constitution.

The Charter has been a powerful force for social progress and the realization of a more inclusive and compassionate society.  Regardless of our sex, our race, our national or ethnic origin, the colour of our skin, the faith we choose or choose not to practice, our age, our mental and physical ability or our sexual orientation, the Charter requires that we all be treated equally under the law.  The Charter both protects and connects Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast. It has become an internationally-renowned document.

On March 13, the Department of Justice launched a countdown to today. Over the past 35 days, Canadians from across the country have embraced our celebration and learned about the Charter, shared what it means to them and taken part in local celebratory activities.

Our Government is demonstrating the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter. We were proud to announce the reinstatement of a modernized and expanded Court Challenges Program, which will clarify and strengthen the constitutional rights of Canadians by providing financial aid to groups who seek to bring test cases. The new program will expand the scope of eligible rights to new sections of the Charter, and will have a modernized governance structure to ensure independence, transparency, accountability and impartial funding decisions.

One of the initiatives I am most proud of as Minister of Justice is the use of “Charter Statements.”  For each bill I have introduced in the House, I have tabled an accompanying Charter Statement, which provides Parliamentarians and the public with more information about how our proposed laws engage Charter-protected rights and freedoms. This ensures that the Charter remains top of mind in the development of legislative initiatives and during the parliamentary process.

Today, we also celebrate the 35th anniversary of the protection of constitutional rights for Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Our Government is committed to a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

The Charter and section 35 are woven into history books and laws, and into the very fabric of our society. As we celebrate their anniversary and Canada 150, let us embrace our constitutional rights and recognize their continued role to helping to shape the Canada of tomorrow.

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SOURCE Justice Canada, Department of

 

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