Retired Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on “The Arc of the Charter: A Personal Perspective”

 

Ana, Mackenzie and Shireen had the privilege of attending York University’s 2018 Constitutional Cases Conference.

The highlight was meeting Retired Supreme Court of Canada Chief (SCC) Justice Beverley McLachlin, who delivered a speech on “The Arc of the Charter: A Personal Perspective.”

When reflecting on the implementation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter), the Chief Justice stated: “Someday,  will be able to look back upon the Charter with the benefit of historical distance. But that day has not yet come. The whole story of the Charter, from its inception to this day, is contemporaneous: for many of us, it is a story entirely encompassed within our own lifetimes.”

While the Charter is no longer in its infancy, the Chief Justice indicated that the Charter is an “unfinished project.” Moreover: “The ‘story’ of Canadian law has been, and will for the foreseeable future continue to be, the story of the Charter‘s impact on Canadian law. But the Charter‘s impact does not end there. A major part of the Charter‘s story is its impact, not just on Canadian law, but on Canada itself.”

Why have Canadians embraced the Charter so thoroughly and affectionately? Why have so many asserted in the past few days that it has become part of Canada’s identity?

The Chief Justice asserted that Canadians have come to see themselves as ‘rights holders’, which aligns with the Charters ‘rights mindset’. The uniquely Canadian character of the Charter is reflected in its emphasis on three kinds of rights: individual rights, tied to a conception of tolerance and respect; collective interests, bound up with an appreciation of the relationship of support and obligation between individual and community; and group rights, tied to a recognition that of pluralism is one of Canada’s animating values.

In pith and substance, the Chief Justice’s speech could be summed as: “We have a Charter that reflect our most fundamental values, that tells us who and what we are as a people.”

We are privileged to have met someone who substantially contributed to the legal landscape of Canada.

 

Ana, Mackenzie and Shireen had the privilege of attending York University’s 2018 Constitutional Cases Conference.

The highlight was meeting Retired Supreme Court of Canada Chief (SCC) Justice Beverley McLachlin, who delivered a speech on “The Arc of the Charter: A Personal Perspective.”

When reflecting on the implementation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter), the Chief Justice stated: “Someday,  will be able to look back upon the Charter with the benefit of historical distance. But that day has not yet come. The whole story of the Charter, from its inception to this day, is contemporaneous: for many of us, it is a story entirely encompassed within our own lifetimes.”

While the Charter is no longer in its infancy, the Chief Justice indicated that the Charter is an “unfinished project.” Moreover: “The ‘story’ of Canadian law has been, and will for the foreseeable future continue to be, the story of the Charter‘s impact on Canadian law. But the Charter‘s impact does not end there. A major part of the Charter‘s story is its impact, not just on Canadian law, but on Canada itself.”

Why have Canadians embraced the Charter so thoroughly and affectionately? Why have so many asserted in the past few days that it has become part of Canada’s identity?

The Chief Justice asserted that Canadians have come to see themselves as ‘rights holders’, which aligns with the Charters ‘rights mindset’. The uniquely Canadian character of the Charter is reflected in its emphasis on three kinds of rights: individual rights, tied to a conception of tolerance and respect; collective interests, bound up with an appreciation of the relationship of support and obligation between individual and community; and group rights, tied to a recognition that of pluralism is one of Canada’s animating values.

In pith and substance, the Chief Justice’s speech could be summed as: “We have a Charter that reflect our most fundamental values, that tells us who and what we are as a people.”

We are privileged to have met someone who substantially contributed to the legal landscape of Canada.

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