Apr 16, 2022

By Steve Kee

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Tomorrow, April 17th, marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The roots of the Charter were in Canada’s desire to gain full control over its own Constitution. Because Canada’s original Constitution was an act of the British Parliament in 1867, only Britain had the power to change it.

In 1980, Canada and its provinces began a collaborative process to bring home the Constitution and to incorporate a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A committee of Canadian Parliamentarians, representing all parties, considered more than 1,200 written submissions and over 300 testimonies to develop the final Charter.

Receiving approval from Britain, Queen Elizabeth signed the Canada Act on April 17, 1982 in Ottawa.

Forty years later, human rights groups are now calling on Canada to celebrate the milestone by making changes to ensure the Charter applies equally to all.

Some activists say the document has yet to achieve its full potential, and governments have continued to violate the rights of Canadians, citing the continued operation of residential schools after 1982 as an example.

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