What is the Charter?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a set of principles guaranteeing rights to Canadian citizens, and in some cases, to everyone in Canada. The Charter is a part of the Constitution Act, 1982, which is part of the Canada Act, 1982 which was signed by Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, 1982 in Ottawa. This gave Canada control over its Constitution. The guarantee of rights and freedoms in the Charter became part of the supreme law of the land. To view the full text of The Charter, visit http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/charter/

Interviews with Legal Experts

Click here to watch all of the interviews with legal experts. Our interviews include:

Honourable R. Roy McMurtry is currently counsel at Gowlings’ Toronto. He was appointed as the Attorney General of Ontario from 1975-1985, during the patriation of the Constitution. In 1996 he was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario, a capacity in which he served for over 11 years until 2007. He spoke about the Political environment leading up to 1982, and the Kitchen Accord: a graceful compromise (Interview Part #1), he role of the Charter: respect for rights of minorities and mitigating extremism (Interview Part #2), and judicial activism: an appropriate balance (Interview Part #3).



Honourable Justice Ian Binnie served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1998 to 2011. He spoke about the purpose of a dissenting judgment (Interview Part #1), the Charter in the context of international human rights (Interview Part #2), the resources for interpreting the Charter: England, the US and Professors (Interview Part #3), the importance of oral argument (Interview Part #4) and The Charter still developing after 30 years (Interview Part #5).
Honourable Justice Frank Iacobucci served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1991 to 2004. He spoke about the history and reasons for enactment of the Charter (Brief #1), who the Charter is for and it’s role in judicial interpretation (Brief #2). More to follow.
Dr. Emir Crowne is an Associate Professor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. Dr. Crowne has been a member of the Faculty of Law since 2007. He spoke about rights that are missing from the Charter (Interview Part #1), the role of judges in interpreting the Charter and what would be the impact on the law if those rights had been included (Interview Part #2), things to learn from the last 30 years of The Charter, what if the Charter applied to everything and the one case you should read when starting Charter education (Interview Part #3).
Jean Teillet, a partner in the firm of Pape Salter Teillet, specializes in Aboriginal rights litigation and negotiations, with a particular emphasis on Métis rights. She spoke about the importance of Section 35: redressing old and difficult grievances (Interview Part #1), the role of section 35 in protecting Aboriginal rights (Interview Part #2), the development of section 35 since 1982 and (Interview Part #3) the role of The Charter in holding the Government to account (Interview Part #4). Also, in her preview clip (Brief) she spoke about old and difficult grievances, section 35 and the Metis.
R. Douglas Elliott is a founding partner in Roy Elliott O’Connor LLP. He is a self-proclaimed very active Charter of Rights lawyer with a litigation practice that is increasingly focused on class actions. He was counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada on the Reference Re Same Sex Marriage decision. He spoke about a same sex marriage and the effect on public opinion (Brief #1), the role of the notwithstanding clause (Brief #2), section 15 and gay / lesbian rights (Interview Part #1), the development of public opinion around gay and lesbian rights (Interview Part #2), gay and lesbian rights: the early cases (Interview Part #3), and a network of rights advocates (Interview Part #4).
André Marin was reappointed as Ontario’s sixth Ombudsman on June 1, 2010, for a second five-year term. Before 2005, he was the first Ombudsman for the Canadian Armed Forces and Director of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit. More to follow.
Jill D. Makepeace is a Windsor Law alumnus (class of 2003), who practices criminal law in Toronto at the Greenspan Humphrey Lavine Barristers. She also shares her criminal law knowledge and passion by teaching students at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. She spoke about the importance of The Charter (Interview Part #1), the development of The Charter in the criminal context (Interview Part #2), Bill C-10 and The Charter: The Charter and mandatory minimum sentences, and also, the impact on Section 11(b) (Interview Part #3). Jill also spoke about Charter rights of the accused person, focusing on two important cases Stinchcomb (an important development of The Charter for criminal defence) and Seaboyer (the right to make full answer and defence) (Interview Part #4).
Richard Moon is a University of Windsor, Faculty of Law professor. Richard Moon’s research focuses on freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience and religion. He spoke about what it means to have a right or freedom (Interview Part #1), section 2(b): Freedom of expression (Interview Part #2), current issues in freedom of expression (Interview Part #3), and section 2(a): Freedom of conscience and religion (Interview Part #4).
John Whyte held the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan. Among other honourable posts, he served as the Director of Constitutional Law in the Saskatchewan Department of the Attorney General during the constitutional patriation process from 1979 to 1982. He spoke about the scope of legislative choice (Interview Part #1), the effect of section 1 on Canadians (Interview Part #2) and the development of Section 1 over the life of the Charter – The Oakes Test (Interview Part #3). Also, a brief excerpt from his interview is available (Brief).
W.A. Bogart is a University of Windsor, Faculty of Law professor. He is the author of over thirty articles focusing on civil procedure, access to justice, the impact of litigation, and empirical research of legal policy. He spoke about the downside of The Charter (Interview Part #1), protection of rights (Interview Part #2), loss of community (Interview Part #3) and issues of access (Interview Part #4). Also, a brief excerpt from his interview is available (Brief).
Bruce Elman is a University of Windsor, Faculty of Law Professor. He served asDean of Law at Windsor from 2000 – 2011. He has written extensively in Constitutional Law, Evidence, and Criminal Law. He spoke about the time leading up to The Charter (Interview Part #1), Charter education for lawyers and judges (Interview Part #2), The Charter as a part of our national fabric (Interview Part #3) and The Charter’s effect and development (Interview Part #4).
David Tanovich is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor where he teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, evidence, legal ethics, and racial profiling. He spoke about section 9 of The Charter (Interview Part #1) and the development of this section (Interview Part #2). Also, a Brief excerpt from his interview is available.


The Fundamental Freedoms Project

A key partner of Charter Project is The Fundamental Freedoms Project which includes the web site http://charterofrights.ca/. The Fundamental Freedoms Project produced the following content. You are invited to visit http://charterofrights.ca/ for much more written and video content. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is divided into 34 sections. The Inside The Charter section of The Fundamental Freedoms web site provides information about what key sections of the Charter states, with clear explanations of what it means, and case law to review key court cases impacted by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Want to view The Charter in different languages? Click here

Upcoming Charter Conferences & Events:

ACS: Association for Canadian Studies presents: Checking Our Constitution@30: The Influence of the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on Legislation, Identities and Federalism, April 17-18, 2012, Ottawa, Ontario. For more information, click here.

Past Charter Conferences & Events:

Ottawa Law Review’s Second Annual Symposium held in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 9, 2012 will commemorate the 25th anniversary of R v Oakes, [1986] 1 SCR 103, the case that created the legal framework for Section 1 of the Charter. For photos from the event click here.

Other Organizations:

We will be adding a list of organizations with more information. To add your organization, please email charterproject@uwindsor.ca with your web link, Twitter account, logo, brief introduction, preferably in English and French.