Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Well, some of us celebrate . . . Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the Patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the signing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a press release. Meanwhile, folks on Twitter are hosting their own celebration of sorts. CBC's "The Current", with Anna Maria Tremonti, is spending an hour discussing it (I'll post a link to the podcast when it becomes available). Stories dissecting every angle can be found in the major newspapers, radio news programs, television, and so on. So why not our elected national government?

Harper's explanation for not wanting to bring attention to the Charter are interesting in that he calls it. "an interesting and important step, but I would point out that the charter remains inextricably linked to the patriation of the Constitution and the divisions around that matter, which as you know are still very real in some parts of the country," In other words, it's because it might upset Quebec that his government won't mark the anniversary.

The truth may have more to do with his government than with Quebec however. Witness this 2004 quote former Conservative MP Randy White; "If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there's got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there." In other words, the Charter is a thorn in the Conservative government's side and an impediment to them getting everything they want.

So why is the Charter important? The following video with current Liberal leader Bob Rae provides an explanation.

To wrap up, take a few minutes to watch the following fascinating discussion with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as he reflects on the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the patriation of the Canadian Constitution, Harper's press release, and the need to unite the left in Canada. He also talks about the Night of the Long Knives and calls it a myth.

Happy Charter Day, Canada!

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