I’m sorry to say when it came down to it I couldn’t resist a bit of history, but in my defence it does relate to the present.
April 17, 1982 the Queen signed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with, then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau. The basic constitution of Canada is therefore quite young, only 30 years old. It was modestly acknowledged by the government, but not really celebrated on its anniversary this year. An extremely important piece of our history deserves a bit more attention, in my opinion.
Under the Charter Canadian citizens gain certain political rights, while all people in Canada are to have specific civil rights. Things some Canadians take for granted every day, as basic as freedom of speech. Or such rights as life, liberty, and security.
Ultimately it has shaped present day Canada, allowing for people whom injustices have been dealt to take the government to court if these rights and freedoms have been violated. It has also helped to propel Canada into the 21st Century where forward thinking and acceptance are the new ideals. Everyone in Canada should feel safe and secure, which is why the Charter was drawn up. It was to create a sense of unity and promote our national values. The fact that we have had advancement in women’s rights and in LGBT rights, the most advanced in the Americas, is because the Charter says Canadians are not to be discriminated against.
Without the Charter of Rights and Freedoms the multiculturalism that Canada so proudly boasts about wouldn’t really be. The fact that we have French schools outside of or that we are required to learn French in Anglo schools Québec for example is dependent on this.
I personally think the Charter works and I am happy to know that I have basic rights and freedoms in my country. Without governments stating the population’s rights and freedoms bad things can sometimes happen, just look to Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. There may be intrinsic constitutional divisions concerning the Charter. The main issue being that Québec has not signed it, now I am not saying that Québec is like either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. They in fact have a provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which provides the same sense of security and unity only separate from the federal one.
According to Prime Minister Steven Harper it was not a day to be celebrated because of this. The thing that upsets me is that Canada is an extremely large landmass that has great diversity amongst its people. The Charter isn’t perfect, but the fact that Canada has it and that it has now shaped how other countries drafted their constitutions is a big deal. Israel, South Africa, Hong Kong, and New Zealand all took the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under consideration in developing their own constitutions. (CBC News)
The other reason though that Harper may have decided to downplay the anniversary of such an historic day is because it was something achieved by the Liberals. For most people in Canada, independent of their political views, they would have celebrated the fact that a large part of what Canada is depends on this piece of paper. Why not celebrate it? In my opinion it is one of the major things that make Canada, Canada.
Many Canadians are not actually monarchists, but with the Queen’s 60th anniversary as regent this year we are all to celebrate. I personally don’t mind the royals, but would this not upset Québec a little more than the Charter being celebrated? They had the choice to sign the Charter and chose not to, which was fine. The federal government did not force them into it. Historically, however, they didn’t really have a choice when the English took over governing them, but now they are forced to celebrate the English monarchy. It just seems a little strange to me how one controversial topic can be celebrated and not another, especially one so Canadian.