As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Harper government insists on casting the Canadian Bill of Rights as not only the catalyst for the Charter, but indeed itself as a great instrument of rights protection. This is to misstate history, to minimize the importance of Charter, and to marginalize the revolutionary impact that this document has had not only on our laws, but on our lives.
It was Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, with his 1960 Bill of Rights, who took the first important step to enshrine Canadians' rights in law. If Pierre Trudeau's Charter of Rights is to truly unite Canadians, then it must protect the rights of all Canadians, not just the favoured causes of the left. Until it does, one should not be surprised that some, like Stephen Harper, do not put it up on a pedestal.
It seems the party that gave us the Charter is on life support. In a room that was barely half full with aging elected officials, the Liberals celebrated the Charter's 30th anniversary on Tuesday. Looking at former leader Jean Chretien and current leader, Bob Rae, one can predict the certain demise of a once proud party.