Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Updated Charter for Canada in the 21st Century

 Maybe it's time to treat Pierre Trudeau's, and all Canadians', Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a work in progress to be updated periodically but only for the purposes of enhancing its effectiveness and meeting threats to rights and freedoms not contemplated at its inception.

We may sometimes have to add  new, or simply complementary,  rights and expand upon freedoms.  The world in 1982 was much different from the world we inhabit today.  Canada has changed a great deal over the intervening 31-years.   Our democracy was much safer in 1982 than it is today.   We were a more cohesive society than we are today with a still robust middle class.

Equality - Perhaps it would serve us to enshrine equality rights to incorporate equality of opportunity through bolstering health care, relieving poverty and expanding access for all to education.   At a time when the old ladders of social mobility are being pulled up by those at the top, why not simply build new ones, stronger and safer than before?

Religious Freedoms - We might consider expanding religious freedoms to include not only freedom of religion but freedom from religion and the clear separation of church and state.

The Right to a Free Press - Why not grant to every Canadian the right to a free press as an instrument of democratic freedom.   Expressly state the need for the broadest possible ownership of media outlets offering the widest possible range of information and opinion.

Posterity - It should be possible to acknowledge that the rights and freedoms of Canadians today must recognize the interests of future generations of Canadians, including the rights and freedoms of those to follow.

Privacy, Transparency and Accountability - Canadians deserve from their government the protection of their right to privacy safeguarded by the right to transparency and accountability from their government.

Surely none of these is radical.  None threatens the social fabric of the country.  To the contrary, these ideas would be designed to heal the rents that have opened up to threaten our social cohesiveness.  Why not?   What do we have to lose?


Lorne said...

All of your suggestions make eminent sense, Mound. Therefore, I think it is safe to assume they stand not a chance of incorporation as long as the current cabal retains office.

susansmith said...

MoS you should also consider some other rights such as those listed in The Canadian Progressive: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Criticizes Privatization of Water at World Environment Forum. So how about some basics like water and so on.
That blog post compliments yours.

Purple library guy said...

For that matter, there have been some interesting constitutions since the Canadian one that might be worth a look to see if there are any ideas we could steal.
The Venezuelan constitution for instance guarantees not just democracy, but "protagonistic" democracy, talking a fair amount about the right of the people to be in the driver's seat rather than just passively submitting to representation.
Or take article 127:"It is the right and duty of each generation to protect and maintain the environment for its own benefit and that of the world of the future. Everyone has the right, individually and collectively, to enjoy a safe, healthful and ecologically balanced life and environment."

The Mound of Sound said...

Lorne, none of the parties is prepared to do this and Canada will suffer for that. Just because things like these suggestions should be implemented doesn't mean there exists the political will and moral courage to make them happen. Love or hate Trudeau, he had that resolve and fierce moral courage to act, not on behalf of the Liberal party but for the sake of Canada, Canadians and generations to follow. We've not seen his like since.

@ Jan - I had resources in mind in my suggestions about equality and posterity. A nation should be considered to belong to the past, the present and, every bit as much, to the future.

The Norse, for example, have embraced this philosophy in their non-renewable resource policies. They treat their North Sea windfall as belonging not just to today's population but to the Norwegians of the future. Hence they retain that wealth, in specie, in the form of their sovereign wealth fund.

In our Canada it would be considered radical to the point of political and economic blasphemy to treat non-renewable resources as belonging to the future. We're slowly coming around on renewables although not out of altruism but of necessity. What is wrong with an ethos that requires renewables to be husbanded sustainably so that we pass to future generations as much as we received from generations past?

@ PLG - I totally agree. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Add the right to clean water.

There is one set of rights I want taken away: corporate rights. Corporations should not be allowed to override the public good.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, you might enjoy reading Teddy Roosevelt's speech from 1910.

Anonymous said...

[quote] . . .you might enjoy reading Teddy Roosevelt's speech from 1910.[/quote]

Thanks. I've read it before but it is always worth a re-read.

Anyong said...

And the Native Peoples. They ought to be considered with the right to clean water and the right to run their own lands.

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