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?