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For Immediate Release:
April 17, 2007
Keeper Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Charter
Ottawa—Twenty-five years after the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed into law we are reminded of its central role in strengthening the foundation of our country, said Churchill MP Tina Keeper today.
“Signed April 17, 1982, under the leadership of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Charter advanced Canada into a new era of protection under the law,” said Ms. Keeper. “Since then the Charter has guaranteed essential political and civil rights on policies at all levels of government from coast to coast to coast. It would serve to strengthen our nation and become the envy of countries worldwide.”The Canadian Charter gave judges the power to strike down laws if they were found to violate the guaranteed rights as outlined in the Charter. The protections include freedom of religion, expression, and association, the legal right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right against unreasonable search and seizure.
“Today we are reminded of the victories of the Charter for ordinary Canadians and the importance the Court Challenges Program played in bringing about those victories,” said Ms. Keeper. “It is shameful that the Conservatives cancelled this program as a part of their ideological cuts last fall. This program had ensured that disadvantaged individuals and groups were able to obtain lawyers to challenge the law.”
Speaking to a conference marking the Charter’s 25th anniversary, Official Opposition Leader Stephane Dion highlighted the Liberals’ commitment to the principles of the Charter.
“The legacy of the Charter is too precious for us to remain indifferent to those who, through antagonism or neglect, would seek to undermine it. There are still battles to be fought. There are still rights to be won.”
Mr. Dion committed that a Liberal government would; reinstate the Law Commission of Canada; reinstate the Court Challenges Program; institute a fair, non-partisan judicial selection process; and increase federal funding for legal aid to provide all Canadians with access to adequate legal representation.
“The Charter can’t be changed without the consent of seven provinces representing fifty percent of Canadians. But it can be weakened, by a federal government not committed to keeping it accessible to the Canadian people,” said the Liberal Leader.
Last September, Prime Minister Harper abolished the Law Commission and the Court Challenges Program. His government also held a vote on reversing same-sex marriage, abandoned the use of the “highly qualified” category in selecting judicial nominees and admitted their desire to stack the courts with ideological conservatives.
For More Information Contact:
The Office of Tina Keeper, M.P.
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