Charter Cases: Section 15: Equality Rights

Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

(1) Everyone has the right to equality before the law and to equal protection of the law without discrimination because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age or sex.

(2) This section does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged persons or groups

Quebec (Attorney General) v. A, 2013 SCC 5

“A”, a “de facto spouse” who did not receive spousal support at the end of a seven-year conjugal relationship, challenged the constitutionality of Article 585 of the Quebec Civil Code, which establishes a right of spousal support in the event of divorce, but not in the event of the breakdown of a marriage-like relationship. This distinction, A argued, is contrary to the guarantee of equality in Section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights

Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 SCC 12

Withler v. Canada was based on a pair of class actions claiming that the Public Service Superannuation Act and Canadian Forces Superannuation Act discriminated on the basis of age in the allocation of death benefits to the spouses of deceased federal employees and military personnel. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights

Charkaoui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2007 SCC 9

The appellants in this case challenged Sections 77 to 85 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which authorized the federal government to detain a permanent resident or refugee for national security reasons. Although detainees could challenge these so called “security certificates” in Federal Court, they were not entitled to review the evidence against them. Furthermore, once a Federal Court judge determined that the certificate was “reasonable” (on the basis of evidence that the accused could not see), there was no avenue of appeal or judicial review. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights, Section 7: Life, Liberty, & Security of the Person, Section 9: Arbitrary Detention

Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth & the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), [2004] 1 S.C.R. 76

The Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth & the Law, a childrens’ rights organization, brought an action for declaratory relief striking down Section 43 of the Criminal Code, the legislation which decriminalizes the spanking of children for the purpose of corrective discipline. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 12: Cruel & Unusual Punishment, Section 15: Equality Rights, Section 7: Life, Liberty, & Security of the Person

Law v. Canada (Min. of Employment and Immigration), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497

Law v. Canada involved a challenge of the formula by which survivor’s benefits are granted under the Canada Pension Plan. Nancy Law claimed these benefits at age 30, after the death of her husband who had contributed to the Canada Pension Plan for a period of 22 years. Law argued that the provisions of the Canada Pension Plan that limited access to survivor’s benefits on the basis of age were a violation of her equality rights under Section 15(1) of the Charter. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights

Vriend v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493

Often described as a high-water mark of judicial activism in Canada, the Vriend case involved an allegation that Alberta’s provincial human rights legislation was too narrow, and therefore inconsistent with the Charter. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 SCR 143

Mark David Andrews, a lawyer resident in British Columbia was refused membership in the provincial Law Society on the grounds that he was a British subject and lacked Canadian citizenship. Continue reading

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Filed under Section 15: Equality Rights