· Section 1 of the Charter: The Government’s Defense
After going through these steps, the courts will decide whether you have made out your equality claim. They will try to look at each question from your point of view, as the equality seeker, but will also consider whether your point of view is “reasonable”, given the important factors in the social environment affecting your case (Court Challenges Program). If you are successful, the government will then be given a chance to defend its law or policy. It bases its defense on section 1 of the Charter, which states:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees
the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such
reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably
justified in a free and democratic society.
3. Achieving Equality – Attempts Towards the True Democratic Society
While there are ways to prove discrimination within society and fight against it, it would be much wiser to learn about the ways to prevent its ever occurring within the society.
One important way is to educate people about equality so that people understand they should not discriminate. Children from a young age must be taught to understand one another’s difference and respect one another. Citizens must put pressure on the government to take actions that respect equality for everyone.
The last way is to take the government to court to challenge a law that discriminates. Challenging a law in court is often the last choice, because going to court is very expensive and takes a long time. If a court decides that a law discriminates and violates the Charter, it can “strike down” the law (Court Challenges Program). Once a law is struck down, the government usually writes a new law that is not discriminatory to replace the old one.
Cases can still be important to promote equality even if they do not win in court.
In the Thibaudeau case, for example, a woman challenged the tax law that required her to pay taxes on the child support she received from her children’s father. She felt that this was unfair, and took the case to court. The court decided that this law did not violate Section 15. This case still had an important effect because the government is now changing the tax laws to try to make them fairer to all parents (Court Challenges Program).
Equality is one of the most fundamental concepts that maintain democracy. Especially with its characteristic cultural diversity and uniqueness, discrimination within Canadian society is a swift path to self-destruction. Having Equality Rights in the Constitution is one symbol of a democratic society, however it will only remain symbolic unless it is taken into action to prevent discrimination against the disadvantaged within the society. While justice is often considered as outside a common citizen’s intellectual domain, it is the duty of people of Canada to comprehend the key concepts of equality in order to accomplish and maintain the optimum of a democratic society.