M' Aider, Mayday: Section 15 of the Charter in Distress

Document Type

Journal Article/Book Review

Publication Date



Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15, Supreme Court of Canada, Judicial Approaches, Equality Rights, Section 1 Standard, Remedies, Critique


This article examines three section 15 Charter cases from the Supreme Court of Canada (Miron, Egan, Thibaudeau) and one from the British Columbia Court of Appeal (Eldridge). The author discusses the general judicial approach to section 15, the assessment of effects in an equality analysis, the unwillingness to come to grips with adverse effects discrimination, the further weakening of the section I standard, and the Lack of follow-through on remedies. The resistance of the judges to the remedial implications feeds back and produces restricted interpretations at earlier stages of the analysis. The intent is to avoid a remedy that compels the government to provide benefits to particular classes of individuals. The extreme deference as to how financial resources are to be allocated makes Large parts of what government does effectively immune from Charter scrutiny in ways that significantly undermine equality. Beyond the budgetary implications of the analysis, the four cases embrace an essentially static, status quo notion of equality.


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