Dalhousie Law Journal


citizens, pre-eminence, institutions, rights, freedoms, inalienable, protection


The renewal of the Federation must confirm the pre-eminence of citizens over institutions, guarantee their rights and freedoms and ensure that these rights and freedoms are inalienable. 1 These words from Prime Minister Trudeau are a reflection of the concern today for protection of individual rights and freedoms. His words also reflect the past concerns with protection of individual rights and freedoms particularly in countries which espouse democratic principles. He has recognized that the balance between individual and state interests must be struck in favour of the individual. In order to achieve this result, there must be some consensus in a nation as to what are to be rights and freedoms worthy of protection. Demonstrations, assemblies, parades and street comer orators have been an integral part of the way of life in common law countries such as the United States, Great Britain and Canada. In the United States these assertions of individual liberty are regarded as part of the fundamental freedoms which their constitutional Bill of Rights guarantees will be protected. In Canada, the Supreme Court made it clear on January 19, 1978 that they did not regard demonstrations and street assemblies as fundamental rights or, for that matter, as individual rights at all. 2 They chose, rather to place the state interest above the interest of the individual at a time of political crisis when individual rights are most in need of protection. Although this decision is ostensibly limited to parades, assemblies and demonstrations it could have future implications when other courts are attempting to define the limits of individual liberty. It is this restrictive concept of fundamental freedoms which will create most concern for the future.