This Week in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 2018-06-17

by | June 17, 2018

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Last week, in response to my request from over six weeks earlier, the Liberal Government finally released details outlining the impact on Manitoba from their “Liberal values test” within the Canada Summer Jobs program.

The numbers revealed that 101 community and faith-based organizations in Manitoba were unable to participate in the Canada Summer Jobs program because of the Liberal government’s new discriminatory attestation requirement. This figure makes up part of the 1,559 applications that were denied over the attestation nationwide.

The government’s response reads: “In Manitoba, 101 applications were deemed ineligible on the basis of submitting an incomplete application in relation to the attestation. The category the Department uses to track ineligibility in relation to the attestation does not solely track failure to sign the attestation, but also includes modified and removed attestations.”

What we see from these numbers is that, at a minimum, 101 summer jobs that may have been created for students in our communities across Manitoba will not exist this summer. And since each individual applicant can request funding for several positions, the number of lost opportunities for Manitoba’s youth is likely much more significant.’


“The Supreme Court of Canada says the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was correct in deciding it does not have the jurisdiction to consider whether Canadian laws are discriminatory, a decision that comes as the government launches consultations to remove sexism from the Indian Act.

The top court on Thursday dismissed a challenge of tribunal decisions brought by the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of two families who could not pass their Indian status on to their descendants because of discriminatory policies in the Act.

The Tribunal said in rulings in those cases that it could decide whether government services had been distributed unfairly but does not have the power to consider direct challenges to legislation because legislation is not a service. The decision was later upheld by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.

In a decision written by Justice Clément Gascon, the Supreme Court found that the tribunal and the courts were right to dismiss the challenges.”


“Everybody gains an education, but not in the way they may have wanted to, given the recent decision in the most important legal case determining religious freedom in Canada of the past decade.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada announced a pair of 7-2 rulings that dealt a blow to Trinity Western University’s hopes of running a nationally accredited law school. It’s a result that has been disquieting to both sides represented in court as it pitted two important societal values against each other: the freedom of religion and the promotion of equality. This is the messy, imperfect work of living with personal beliefs and convictions that must fit the Charter Rights and Freedoms that shapes Canada.

A portion of Christian freedom of expression loses big time in this ruling, which implies that in Canada, sexual identity trumps religious identity. Christian belief understands that sexuality is informed by the God of the Bible. So when TWU, a Christian university in Langley, B.C., wanted the ability to train accredited lawyers, it meant those students would have to sign the school’s community covenant to enroll. The covenant prohibits having sex in any way except the context of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Law Societies in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and B.C. argued that such a voluntary surrender of sexual rights discriminated against Charter freedoms.

Our Supreme Court justices decided the TWU community covenant disqualifies graduates from mandatory law society accreditation. TWU’s community covenant has a host of other lifestyle conditions, such as prohibition of harassment, verbal intimidation, gossip, obscene language, lying, and drunkenness.”


“Ewert appealed from a judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal setting aside a decision finding Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) had breached its obligation under s. 24(1) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) and had infringed Ewert’s rights under s. 7 of the Charter. Ewert, who is a Métis inmate, challenged the CSC’s reliance on certain psychological and actuarial risk assessment tools. He claimed the validity of the tools, when applied to Indigenous offenders, had not been established through empirical research. The reliance on those tools, he further argued, infringed his rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter and the CSC did not take all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of information about offenders as required by s. 24(1) of the CCRA. The trial judge concluded that the CSC had infringed Ewert’s rights under s. 7 of the Charter and did not meet the requirements of s. 24(1) of the CCRA. He ordered an interim injunction that prohibited the CSC from using results generated by the impugned tools with respect to Ewert. The Federal Court of Appeal allowed the Crown’s appeal and found that Ewert did not establish on a balance of probabilities that the impugned tools produced inaccurate results when applied to Indigenous inmates. The issues raised by the appeal were whether the reliance on the tools resulted in a breach of s. 24(1) of the CCRA and the infringement of ss.7 and 15 of the Charter.

HELD: Appeal allowed in part. The statutory purpose of the correctional system supported an interpretation according to which the CSC’s obligation under s. 24(1) extended to the accuracy of psychological or actuarial test results that it used. Ewert did not have to prove that the impugned tools produced inaccurate results. The question to be addressed was whether the CSC’s actions were sufficient to fulfill the legislated standard of all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy, currency and completeness. Section 4(g) of the CCRA represented an acknowledgement of the systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous persons in the Canadian correctional system. The clear direction expressed in s. 4(g) and the underlying rationale for that direction strongly supported the conclusion that CSC’s inaction with respect to the concerns raised about the risk assessment instruments fell short of what s. 24(1) of the CCRA required it to do. The finding that there was uncertainty about the extent to which the tests were accurate when applied to Indigenous offenders was not sufficient to establish that there was no rational connection between reliance on the tests and the relevant government objective. Thus, Ewert did not establish that the CSC’s reliance on the tools violated the principle of fundamental justice under s. 7 of the Charter.  Furthermore, Ewert failed to establish infringement of his rights under s. 15 Charter on the basis that the evidentiary record was not sufficiently developed. The Court appropriately exercised its discretion and issued a declaration. Exceptional circumstances included the fact that Ewert had already used the statutory grievance mechanism under the CCRA.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.

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