Charter taken for granted by Canadians

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Today is 25th anniversary of Canada's constitution

Charter taken for granted by Canadians

AMHERST The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a piece of the Canadian fabric that says a lot about our nation. But its something thats often overlooked by Canadians.

Its something we take for granted, but shouldnt, lawyer Bill Fairbanks said Monday. Its something that protects us every day of every week but we often dont think about it until we need it.

Fairbanks, whos helping organize Law Week events for the Cumberland County Barristers Association, said the Charter of Rights and Freedoms helps define Canada and represents the freedoms that people in other nations dont enjoy.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian constitution and the Charter by Queen Elizabeth.

The Charter provides guarantees under law protecting freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion and peaceful assembly, prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, arbitrary detention and cruel and unusual punishment, guarantees political rights, life, liberty and the security of the person and equality before the law.

Its our operating manual, it represented our growing up as a nation into adulthood, Fairbanks said. Before that our constitution was an act of the British parliament.

To celebrate Law Week, members of Fairbanks association will be visiting area schools to talk to students about the Charter while there will also be a public lecture at the Four Fathers Memorial Library on April 23.

Speaking to the Amherst Rotary Club, Justice Minister and Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott said the Charter is just as important today as it was 25 years ago.

I know the law is the foundation of a peaceful and democratic society. We are extremely fortunate to have a Charter that guarantees individual rights and a legal system that allows us to pursue justice, Scott said. Its such a basic part of our society and is so entrenched in our way of thinking I believe some of us take it for granted.

However, as much as the Charter has protected the rights and freedoms of ordinary Canadians, Scott said theres still much more to be done to tweak the constutition particularly when it comes to youth in trouble with the law and what role their parents have to play.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Charter, Cumberland County Barristers Association, Fairbanks association Amherst Rotary Club

Geographic location: Canada

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