Does the Charter Matter?

Citation data:

Review of Constitutional Studies. Volume 11, Number 1 (2005), p. 37-117.

Publication Year:
Usage 686
Downloads 637
Abstract Views 49
Repository URL:
Arthurs, Harry W.; Arnold, Brent
article description
This article investigates whether Canada has changed in ways the ways that proponents of the Charter desired and anticipated. We examine the progress of groups that the Charter was intended to benefit (Aboriginal peoples, women, visible minorities, and immigrants); areas of state action that the Charter was intended to regulate (the criminal process and bureaucratic behaviour); and aspects of our communal and public life that the Charter was intended to animate and enhance (politics and inter-group cultural relations). We rely on a significant number of studies of Canadian social development during the period from 1982 to the present. Available evidence suggests that progress towards the vision of Canada inscribed in the Charter has generally been modest, halting, non-existent, and, in some cases, negative. What we claim is that the Charter does not much matter in the precise sense that it has not – for whatever reason – significantly altered the reality of life in Canada.