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Human Rights Law in Canada

Worldwide Canada is considered to be one of the leading countries that support the global human rights movement. The history of Human Rights Law in Canada begins in the advent of the Canadian Bill of Rights, before that the human rights issues were usually regulated with single court cases and the verdicts of such cases were used to regulate similar situations. In 1938 by the decision of Reference re Alberta Statutes, the Supreme Court of Canada first recognized an implied bill of rights. The case revolved around an Albertan law that prohibited the press from criticizing the government. Another major step in the Human Rights Law was done in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed and from that moment the Canadian Government attempted to make universal human rights a part of Canadian law. While even before that the Government has done lot of thing to solve various racial discrimination problems, with the signing of the Declaration the country turned to equality and problems of homosexual people. Canada by the way was the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with an amendment of the Civil Marriage Act. Despite all these achievements there are still some problems left today. Some Canadian provinces still have religiously segregated schools, there is a certain lack of anti-discrimination laws to protect the disabled and the treatment of Canada’s First Nations people or Aboriginal Canadians attract criticism form the United Nations and other countries. But still the main areas of the Human Rights like the freedom of speech or the workers rights are heavily protected by the appropriate parts of the Canadian Law.

 

Today there are four key mechanisms in Canada to protect human rights: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and provincial human rights laws and legislation. The cornerstone of human rights in Canada is the Canadian Human Rights Act. This Act was passed by the Canadian Government in 1977 and the goal of extending the law with this act was to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on various grounds such as gender, disability, or religion. The Canadian Human Rights Act applies throughout Canada, but only to federally regulated activities. Each province has its own anti-discrimination law that applies to activities that are not federally regulated. The Act triggered the creation of a Canadian Human Rights Commission that investigates claims of discrimination and also the creation of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to judge the cases. Another practice that is used in discrimination cases is the “Meiorin test”, it occurs if a complainant can show a valid case of discrimination and the defendant can rebut it by showing that their practice was for a justified reason. Also every case of discrimination in Canada undergoes several stages of investigation and remediation and only if the parties are not satisfied with the result the case will go to Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

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