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Human Rights in Canada


Human Rights in Canada ... disability or sexual orientation Women's Rights At the time of Confederation, women in Canada did not have the same rights as men and were ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Human Rights in Canada

Human Rights in Canada
  • Chapter 3

Basic Definitions
  • Human rights rights that protect people
  • from unfair treatment by other individuals
  • and governments
  • Discrimination treating individuals
  • unfairly or differently because of
  • characteristics such as race, sex, religion, age,
    disability or sexual orientation

Women's Rights
  • At the time of Confederation, women in Canada did
    not have the same rights as men and were not
    treated equally.
  • Women could not vote and most stayed home in
    domestic roles, taking care of husband and
  • Near the end of the 19th century, attitudes began
    to change slowly as small groups of feminists
    fought for suffrage.

A few more definitions
  • Suffrage the right to vote in political
  • elections, also known as franchise
  • Feminist a person who believes in the
  • social, economic, and political equality of
  • the sexes

Women's Rights Evolve
  • World War I (19141918) thousands of
  • Canadian women worked on farms and in
  • factories while men fought in Europe by the end
  • of WWI all women had gained the right to vote in
  • federal elections.
  • Agnes Macphail (1921) the first woman to be
  • elected to the House of Commons.
  • Persons Case (1929) led by female judge Emily
  • Murphy, women finally gained legal recognition as
  • "persons" in Canada.

Womens Rights contd
  • World War II (1939-1945) more than 1
  • million women enter the workforce to help
  • with the war effort (e.g. munitions factories)
  • and nearly 50,000 women join the military
  • but not in combat roles.
  • Canadian Bill of Rights (1960) stated that it
  • illegal to discriminate based on gender
  • Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) equal
    rights for women now a constitutional right

Current Women's Issues
  • Despite the many advances in women's rights,
    women still face the following issues in our
  • Pay equity equal pay for equal work
  • Sexual harassment unwelcome actions of a sexual
    nature toward another person a significant issue
    for women in the workplace
  • Employment equity treating employees equally
    based on their ability to perform the job and
    being impartial to characteristics such as gender
    and race

Aboriginal Rights - History
  • When Europeans began settling in North America
    during the 1600s, they formed partnerships with
    First Nations communities.
  • First Nations a term used to recognize
    Aboriginal peoples as belonging to distinct
    cultural groups with sovereign rights based on
    being the first people in Canada

Aboriginal Rights - History contd
  • In 1867, European immigrants were arriving in
  • From 18671921, Aboriginal peoples were forced
    from their land and onto reserves.
  • Attempts were made to "assimilate" them into
    European-Canadian culture.
  • In 1868, the first Indian Act was passed which
    rejected Aboriginal self-government and methods
    of justice.
  • Aboriginal children were separated from their
    parents and forced to attend English residential
    schools, where many were physically, sexually,
    and emotionally abused.

Important Legal Decisions
  • 1973 The Supreme Court ruled that Aboriginal
    peoples could claim "title" over land that they
    had occupied this decision has led to many land
    claims settlements over the years.
  • 1997 The Supreme Court established a test to
    prove Aboriginal title if Aboriginal peoples
    could prove that they occupied land exclusively
    before Britain's involvement, they had the right
    to claim "title" this decision has helped
    Aboriginal peoples with demands in treaty
  • Calder v. Attorney-General of British
    Columbia, 1973
  • Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, 1997

The Constitution
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    recognizes Aboriginal rights, but is not specific
    when it comes to issues such as Aboriginal
    peoples desire for self-government.
  • An attempt to reform Canadas Constitution by the
    Mulroney government failed in 1990. Elijah
    Harper, a Cree politician in Manitoba, helped
    defeat the Meech Lake Accord by voting against it
    because it did not recognize First Nations
    peoples as "founding members" of Canada.

Aboriginal Issues Today
  • Despite gains in Aboriginal and treaty rights,
    First Nations communities still have many issues
  • Poverty a widespread problem in Aboriginal
    peoples communities along with generally poor
  • Social and health issues includes high rates of
    alcoholism, drug addiction and youth suicide
  • Outstanding land claims settling these claims
    could be very costly for federal and provincial
  • Desire for self-government a traditional right
    of Aboriginal peoples that was taken away by the
    first Indian Act

  • Since 1867, Canada has been built by wave upon
    wave of immigrants.
  • 1971 PM Trudeau proclaimed multiculturalism as
    an official policy
  • Until the 1960s, Canada's immigration laws were
    selective in who they allowed to enter the
  • Certain ethnic groups who were allowed in did not
    gain equality for many years.

A Look At The Past
  • In the early 1880s, Canada's first national
    railroad was being built (CPR).
  • Nearly 10,000 labourers came from China to work
    on the railroad and were paid half as much as
    white workers.
  • Once the CPR was finished in 1885, a head tax of
    50 was imposed on any Chinese person entering
  • The tax was meant to discourage Chinese
    immigration and in 1903 was increased to 500.
  • British Columbia also barred Asian people from
    certain professions and did not allow them to

Selective Immigration and Legislation
  • From 1885 to the post-WWII period, Canadian
    governments have used legislation and policies to
    discriminate against certain ethnic groups.
  • 1885, 1903 Chinese Head Tax
  • 1908 Laurier government regulation that
    immigrants must travel to Canada in a "direct
    continuous passage" (excluded Asia, Africa)
  • 1910 Immigration Act gave government the power
    to reject "immigrants belonging to any race
    deemed unsuitable" for Canada
  • 1914 War Measures Act allowed the Borden
    government to classify Ukrainian-Canadians as
    "enemy aliens" and they were confined.

Government Legislation contd
  • 1941 Following the Japanese attack on Pearl
    Harbour, Canada declared that Japanese-Canadians
    were also "enemy aliens" and sent to internment
    camps men were separated from their families and
    their property was auctioned off by the
  • WWII Canada refuses entry to thousands of
    Jewish refugees escaping persecution in Nazi
  • 7. 1947 Mackenzie King encourages
    immigration, but focuses on "desirable future
    citizens" (Europeans)
  • 8. 1967 Pearson's government introduces the
    first colour-blind immigration policy.

Immigrating to Canada
  • In 1976, the Trudeau government introduced a new
    Immigration Act with a points system.
  • The new system reviewed an applicant's various
    skills, personal qualities, and level of
  • As a result, Canada has become very multicultural
    over the years, particularly in cities.
  • In 2001, the Chretien government passed the
    Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Its
    objectives included
  • Curbing abuse of the immigration system
  • Increasing screening to identify suspected
  • Strengthening obligations for immigrants to have
    sponsors new criteria to attract highly skilled

Gay Men Lesbians
  • Homosexuality was a crime in Canada until it was
    removed from the Criminal Code in 1967 by Pierre
    Trudeau, who was Justice Minister in Pearson's
  • "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms
    of the nation." Trudeau
  • In 1996, the federal government added "sexual
    orientation" to the Canadian Human Rights Act to
    protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in
    federal matters.
  • In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex
    couples have the same rights as opposite-sex
    couples. M. v. H., 1999

Same-Sex Marriage
  • In 2002, many same-sex couples challenged the
    legal definition of marriage (between a man and a
    woman, excluding all others).
  • They successfully argued that they were being
    denied their equality rights based on their
    sexual orientation.
  • In 2005, the Martin government changed the
    traditional definition of marriage and introduced
    the Civil Marriage Act, which defines marriage as
    a union between "two persons".

People With Disabilities
  • The following are considered to be legal
    disabilities in Ontario
  • brain injuries, mental illness, physical
  • blindness, deafness, obesity
  • epilepsy, behavioural and learning problems
  • substance abuse, developmental disabilities
  • Historically, people with disabilities have been
    marginalized. Since the 1980s, there has been an
    emphasis in Canada to include people with
    disabilities in society so they can live with

People With Disabilities Today
  • Despite the progress that has been achieved over
    the years for people with disabilities, there are
    still many issues
  • Schools many still cannot meet the needs of
    students who have physical or developmental
    disabilities, especially in older buildings
  • Workplaces many businesses and government
    buildings still do not provide complete access to
    people with disabilities (e.g. wheelchair ramps
    are not mandatory)
  • It often takes a formal human rights complaint
    to be filed
  • before any action is taken.

Prejudice Stereotyping
  • Prejudice a preconceived opinion of a
  • person based on that person belonging to
  • a certain group
  • Stereotyping forming an opinion of one
  • person of a group and applying that
  • judgment to all members of that group
  • Although prejudice and stereotyping are not
    illegal, they often lead to acts of
    discrimination, which violate human rights laws
    and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • A person or party that claims they have been
    discriminated against is the complainant, and the
    person or party that allegedly acted in a
    discriminatory manner is the respondent.
  • There are various types of discrimination
  • Intentional treating others unfairly based on
    prejudicial factors such as race, religion, or
  • Unintentional seemingly neutral or innocent
    actions that still discriminate against a
    particular group
  • Bona fide occupational requirement a possible
    defence for employers against discrimination
    they must prove that an act of apparent
    discrimination was necessary for a job (e.g.
    hiring only female counsellors in an abused
    women's shelter)

Human Rights Cases
  • In addition to the Canadian Human Rights Act and
    the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there are
    provincial versions of human rights acts and
    rights tribunals throughout Canada.
  • How to Analyze a Human Rights Case
  • Is the matter a human rights issue?
  • Do federal or provincial human rights laws apply?
  • Is there discrimination evident?
  • Is there an attempt at providing reasonable
  • Is there a remedy under human rights law?

  • If a complainant is found to have been the victim
    of discrimination, there are a variety of
    remedies which they may receive as compensation
  • (damages, lost wages, mental anguish)
  • Letter of apology
  • Employers may have to rehire employees, or
    establish anti-discrimination programs
  • If a respondent refuses to provide the
    compensation, they may face criminal charges
    and/or fines.
  • Tribunals have legal authority to impose remedies
    (like courts).