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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 2764

The Supreme Court of Canada and the Charter: Democratic or Anti-Democratic?

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The Supreme Court of Canada and the Charter: Democratic or Anti-Democratic? A democracy is a way of governing a country in which the people elect representatives to form a government on behalf of the country; with such a government, the idea is that everyone in that country has social equality. Social equality is state of uniformity in quantity, measure, value, privileges, status, or rights within a given society. Canada is thought to be a democratic country because, similar to the definition, the Canadian citizens select representatives by ballot to form a government on behalf of the country. The Canadian judicial system has two key elements by which to represent the country: The Supreme Court of Canada (group of 9 appointed judges) and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada stands at the apex of the Canadian judicial system. It is the final general court of appeal, the last judicial resort for all litigants, whether individuals or governments. Its jurisdiction embraces both the civil law of the province of Quebec and the common law of the other provinces and territories. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a set of laws revised by the Supreme Court in order to ensure safety, morality and equality to all citizens. ...read more.


It is apparent that the Charter is hindering their rule of equality and being discriminatory against minority groups; this, along with Judge Abella's statement (2004) "the judiciary has a different relationship with the public...It is accountable less to the public's opinions and more to the public interest4." Hence, it is more than apparent that the Canadian judicial system lacks the characteristics of a democracy. Secondly, the fact that the members of the Supreme Court of Canada are appointed rather than elected by Canadian citizens shows that their judgement may not, in fact, be agreed upon by the country; thus, it does not demonstrate decisions being the true representation of people's views. Although some people believe the courts appoint MPs based on knowledge and previous achievement, thus giving a good face to the system, this is not representing the country efficiently. Paul Martin, Canada's Prime Minister, tried to revise the Supreme Court appointment system to make it more democratic than it previously was. Instead of appearing in front of a nominating committee, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler would take questions from a committee said to include three Liberal MPs, three opposition MPs and representatives from two bodies representing the legal profession. The panel would not vote or pass judgment on the qualifications of the nominees but would produce a report reflecting the opinions of committee members following their questioning of Cotler about the judges5. ...read more.


If minority groups were shown and expressed within the Supreme Court, the outcome of cases in which marginal opinions are faced would be much better represented and be more impartial to their individual values and beliefs. Considering the three main aspects mentioned, it is more than obvious that Canada is in no way democratic. If the Supreme Court of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedom were democratic, they would be based upon the principles of social equality, however they are not. The Supreme Court will continue to use the Charter to cut a swatch through broad societal expectations and practises and in doing so will make the general progress towards its decisions but not necessarily for each and every individual decision. The fact that the Canadian judicial system: allows the rights of a group to always supersede the rights of an individual, appoints the members of the Supreme Court and does not put emphasis on visible minorities in its' courts, forcefully proves its anti-democratic characteristics. Some mention that the Supreme Court is democratic because they follow the laws of the Charter, however, the cases mentioned above, along with many other cases which have been examined, prove that each citizen does not, in fact, have equal rights; this therefore substantiates that Canada does not possess the characteristics of having a democratic judicial system and, thus, is strongly anti-democratic. ...read more.

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