“Neither freedom nor equality can exist without a meaningful guarantee of the other.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 12, 2023
OTTAWA, ON – Canada’s legal community and policy-makers need to stop pitting fundamental freedoms and equality rights against each other. Instead, they need to see constitutionally guaranteed freedom and quality as mutually reinforcing, according to the new Cardus report, Conflicting Rights? Balancing Equality and Fundamental Freedoms.
“Far from opposing one another…neither freedom nor equality can exist without a meaningful guarantee of the other,” writes lawyer and Runnymede Society National Director Kristopher Kinsinger, who authored the report for Cardus.
Many Canadians, including lawyers and policy-makers, are becoming more suspicious of fundamental freedoms (especially the freedoms of religion and expression) as they increasingly see conflicts with equality rights, which protect us from discrimination. Kinsinger argues this view undermines constitutional protections.
“The Charter is more than a mere assortment of disparate rights and freedoms: its guarantees, taken together, are intended to preserve Canada’s status as a ‘free and democratic society,’” he writes.
Kinsinger says the defence of equality shouldn’t come at the cost of fundamental freedoms, which are also constitutionally guaranteed.
“Equality rights must thus be reinforced by a robust commitment to the fundamental freedoms: section 15 of the Charter guarantees nothing less than an equality of citizenship, a right that can be exercised only in conjunction with the freedom to fully participate in public discourse and acts of truth-seeking,” he says.
Conflicting Rights? Balancing Equality and Fundamental Freedoms is freely available online.
Cardus – Director of Communications
Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.