In Equality Deferred, Dominique Clément traces the history of sex discrimination in Canadian law and the origins of human rights legislation. Focusing on British Columbia – the first jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex – he documents a variety of absurd, almost unbelievable, acts of discrimination. Drawing on previously undisclosed human rights commission records, Clément explores the rise and fall of what was once the country’s most progressive human rights legal regime and reveals how political divisions and social movements shaped the human rights state. This book is not only a testament to the revolutionary impact of human rights on Canadian law but also a reminder that it takes more than laws to effect transformative social change.
Dominique Clément is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta.
Dominique Clément’s book is timely. The purpose and value of human rights are being challenged in the press and even in parliament. If we are to avoid an extended era of human rights retrenchment, it is important to learn what has been accomplished and how human rights codes and commissions have affected our lives.
Equality Deferred is engaging and well researched ... Throughout, Clément challenges readers to recognize the victories of the human rights state while at the same time acknowledging its inability to address systemic discrimination ... [This] is an important contribution to the history of human rights; but, just as significantly, it reminds us of the contemporary opportunities and limits of a human rights state in achieving gender justice.
Dominique Clément has written a balanced account of the importance of human rights codes in promoting ideals of fairness and tolerance in Canada, and the simultaneous failure of human rights litigation (and education) to dismantle systemic discrimination. This book will be essential reading not only for human rights scholars but also for all those interested in equity and the promotion of social justice.