In the two decades since Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect, the right to equality has been one of the most hotly contested Charter rights, being disputed in over 350 reported court cases across Canada. It is a right that in very short order has become deeply engrained in Canadian legal, political, and social discourse. It has become a bedrock value, fundamentally reflecting and shaping how Canadians view themselves and their society.
Making Equality Rights Real critically assesses the state of equality jurisprudence from many angles. Collectively, these 13 essays attempt to advance substantive equality as section 15 of the Charter moves into its second generation. Each of the papers in this collection aims to deepen our understandings of the dynamics of inequality and oppression and so produce a richer more nuanced legal framework for eradicating discrimination and promoting substantive equality. With only two decades’ experience with Charter equality litigation, the project to secure substantive equality remains a work in progress.
About the authors
Fay Faraday is a social justice lawyer in Toronto, representing community groups and coalitions, unions, and individuals. With a practice focusing on constitutional and appellate litigation, labour, human rights, and administrative/public law, she has extensive experience with Charter litigation at all levels of court, including numerous cases before the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal. In her legal practice, Fay has addressed a wide range of social justice issues relating to migrant workers and workers in precarious employment, women’s equality, race discrimination, gender and work, rights of persons with disabilities, employment equity, poverty, income security, international human rights norms, and homelessness and the right to adequate housing. Fay has also served as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School teaching courses in legal ethics and ethical lawyering, and has published extensively on constitutional law and human rights.
Margaret Denike is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Program in Gender Equality and Social Justice at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. In 2005–2006, she was on sabbatical leave conducting research on equality jurisprudence and international human rights law as an LLM candidate at Queens University. She is a member and former co-chair of the National Legal Committee of LEAF.
M. Kate Stephenson is a lawyer at the law firm WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto and was called to the Bar in 1996. She has a litigation practice that focuses on human rights, constitutional, and administrative law. She has been counsel in several equality cases, often involving low income people and people on social assistance, often on a pro bono basis. In addition, she was seconded for two years (2002–2004) to the Clinic Resource Office of Legal Aid Ontario, where she was the clinic barrister, doing court litigation for clinics all across the province of Ontario. She was a member of the National Legal Committee of LEAF from 1999 to 2004, and she chaired that committee for two years.
As a law student, Ms. Stephenson was the director of the Centre for Spanish Speaking People's Student Legal Clinic, and presently, she is a board member of the Income Security Advocacy Centre in Toronto. In 2004 she received the first ever Advocates' Society Arleen Goss Young Advocates' Award; this award was created to acknowledge a lawyer who has been called to the bar for less than 10 years and who has demonstrated "innovative and passionate advocacy, contribution to social justice, and commitment to the community."
Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé served on the Supreme Court of Canada for fifteen years, from 1987 to 2002. During that time, she participated in over six hundred Charter of Rights and Freedoms decisions.