Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker speaking in the House of Commons (Photo: Louis Jaques, Public Domain).

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the Diefenbaker-era Canadian Bill of Rights, especially on social media.

While it doesn’t seem to have hit mainstream commentary in a big way yet, social media is full of references, usually by commenters in the darker corners of the right-wing Internet, about the Canadian Bill of Rights, the federal statute enacted in 1960 when John Diefenbaker was Canada’s Progressive Conservative prime minister.

Mr. Diefenbaker and an unidentified delegate to the Progressive Conservative General Meeting in 1961 with a copy of the Canadian Bill of Rights (Photo: The Canadian Press, University of Saskatchewan Archives).

With a Conservative Party of Canada leadership contest under way, and a similar United Conservative Party race in Alberta possibly coming soon, this kind of commentary bound to increase. 

Creation of a bill of rights was long a goal for Mr. Diefenbaker – he had called a written charter “the only way to stop the march on the part of the government towards arbitrary power.” He is said to have started drafting a bill in 1936, still a would-be politician in Saskatchewan who couldn’t seem to get elected. 

That started to change in 1940 when Mr. Diefenbaker was elected to the House of Commons. By 1957 he was prime minister, and in a position to turn his dream into reality – sort of. 

The bill was introduced by his government on Dominion Day 1960 and was swiftly passed and enacted.

It never lived up to Mr. Diefenbaker’s dreams, though. It was not constitutionally entrenched. It was in conflict with other acts. When this was pointed out in legal arguments, judges mostly shrugged their shoulders and said that was Parliament’s problem. It was an ordinary law that could be amended with a simple majority. It applied only to federal statutes. 

Until recently, the Canadian Bill of Rights has been all but forgotten. After all, it was for all intents and purposes subsumed into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1982 constitutional reform package that patriated, as we all used to say, Canada’s Constitution from the United Kingdom. 

Since the Charter is entrenched in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, all other laws must be consistent with it, “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

A convoy protester holds a copy of the Canadian Bill of Rights in Ottawa last month (Photo: Screenshot of YouTube video).

Yet during the occupation of Ottawa by semi-truck-wielding right-wing extremists, especially after the implementation of the Emergencies Act, news clips often showed “Freedom Convoy” members handing out copies of the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So what’s with that, anyway? 

I would suggest a number of things are going on. 

For starters – and this is the theme of many of the wild claims about the Canadian Bill of Rights made on social media – it has become a hobbyhorse of “organized pseudolegal commercial argument litigants” who assign to it magical powers that the Charter lacks. 

Naturally, this is nonsense, but as we have seen with past #Kudatah theorizing in Alberta and among the Freedom Convoyers, it is nonsense with a powerful appeal that enables its advocates to imagine they can act illegally if only they chant the right incantations before a court. 

That this never works seems not to dissuade them.

Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister who gets the lion’s share of the credit for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in 1975 (Photo: Rob Mieremet, National Archive of the Netherlands).

Still, this has given rise to some recent online commentary that, deprived of context, seems off the wall to the point it’s completely batty. 


According to another: “The charter is paving the way to communism…Canadian Bill of Rights for the win!”

Says yet another: “ALL Canadians need to read the Canadian Bill of Rights. This is what we all should follow.”

One doesn’t have to dig very hard to encounter pseudolegal chatter about the Canadian Bill of Rights on the Internet in all its mind-numbing illogic.

Needless to say, this kind of nonsense would have shocked and appalled Mr. Diefenbaker, a lawyer and, by most accounts, a very good one. 

In addition, since 1982 many Canadian Conservatives have been deeply ambivalent about the Charter. Distrust of the Charter and a desire to somehow weaken it or replace it with a document more compatible with conservative ideological goals has been a powerful stream in the Canadian Conservative movement, as it nowadays likes to style itself.

And at least one of the differences between the Charter and the Bill – the explicit enshrinement of property rights, a boon to the propertied classes as we have seen in the constitutional Republic to our south – is bound to appeal to mainstream conservatives and embolden their efforts to make the Charter more of a tool for the enforcement of neoliberal capitalism. 

Plus, of course, a Trudeau gets the lion’s share of the credit for the Charter, which is unquestionably popular with Canadians, another quality that drives many Conservative leaders around the bend – you all know who I have in mind. 

For all these reasons – with the Conservative Party of Canada, the People’s Party of Canada, the Maverick Party, and numerous far-right iterations of this kind of thinking in Alberta all clamouring for a way to demonstrate their distinctiveness and appeal to voters, the unlikely revival of John Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights is not going to go away any time soon. 

*I’m not going to provide links to these tweets. They and their ilk are easy enough to find anyway. But I’d hate to inspire anyone to actually try arguing with these nuts, which only encourages them. 

Join the Conversation


    1. I recently read a piece that describes the attack by masked axe weilding assailants on a constructive site in BC as “protest,” and pointed out that that actually is ecoterrorism (albeit a less violent and more sensible form than I expected to see) and should not be protected by the right to protest. What would happen if their actions and tactics became normal? I think it would be very bad for us all.

      What about the mob in Ottawa? What if their tactics became legitimate, protected forms of protest? Would you like it if people who you saw as your enemies were allowed to take your home over and hold you hostage?

      One of the things adults ask themselves before taking action as citizens is, “what would happen if everyone did this? ” if the answer is, “society would be a worse place,” then that action should not be taken.

    2. No kidding. But I think when the far right talks about protest, they really mean like the convoy, which wasn’t truckers and wasn’t a protest. It was the far right manipulating misguided people to occupy Ottawa and Coutts with the goal of ousting a democratically elected government. I had wondered where the OPCA (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Litigants) people went and here they are.

      If you’d like to know more about OPCA, here’s a decision with Alberta Queen’s Bench Justice Rooke, Meads v Meads. I’m always astonished at his language, but the OPCA people are trying.


    3. BRET LARSON: Putting people’s lives at risk, or breaking the law, isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t on The Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms.

    4. Far-right talking points aren’t related to Charter Rights, so yeah, it is kinda humorous.

      —uh, unless you’re trying to make a funny like, three rights don’t make a wrong, or something. That’s totally different.

    5. Do you and your little friends want to protest I Parliament Hill;? Air your perpetual grievances and debase the flag?

      Be my guest.

      But leave the heavy machinery back on the lot. You can stand around in the cold and rain like everybody else.

      1. “Debase the flag” – well said. A (Christian) friend of mine likes to joke that “Christian rock doesn’t make Christianity cool, it makes rock suck.” Similarly, draping a bunch of fact-averse entitled would-be insurrectionists in flags while they take periodic breaks from committing illegal actions to take selfies with on-duty Police officers or lounge in their hot tubs does not make them good, it makes the flag suck.

  1. I suspect that much of this sudden interest over the Canadian Bill of Rights has a lot to do with so many of the FREEDUMB protesters getting that Bill of Right confused with the Bill of Rights found in the US Constitution.

    Since these geniuses seem to believe that that really do have a First Amendment right to … well they’re not sure, but they know it exists. I have noted that the Convoy is often loaded with those who come from all kinds of beliefs over how Canada should really be governed. I heard of instances where the Magna Carta was held up a perfect constitution for Canada to follow, which it isn’t. But who’s going to tell this gang of idiots they screwed up? And I even found one person who held up the UN Charter of Human Rights as an ideal templet to follow. Well, it’s an ideal document for a better world, but it reads like a plan for social-democracy, and everyone knows that the Convoy is loaded with anti-communists who hate socialism.

    But the one thing that none of these FREEDUMB folks got about the Canadian Bill of Rights is that it doesn’t, by its nature or spirit, make any claim to supersede any existing statute in Canadian law. In other words, it’s a fine document to lay out on the bottom of a bird cage, because that’s all it’s good for.

    John Diefenbaker was a pompous twit from another era, who was completely out of his element when he had his mercifully short tenure as PM. He’s a dead CON. Good.

  2. Yes, this sort of thing seems to be another sign of the kookiness which is somewhat fashionable again in these times.

    I suppose it is not surprising that people who are dismissive of science and generally regarded facts, embrace conspiracy theories and a law from the 1960’s. A law that never really was that powerful and which has been subsumed by the Charter of Rights. However, nostalgia and its pedigree also appeals to some Conservatives who are suspicious of the Liberal association with the later Charter of Rights. Yeah, maybe they built some things more durable in the good old days, but it doesn’t mean they were always better.

    Its not surprising that those who live in an upside down world of “alternate facts”, would also claim this bill has mythical powers. I should like to sell them some lucky charms and profit handsomly from that. So to, this sort of thing is an unhealthy combination of the gullible and ignorant and the hucksters that try to profit from them financially and/or politically. This is just the latest version along the lines of the freeman of the land bs from years ago.

    Technology also gives the fringe kooks a chance to find others who think the same and they then reinforce what they believe. If the rest of us ignore them, they take being unchallenged as further proof they are right. If we stumble upon them and challenge them, they call us brainwashed, get angry and go off into a mental quagmire of mumbo jumbo that makes no sense. So, I’m not sure there is any easy way to deal with them. Historically they tend to become more prominent in times of social disruption, like these.

    In the end, I think this tends to diminish when the kooks realize what they are peddling isn’t catching on or working. So they go on to the next conspiracy theory or whatever.

  3. Australia, which I’d argue is more Conservative than Canada politically and has never really allowed immigration of non-whites to any degree, never did get around to awarding its citizens a Bill or Charter of Rights. It shows. Nobody with dual citizenship there can be an MP — so Andy Scheer, well known Intellectual And Gorf about Town, could not have collected pay for decades there while doing nothing that anyone can remember but existing, and oh yeah, being an MP and a secret American. He epitomizes another Conservative theme I’ve noticed — complain about “government” but make sure you feed at the public trough as a career if you can possibly do it instead of real work. Scheer, harper and kenney subscribe to this mantra, and lookout! here’s Skippy Poilievre steaming up the backstretch trying to catch up with his heroes. So overall, Dief was ahead of his time on his Bill of Rights. We had a fair number of framed copies of that one on various walls of our high school in the early 1960s. Our Grade 12 history teacher, a well-known Liberal, made sure we understood its limitations as DJC here points out.

    The current crop of ranting woolly heads on the right and far right are of course practising the executive summary of the one-page Coles Notes further abridged version of reality, because an educational experience of barely getting out of high school, if that, fundamentally prepares one to be a constitutional expert. Good old Eugene Forsey would not have approved of rank amateurs wandering around spouting nonsense on constitutional matters, and although a CCFer, Dief gave him a big job. Forsey was an actual constitutional expert and respected by all.

    You have to ask yourself whether, in this day and age, when we are whipped and cajoled to belong to a team and drink only from its echo chamber as if real life were some piddling hockey pre-game pep rally, it’s worthwhile pursuing academic qualifications and real knowledge. Why bother training as a doctor if the cereal box stacker at the supermarket knows more about diseases than you ever will, and their viewing of a YouTube plumbing video allows them to become a specialist brain surgeon? Or why become a constitutional lawyer if some deep thinker of an unvaxxed truck driver with piles can inform you that you got it all wrong? Or train as an engineer when anyone with a backhoe can design/build a four lane highway bridge across a gorge? I mean, as we all know, the right wing is expert on all matters by the simple process of osmosis. Er, what? Exactly!

    Question asked of Google: Do narcissists write in all caps?
    A narcissist is someone who has developed a personality disorder. Most normal plain vanilla neurotics know that ALL CAPS MEAN SCREAMING. It is rude.

  5. I wonder why they get to bandy about the term “communism” so freely, as in any kind of help for the less fortunate is communism. AAISH and Old Age Security? Communism! Yet nobody gets to bandy about the term “fascism”, at least not in mainstream media. And yet look at what one recent group of those types wanted to do: overthrow elected federal and provincial governments, and replace them with what? Unelected leaders, chosen by coup? They’re still traipsing around the Beltline in Calgary every weekend, and the citizens pick up the tab for policing this nonsense. It’s a good thing that police are around, because they’ve starting roughing up counter-protestors, who are fed up with the weekly assault on their ears.

    1. “Oh no, my house is on fire! Better call the socially owned and operated fire department! Oh no, I’ve been in a car accident! I’d better go to the socially owned and operated hospital! Oh no, I’ve been a victim of crime, better call the socially owned and operated police department! Oh no, my city doesn’t have essential services such as sewage, running water, and roads, better go to city hall! Anyways, as I was saying, the free market is the best way to organize society because it is more efficient, produces better outcomes, allows the most individual liberty, and keeps government small and unobtrusive. Okay, if you’ll excuse me I have to go work my second job so that I can afford child care.”

      95% of the time someone uses the word “Communist” I’m left shaking my head in bewilderment. It’s like someone who hates and fears snakes, and thinks that a ‘snake’ is a ‘small, flying creature that is part hummingbird, part donkey, part unicorn that plays the cello and speaks entirely in limericks.’

      I do understand how people have more trouble defining “Fascism” – to the best of my knowledge there is no ironclad test or definition, it’s more about how strongly an organization embraces a dozen or so traits. Also, the way we interpret “freedom of expression” gives a lot of room for Fascists to use the media ecosystem (by appearing on talk shows and the like), educational system (which withholds from non-specialists the historical context and political and philosophical background knowledge necessary to identify Fascism and know why it is so bad) and police violence (feel free to research which side the cops have taken when there have been two groups of protesters and one of the groups were fascists or white supremacists) to help them spread their ideology. By contrast, these ‘forms of leverage’ are withheld from the Canadian Left (ie Social Democrats who accept capitalism but want to use democracy to vote in specific socialist policies), never mind actual Leftists (those calling for the end of capitalism).

  6. Thank you for this David. Excellent comments.

    There was a good article on “The Quasi-Revival of the Canadian Bill of Rights and Its Implications for Administrative Law” in the Osgood Hall law journal in 2004.

    By the way, you can’t kid me into believing that the picture of Dief with young Pierre Polievre came from the University of Saskatchewan Archives. Photoshop much?

  7. Well, it looks like a two-pronged strategy from the conservative right wing: looney and still-possibly-somewhat-looney. Garnett Genuis recently tabled a private members bill to amend the Human Rights Act. You can see the bill here:

    The amendment seeks to add discrimination based on political belief or activities to the list of activities that are protected under the current bill. The list of current activities that are protected from discrimination include gender, marital status, religion, age, sex, and others.

    Freedom of speech and _peaceful assembly_ are already guaranteed (within reasonable limits) are already guaranteed by the Charter. Furthermore, some provinces have human rights legislation that prevents discrimination based on political belief or activity. So I am not sure what this amendment adds if anything. It seems a superfluous and odd addition. I am not a lawyer, however.

    A primary motivation for the bill appears to be the belief among some that the justice minister, in determining whose banks accounts should be frozen, discriminated against the Freedumb convoy members based on their political activities and beliefs. Well, that is one way of looking at it I suppose. It could also be that, under the Emergencies Act, the occupation was deemed illegal, and the protestors were given fair warning that they were breaking the law and the subsequent penalties that could ensue from this. That is, political beliefs had nothing to do with the freezing of bank accounts: the Act permitted the freezing of bank accounts of people who were not only breaking the law but warned that they were breaking the law and could have their accounts frozen. Briane from Chilliwack has no excuse.

    Now, it may be the case that the folks who participated in the Clownvoy are seeing some workplace repercussions. But, again, employment law and Collective Agreements would govern the conditions under which an employer can dismiss someone with or without cause. So, I am not sure about the point of the inclusion to the Bill.

    According to Genuis, “Canadians must be free to express and act on their political beliefs, within the law and with the protection of the law. They should not face intimidation or discrimination while doing so, by either governments or private employers.”

    According to the CPC website, “The Bill would allow exceptions for bona fide occupations regarding occupations where political partisanship or political neutrality are reasonable requirements for employment.” So, in some cases, you can discriminate based on political beliefs and activities.

    My suspicion is that part of the intent of the amendment is to prevent others from calling out the Freedumb convey protesters as rubes or fools and hurting their feelings.

    I don’t see this amendment as having much of a chance. So, why bother? A possible reason is that the Bill is just another attempt to keep the current events from changing the channel away from what the CPC sees as a winning issue to enhance their fundraising and stoke further division. World events are drowning out the fallout from the Freedumb convoy, and many Canadians are growing increasing upset with these fools whining about their “freedoms” being trampled on by vaccine mandates when juxtaposed against the real freedoms that are being drastically removed from both Ukrainians and ordinary Russian citizens (who, it would appear are headed toward living in a full-on Fascist state).

  8. First question that comes to mind. Who, may I ask, told the con-voy types about this Bill? I’m pretty sure your ordinary F150 owner never heard of such a thing!

  9. Interesting that Brian Peckford, former premier of Newfoundland and the last living signatory of the 1982 Charter of Rights, is suing the federal government over its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for air travel as unconstitutional and infringes on all Canadians’ charter rights.

    I suppose all this talk about property rights also includes one’s own flesh and bones and the right to reject vaccines and other medical interventions.

    1. I think property rights refers to your right to own property – when you can and can’t own land, objects, money, stocks, ideas, etc.

      I think we could have a useful conversation about whether there is a need for a Medical Charter of Rights. Just brainstorming:
      -the right to choose which vaccinations you get and which you don’t
      -the right to informed consent regarding medicine in general (doctors are responsible for this, but only doctors, and they are responsible to their organization, not the government)
      -the right to choose which recreational drugs you ingest
      -the right to choose whether to undergo gender-altering surgeries
      -the right to access birth control
      -the right to know what is in your food and water
      -the right to have access to nourishing food and clean water
      -the right to dental and eye care
      -the right to access to mental health services

      Looking at this list I see a few places where the rights of the individual could foreseeably cause harm to other individuals and to society at large, but I can imagine some things we could do to mitigate these harms. Right now we recognize that the decision to smoke cigarettes carries health consequences, and we force all smokers to bear a share of that from the moment they start. We could do something similar with vaccines, maybe have something on your taxes where you pay X tax per vaccine or something, so that every time there is an outbreak of something preventable, ranging from measles to mumps to covid, we have enough medical staff and equipment on hand to provide health care for them without disrupting our ability to provide health care for everyone. We could do something very similar with other recreational drugs – the greater the burden that use of this drug causes the health care system, the more of a tax is put on it, not to generate profit or to punish the individuals being taxed but to be able to afford to heal harms.

      I guess it’s also worth considering that the more rights we create, the bigger of a government we are going to need. After all, the government is acting as the guarantor of our rights.

      Any thoughts?

    2. Peckford is not the last living signatory; Chretien and the Queen both still live.

      People do have the right to refuse vaccines, but they have to accept consequences for making that choice. Public health is more important than someone’s selfish choice to endanger others needlessly.

  10. Apart from all the usual nonsense that political parties put out, encourage, or claim there is one thing that is very difficult for them to hide, to downplay, or to dismiss.

    That is disunity. What ever the political party, I simply will not even consider voting for any party that is divided. How can I expect them to govern if they cannot even get their own respective house in order.

    I felt this way about the Scheer and about the O’Toole led Conservatives. I feel this way in spades over Kenney’s UCP.

    The big question, and following months entertainment, will be can the UCP get it together and move forward. Ditto for the federal Conservative Party. I would not put even money on either bet.

  11. Good article. It’s getting harder every day to have useful, non-partisan conversations. Seems politics in Canada is getting more like question period every day. Or more like the tire fire down south – fools and grifters shrieking bad-faith nonsense for headlines because they genuinely don’t believe they will face any consequences for their actions.

    I’ve listened to this several times recently. Not a magic cure-all, but if you have 8 minutes to kill and want to get better at engaging with people who see the world differently than you, it’s a good watch.

  12. The MLAs from the Lougheed era certainly had it right. Don’t ever trust a Reformer I was taught. These stupid conservative parties across Canada were damn fools for letting them join their parties and get control of them. These phoney conservatives have no respect for the average citizens they only care about themselves and their rich friends. These fools will put a lot of seniors in financial ruin, but a lot don’t appear to be smart enough to understand it.

    Retired doctors have been telling us for years that their plans for a lot more privatization of health care is their way of taking our public health care away from the people and giving their rich friends first choice, leaving the rest of us in a medical disaster on long waiting lists.You would have to be a damn fool to believe their lies that patients won’t be held responsible for paying for this private for profit system.

    What happens if they decide to eliminate the Alberta Blue Cross and replace it with a private for profit insurance system?it’s a good question and some of us wouldn’t put it past them, what do you think?

  13. These recent protesters simply cannot justify breaking the law, by obstructing roads, and traffic, and also impeding emergency response vehicles from going to the people they need to help.

  14. The Bill of Rights and property rights are badges which identify whomever is so ignorant of the law that one may agree with chim under the pretext they are both right and correct. It sorta sounds legaleasy so it should be, by rights wrongly conceived, free to stand as an equal with any other interpretation of the law —kinda like creationism has a right to be taught in school science class as an alternative, but somehow equally true explanation for the cosmos. Boy, they sure got “think tank” wrong!

    In such a fantasy world, law itself is effectively neutralized so that, for example, protesters think they have a right to suspend a duly elected government or, in the US, insist tRump won the election no matter how many courts of law throw the notion out for lack of any evidence at all. There really is no point in arguing with such ignorance. It’s fair enough anyone may hold these views by right; we still get to vote on them, also by right. Is there something in conflict with the Bill of Rights, here? No, how can there be? It’s statute: instead of going to all the trouble of rationalizing or disguising intentional misinterpretation, they figure they can just get somebody like Mike Pence to, you know, fix it. Like, democracy, dude…

    I had to dust off my Introduction to Property Law, an American law school textbook which covers a lot of Canadian law as well, both being derived from English Common Law—like India, Bermuda and other Commonwealth republics which were once British colonies. American property is held from the state, in Canada it’s held from the Crown—it’s like Anglicans are called Episcopalians in the USA. There is no absolute right to property in Common Law jurisdictions—not here, not in the USA. Let’s not trouble with the American Constitution: I hear Canadian judges find it inadmissible in court, so why bother?

    William I, King of England and Duke of Normandy eliminated, by right of conquest, Anglo-Saxon allods. This tenure, or holding of land, was originally a matter of might. It depended a lot on easily upset, local alliances. The holder of his allod was virtually sovereign in all its affairs and was not obliged to pay anybody anything to keep it —that is, for as long as it could be held by arms or armistices. A chronological map of England, 451 to 1066, illustrates the sketchy nature of such holdings and arrangements. At one point the proto-nation was a heptarchy, but there were many less significant subdivisions within any given “kingdom” because of the Germanic custom of dividing estates among sons. Fraternal feuds could upset the whole applecart, nonetheless. England’s kinglets kept the territory in such tumult, a series of Norse invaders —Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and, eventually, Normans—were easily able to invade under cover of the darkness of the age.

    When William proclaimed his kingdom in October, 1066, on “the day King Harold is both alive and dead,” there were about 7,000 tenures in England, many of them allods. He replaced the Anglo-Saxon system by proclaiming all land thenceforth be held from the Crown alone. The realm was then divided into about 200 fifes with which he rewarded his generals and family on condition that they pledge loyalty to the King and provide him, at their own cost, knights, horses, equipment and personnel in military service—the so-called “feudal system” . These great fifes where then subinfeuded to lesser vassals on the same conditions. Normans were North Germanic people, also dividing estates among male heirs, but the Crown’s uncontested sovereignty over all land tempered any rash attempts to disrupt the flow of military capacity, eventually money, to the top. Land disputes were no longer a private affair. William’s Domesday Book is impressive, but the acing of totally private property is his greater legacy. It brought a modicum of peace to a blood-soaked land.

    But life always gets in the way and, before long, more rules were needed to regulate tenure obligations, especially marriages and inheritances. As any lawyer will vouch, humans can get themselves into the most complicated situations—divorces, step-children, contested wills, reversions to the Crown, dispensations for the church—an endless supply of scrapes and disputes which keep finding new expressions to this very day. What started out as rules for the smooth administration of land-holding soon encompassed everything from “property rights” (with respect military obligations or, eventually, money payment in lieu) to the quality of local beer and run-of-the-mill torts. The Crown soon saw the need for King’s Courts presided over by a circuit judges— rather than trust manor courts too familiar with plaintiffs and officials. The gathering legal precedences became English Common Law. It’s fair to say our law came from property law. But it’s a far thing to say property rights should therefore be lawful.

    The Common Law, begun in 1066, has been in effect continuously ever since—even in former colonies which became republics like the USA. Yet some yahoos think that in Texas (it always seems to be Texas), one may shoot and kill a trespasser as a matter of property rights. One may not. But such sentiments are not unknown in rural Alberta (Texas North!—it’s always seems to be Texas North!)

    King George III’s Royal Proclamation of 1763 sought to cement the British sovereign claim in its newly conquered North American territories by requiring governments and agents of the Crown to treat with indigenous nations in order to extinguish any competing claims against the Crown’s. Centuries of Common Law precedent was based on the model of his predecessor, William I: it literally could not be set aside; George wasn’t really being altruistic or progressive towards indigenous “Indians”. The RP provoked a rebellion in the 13 Colonies —not for what it was, but because the rebels wanted to be provoked. Breaches of duty and trust notwithstanding, the concept of extinguishing indigenous sovereign claims by way of treaty remained policy in the USA after the Rebellion as, naturally, it did in British North America. Even here, white governments breached their duties of care and trust with respect fulfilling the RP, even when it was incorporated in whole into the BNA Act 1867, and again into the Constitution Act 1982. The RP was found still fully in effect by the “Delgamuukw” SCoC decision 1997. Along with the subsequent “Tsilhqot’in” SCoC decision in 2014, it means the Crown owes most First Nations in BC, for example, a treaty and, interim, the Crown and any FN without treaty have an equal claim of sovereignty—or, one might say, they share sovereignty over that FN’s traditional territory. This heavily affects resource development on “unceded” indigenous territory, “Tsihlqot’in” having created the concept of Aboriginal Title to help protect Aborigianl rights in the Constitution from being eroded interim to treaties being settled. FNs in much of BC and large parts of Quebec still have no treaties. Furthermore, many settled treaties were made in bad faith on the Crown’s part, and many treaty FNs are taking legal steps to be compensated for the injustices suffered, the effect on land tenure being as yet unknown. On this count alone, property rights is a dead letter—but, of course, there are plenty of other insurmountable obstacles. There are none so blind as will not see them.

    Large areas of the country have not yet fulfilled the obligations of the Constitution with respect Aboriginal treaties, let alone even begun to think about amending the Constitution to enshrine property rights. Tell that to property rights wonks and and quite often bigotry shows through thin, white skin.

    It remains that the law never intended individuals to have property rights.

    Speaking of Constitutional Amendments, I guess property-rights crusaders never heard that it’s nigh impossible to get the requisite number of provinces and majority of Canadians to ratify any change to the Constitution or the Charter or the RP 1763. But there’s absolutely nothing stopping citizens from organizing the democratic steps to get an amendment, nothing stopping a political candidate from campaigning for one. IMHO, it’s probably easier to separate from the federation than to amend the Constitution. Doesn’t make me against the Bill of Rights, though.

    It would be beyond unjust to create a property right —imagining for a moment it were possible—but to continue to ignore rights which already exist for Aboriginals with respect land. Moreover, there are doubtless about ten gazillion conflicts between the unreal misconception of a law a minority of citizens want (and incorrectly think they can have) and the real conception of SCoC decisions, the Common Law, our Constitution, and basic fairness and justice. But I suppose in some minds those are just little things—says so in the Bill of Rights, right?

    Well, yes, of course! What else would they think?

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