Academic journal article McGill Law Journal

Time to Regroup: Rethinking Section 15 of the Charter

Academic journal article McGill Law Journal

Time to Regroup: Rethinking Section 15 of the Charter

Article excerpt


I. L.'Heureux-Dube's Purposive "Human Dignity" Approach
   in Egan
   A. Integration of the "Human Dignity: Focus in Law
   B. Distinguishing Law's "Human Dignity" Step from a Group-Based
      "Dignity Analysis"
II. Limitations of the Law Formulation
   A. The Fracture in Lavoie
   B. Divisions in Gosselin
   C. Trociuk: The Failure of Grounds
      1. Critique of the Supreme Court Ruling
      2. reflections on the Appellate Judgments
III. Remedial Opportunity in Falkiner


In this article, the author advocates a group-based approach to analysis under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such an approach was fast presented by L'Heureux-Dube J. in Egan v. Canada. There, L'Heureux-Dube J. argued that the emphasis on enumerated and analogous grounds in equality jurisprudence detracts from a more "effects" or "impact"-based assessment of discrimination.

L'Heureux-Dube J. relinquished her position in the later Supreme Court of Canada decision of Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), where the unanimous Court retained the requirement that differential treatment be based on one of the enumerated or analogous grounds in section 15. The Law decision, which at the time represented a compromise to different approaches to section 15, has badly fractured in recent equality decisions (Lavoie v. Canada and Gosselin v. Quebec (A.G.)).

The author argues that reconsideration of L'Heureux-Dube J.'s group-based focus in Egan will address some of the weaknesses in the Law framework that have lead to its demise. Through an examination of both the Supreme Court's decision in Trociuk v. British Columbia (A.G.) and the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision in Falkiner v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services) (which is slated to be heard by the Supreme Court in 2004), the author supports L'Hettreux-Dube J.'s Egan framework as a more meaningful way to consider equality claims. In particular, the author argues that such a group-based approach allows for a more sophisticated understanding of gender equality challenges and offers the courts an easier methodology for assessing claims of complex discrimination.

Dans cet article, l'auteur plaide en faveur d'une approche fondee sur les groupes darts l'analyse sans l'article 15 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertes. Une telle approche avait d'abord ete presentee par la juge L'Heureux-Dube darts Egan c. Canada. Darts cette decision, la juge L'Heureux-Dube avait soutenu que l'emphaso sur les motifs enumeres et analogues que l'on retrouve dens la jurisprudence en matiere de droit a l'egalite s'eloignait d'une evahiation de la discrimintabon fondee sur ses effets ou ses impacts.

La juge L'Heuseux-Dube a abandonne cette position darts la decision subsequente de la Cous supreme du Canada de Law c. Canada (Minisire de l'emploi et l'immigration), dens laquelle la Cour a unammement retenu l'exigance salon laquelle un traitement differencie doit etre base sur Fun des motifs enumeres ou analogues de l'article 15. L'arret Law, qui represantait a l'epoque un compromis entre differentes approches relatives a l'article 15, a ete lourdement fracture dans certaines decisious recentes en matiere de droit a l'egalite (Lavoie c. Canada et Gosselin c. Quebec (P.G.)).

L'auteur soutient qu'une reconsideration de l'approche fundee sur les groupos telle que developpee par L'Heureux-Dube dens Egan pourrait permettre d'adresser certaines faiblesses du cadre d'analyse utilise dans l'arret Law ayant mene a son abandon. Par un examen de la decision de la Cour supreme dans Trociuk c. British Columbia (P.G.) et de celle de la Cour d'appel de l'Ontario darts Falkiner v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services) (laquelle devrait etre entendue par la Cour supreme en 2004), l'auteur considere que le cadre d'analyse de L'Heureux-Dube darts Egan est une maniere plus appropriee de considerer les revendications en matiere de droit a l'egalite. …

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