Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada's Rights Revolution: Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-1982

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada's Rights Revolution: Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-1982

Article excerpt

Politics & Social Sciences Dominique Clément, Canada's Rights Revolution: Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-1982 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008), 296pp. Cased. $85. ISBN 978-0-7748-1479-9. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-1480-5.

Like other western democracies, the history of post-Second World War Canada has been written as the ever-expanding growth of individual and human rights. Much of the history of Canada's 'rights revolution' has approached the subject via top-down analyses that focus on the high politics of the Supreme Court. Dominique Clément's new book, Canada's Rights Revolution, approaches the story from the opposite perspective, examining how rights activists created a social movement to direct and promote the growth of a 'human rights state', which finally emerged with the passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

Clément's study of Canadian human rights activism is bracketed in time by two major events in Canadian history: the Gouzenko Affair of 1945 and the October Crisis of 1970. Public reaction to the suspension of civil liberties during both events sparked the rise of new human rights associations whose memberships and activities ebbed and flowed depending on the social and political climate. However, he notes that the general social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s tended to reinvigorate the battle for human rights, and placed such organisations on a more stable footing, though not without significant state funding.

The heart of Clément's study focuses on four Canadian rights organisations: the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDH), and the Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association (NLHRA), all of which emerged after 1960. …

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