Twenty-five years ago, on April 17, 1982, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the Queen repatriated the Constitution and introduced to Canada the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It was a document that would revolutionize the criminal justice system, providing new rights' guarantees to the accused, but at the same time complicating the justice system to the point -- some have argued -- of crisis.
Of course, the accused always had rights in Canada. Before the Charter, Canada had the Canadian Bill of Rights, enacted in 1960 by John Diefenbaker.
But the bill was always lamentably limited in scope. Because it wasn't enshrined in a constitution, it was easily amendable by Parliament and had no application to provincial laws.
The Charter was something new, granting fresh powers to the courts to allow them to strike down unconstitutional federal and provincial statutes.
It also provided the courts for the first time with effective mechanisms to enforce our rights, says Michael Code, who has worked both as a Crown attorney and a defence counsel and teaches law at the University of Toronto. Source...