Civil Liberties

Quick Info
(2220.03)  Course
Professor B. Ryder
3 credit(s)  3 hour(s);
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

This course examines laws that restrict fundamental freedoms (such as emergency restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of worship and freedom of movement during the COVID-19 pandemic), and laws that aim to enhance the exercise of fundamental freedoms (such as anti-SLAPP legislation), and assesses them from the perspective of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will focus on the Charter provisions that protect freedom of conscience and religion (s.2(a)), freedom of expression and the press (s.2(b)), freedom of peaceful assembly (s.2(c)), international and interprovincial mobility (s.6), and the right not to be be deprived of liberty except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice (s.7). The course will evaluate whether the unprecedented emergency restrictions placed by legislatures and governments on civil liberties during the COVID-19 pandemic have been reasonable and demonstrably justifiable pursuant to s.1 of the Charter. We will also evaluate the increasing resort by provincial legislatures to s.33 of the Charter to override fundamental freedoms (including Quebec’s Bill 21). The approach throughout will be contextual, critical and comparative. The course aims to establish a theoretical and doctrinal foundation for each of the rights and freedoms studied, and to consider how they relate to each other.