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Canada’s Senate Violates Charter Equality Rights through Appointment Process

The unpredictability of human nature has led to the drafting of countless constitutional reforms all over the world in order to ensure that instances where others blatantly trample on the rights of other citizens are eliminated. It is with this in mind that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms clearly states under its “Equality Rights” that:

“15 (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without any discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”

However, current activities being carried out by the Canadian Senate clearly goes contrary to the provisions stipulated in the Charter Equality Rights. According to the new reform, in order for an individual to become a member of the Senate, he or she has to provide written letters of reference from other citizens. This is a clear and complete violation of the rights of people with physical impairments who might not be able to write such long essays to support someone that they deem fit to be part of the Senate.

The idea of allowing the citizens to choose their own competent individuals to represent them in the Senate was seen as a step in the right direction as it meant that every citizen would be able to participate in electing Senate members. However, the additional requirements needed in order to elect an individual to be a member of the Senate is simply a breach of the rights of citizens especially those who are blind. With no provisions for the blind to effectively exercise their rights in nominating of Senate members as a result of the inclusion of a written letter of reference, it can be clearly seen that this new twist in the law is just a way to disenfranchise citizens with physical disabilities especially the blind.

How can a blind person without access to special adaptive technologies be asked to write a letter of reference to back his or her choice of person to be in the Senate? Such a move calls for various processes and procedures to be put in place in order to ensure that each and every citizen regardless of his or her physical condition is giving a fair chance to exercise his or her franchise.

With such a move by the Senate, it has gone to further prove how those in higher authority are constantly abusing the powers vested in them by their citizens. In asking citizens to provide letters of reference backing their chosen candidates, the Senate is indirectly trying to tell the citizens that only well educated and physically able citizens who are well versed in the writing of reference letters qualify to make their voices heard. This all comes down to the issue of the few elite in Canada always violating the rights of others including the physically disabled.


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