Thirty years ago, on April 17, 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted. I do not recall more than casually following political events of the day being, most likely, absorbed in university examinations. I did not fully appreciate the significance of the Charter at that time.
I knew that I grew up in a Canada whose acceptance of immigrants from different lands grew from a culture in which English and French Canadians learned to live together. I grew up in a Canada that was and is still composed of very different provinces, bound together in a federation in which each level of government had rights and powers defined by tradition and legislation, and refined by the courts and national experience.
As the years passed I better appreciated that, with Canadian society growing ever more diverse and more tolerant and welcoming of diversity, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms now recognized and supported this diversity of individuals with formal principles and a structure upon which to build a more just society.
Today, as Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, I’m proud to make note of the document that protects all Canadians and is a model for other parts of the world. I salute those who worked to enact the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and all those who, over the intervening years, have helped to define how it applies to our daily lives.
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