The Supreme Court and Civil Liberties


  • W. S. Tarnopolsky



To what extent has the Supreme Court of Canada tended to promote human rights and protect fundamental freedoms? This question is examined by looking at the bases on which the Supreme Court can protect civil liberties. In decisions prior to 1950 the author finds that the Supreme Court was not protective of "egalitarian" civil liberties. With respect to "political" civil liberties, the author finds the majority judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada of the 1950's inspiring. The enactment of the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 provided an important direction to the Court to protect civil liberties. The author feels that the Supreme Court has not yet satisfac torily responded to this direction. However, the Drybones decision recognized the constitutional status of the Bill of Rights and the author supports the argument that it is constitutional instrument.