Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ 30th anniversary to be recognized by U of Windsor law students’ campaign

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

While the Conservative government revs up to commemorate a 200-year-old war, a group of law students is trying to raise awareness of a more recent, probably more relevant piece of history: the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II sat beside Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa and signed the Canada Act, which gave Canada control of its Constitution, which includes the Charter.

The Charter was the culmination of two years of study and negotiation with the provinces and other stakeholders, including women and First Nations.

The University of Windsor's graduating Faculty of Law class has enlisted Canadian celebrities to try and raise awareness of the Charter and its impact on Canadian law through The Charter Project.

The effort includes videos and web discussion forums aimed at sparking a conversation about the watershed law.

Project co-founder Byron Pascoe said about 23 Canadian celebrities, including TV and movie star Paul Gross, comedian Howie Mandel and singer Sarah Slean, are helping promote the campaign on video.

The project has also developed Charter-themed workshops for high-school classrooms similar to those delivered to students three decades ago when the Charter was introduced.

"Our main avenue is to get the word across our workshops we've developed for high school students and also interviews with legal experts," Pascoe told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.

The project's web site features interviews with about 20 legal experts who give often critical perspectives of the document.

Pascoe said he hopes the effort will trigger discussions among friends and family "about the values that underpin our society."

The federal government is spending $28 million on a three-year program of events to commemorate the War of 1812 between Britain's Canadian colonies and the United States.