The very foundation

The very foundation of modern, 21st century liberal democracy rests in something John Locke said back in the 17th century:


We have, Locke said, three fundamental, inalienable rights: to life (and limb), to liberty and to our own private property. Anyone who has all three rights is a citizen of a liberal democracy, or, perhaps, one of the few successful conservative democracies;  anyone who does not have them might, at best, live in an illiberal democracy but, more likely, in some sort of dictatorship.

According to a University of Alberta document:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not directly protect property rights. The Charter was enacted as part of the Constitution Act, 1982, which affirmed the Constitution as the supreme law of Canada and provided that any law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is of no force or effect. The Charter guarantees certain individual rights against intrusion by the state and gives the courts the power to provide a remedy to anyone whose Charter rights are denied. For example, section 7 of the Charter reads:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

If property rights had been included in the Charter, certain laws restricting or removing property rights would be unconstitutional, and the courts would have been able to strike them down. But property rights were deliberately excluded from the Charter (the reasons for this omission are subject to some debate that cannot be summarized adequately in this guide), and subsequent proposals to amend the Charter by adding protection for private property have not been successful.

The Charter does affect property rights in other ways: section 8 protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure of their property; section 15 guarantees equality before the law and can be used, for example, to challenge land use regulations that discriminate based on religion, mental disability, or other protected categories; and section 26 affirms the existence of pre-Charter common law and other rights that existed in Canada. In addition, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 protects Aboriginal rights, including land rights, against state interference.

So, what is the state of liberal democracy in Canada?

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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