Crime Victims and Constitutional Rights

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Criminal Law Quarterly. Volume 49, Number 1 (2005), p. 432-471.


Canada; constitutional amendment; victim's right


This article will address the issue of the feasibility, desirability and need for a constitutional amendment in Canada to enshrine victims' rights (hereinafter the VRA or Victim's Rights Amendment). Amending the Constitution can be a politically dangerous exercise. The durability of a constitutional right, and the unpredictability of judicial interpretation of that right, suggests that constitutional amendments should be reserved for public policy objectives that cannot be achieved through legislative and administrative reforms. Clearly we have reached the stage in the victims' rights movement where a reasonable observer would conclude that the ordinary channels for effective law reform have failed and that this failure should prompt discussion and consideration of a VRA. However, the failure of current law reform measures is only a necessary condition for the consideration of a constitutional amendment - in itself it cannot be a sufficient reason for resorting to the rather extraordinary measure of amending the "Supreme Law of the Land".

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