This paper considers the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2007 section 15 jurisprudence, and analyzes the “year that wasn’t”. The Equality Rights provision was only referred to in four cases, and in each instance the Court’s reasoning was very brief, amounting at best to a handful of paragraphs. While the Supreme Court may have been subdued in its equality rights jurisprudence in 2007, equality-seekers should not ignore what did (or did not) happen in the past year. The author reviews Charkaoui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), Canada (Attorney General) v. Hislop, Health Services and Support-Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia (B.C. Health Services) and Baier v. Alberta, and considers what the Court said about section 15 in each decision, as well as what might have been said. The author concludes that we should be particularly concerned about the decision in B.C. Health Services, for its failure to consider the intersecting oppressions of gender and occupational status results in serious limitations to understanding intersecting grounds of disadvantage. The 2007 cases might have offered a chance to acknowledge unfortunate developments in section 15 methodology and offer some guidance in restoring a vision of section 15 that focuses on substantive equality. Instead, the Court seriously curtailed the potential of equality litigation and further closed the door to advocates and intervenors interested in progressive equality interpretations.
"The Silence of Section 15: Searching for Equality at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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