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Meet Senator

Paul Massicotte

The Hon. Paul J. Massicotte, B.Comm., C.A. Senator Paul Massicotte was appointed to the Senate on June 26, 2003 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. He represents the province of Québec and the Senatorial Division of De Lanaudière.

Statements & Hansard

Charter of Rights and Freedoms—Inquiry

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Statement made on 01 May 2012 by Senator Jane Cordy

Hon. Jane Cordy:

Honourable senators, as we all know, April 17 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The thirty years have gone by quickly, and I am sure many can remember clearly the signing of the document by Prime Minister Trudeau and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Parliament Hill.

Unfortunately, the Harper government refused to mark this milestone in a significant way, so I am thankful to Senator Cowan for initiating this inquiry to provide the opportunity for senators to recognize the anniversary of the signing of this important document.

The Charter helped entrench Canadian shared values, and it reflects our beliefs that Canadians have a fundamental right to live free from discrimination based on race, religion, gender or disabilities. Canadian are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They have freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

I feel a great sense of pride when I travel around the world as a representative of Canada when attending NATO meetings. Canada garners much respect and is held in high esteem around the globe. I am always deeply honoured to represent our country. It is this same sense of pride all Canadians should feel and indeed do feel with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document that is admired the world over.

This admiration is evident as many countries have looked to Canada's Constitution and Charter for guidance when it comes to the drafting of their own constitutions. A forthcoming study by two law professors in the United States analyzed the content of 729 constitutions drafted between 1946 and 2006 and found that the U.S. Constitution no longer serves as the main source of inspiration for constitution-making around the world. Rather, it is Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms that now leads the way in providing that inspiration.

The Canadian Charter most appropriately addresses the values and concerns shared by most common-law nations today in a way the American Constitution does not. It is worth noting that the American Constitution is the oldest national constitution in force and, as such, is not as attractive a blueprint to address today's values and modern problems. An example of that can be found in the ways the two documents address equality, a value that has become a fundamental right underpinning multicultural, multiracial and multi-religious nations of today. The U.S. Constitution does not protect rights of freedom from discrimination based on race or sex, whereas those rights are distinctly protected in Canada's Charter.

The protection of these equality rights was also a major reason officials in South Africa looked to Canada's Charter when drafting their laws regarding the rights of their citizens in the 1990s.

The Charter has also been an influence in Israel's basic laws on human rights, as well as the drafting of the bill of rights in Hong Kong, South Africa and New Zealand.

It is encouraging to discover that Canadian values are shared not just by us but are values that many the world over wish to enshrine in law. We should be proud to celebrate the fact that we are a beacon of light for the peoples of other nations wanting to develop and entrench in their own societies the rights and freedoms that provide for a free and just society.

Bob Rae spoke in favour of the Charter in the other place 30 years ago, and he voted for the patriation of the Constitution 30 years ago. On the thirtieth anniversary on April 17 of this year, Mr. Rae stated:

The Charter enshrines our most cherished Canadian values. It reflects our belief that Canadians have a fundamental right to live free from discrimination, to assemble peacefully and express our opinions, to vote in elections unimpeded, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and fundamentally, that our individual rights take precedence over the rights of government.

Honourable senators, the anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be celebrated by all Canadians, regardless of what political party they may support. It makes Canadians who we are. It is our Charter, a Charter for all Canadians, helping to shape our collective identity. It should not be ignored.

Thank you, honourable senators.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

Business of the Senate

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I'm rising to speak on behalf of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, who had to be in Halifax tonight on public business. I must tell you that when I called him to say we were going to be adjourning for the summer tonight, he was, I could tell, quite irritated, not because he wanted us all to go on working like galley slaves but because he had already written a speech that he wanted to give tomorrow morning.

Lighthouses as Irreplaceable Symbols of Maritime Heritage—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Thank you, Your Honour, and my apologies to Senator Champagne.

Unequal Access to Justice—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I know that Senator Jaffer was preparing to close this debate but, before she did that, I just had to say how terribly important the subject she has raised is.

The Senate—Promoting and Defending Causes that Concern the Public Interest—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Honourable senators, I am looking for a bit of love and empathy at this late hour because I do have a speech, but you have to understand that, in the interest of having dignified departures for our five senators this week, I gave up my time to make sure that we were able to celebrate the departures of Senator Buth, Senator Segal, Senator Callbeck, Senator Dallaire and Senator Champagne.

Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchell | So, you thought you weren't going to hear from me? Well, I fooled you! So there! I rise in support of this report by the Defence Committee recommending that Canada become involved in ballistic missile defence with NORAD. I congratulate Senator Lang and other members of the committee for what I think was great collaborative work, completely non-partisan, very extensive and detailed with intense research.
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