The Charter @ 25 annual national conference


The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada will mark the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at its 2007 annual national conference. "The Charter @ 25" / “la Charte @ 25 ans”, will be held at the Omni Mount-Royal Hotel in Montreal from February 14 to 16, 2007.

Keynote presenters will include Justice W. Ian C. Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Justices Binnie and Scalia will discuss “Judging in a Constitutional Democracy”, the theme of one of eight plenary panels, which also include “The Charter and Security”, “The Notwithstanding Clause”, and “The Charter and Equality”.

Since it came into force on April 17, 1982, the Charter has become the second framework of the Canadian constitutional experience, along with the Constitution Act of 1867. "But the BNA Act is fundamentally about the division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces," notes MISC Director Antonia Maioni, "whereas the Charter has had a huge impact on the relationship among citizens, and between the courts and Parliament. We see the 25th anniversary as an occasion for an appraisal of its impact, and for reflection on the state of democracy in Canada."

Among the themes to be tackled at the conference is the intent of the framers, several of whom will be participating. The Charter's impact on citizenship, federalism and national unity, as well as the courts versus Parliament, are also expected to generate lively debate.

“We are confident that this conference will represent a definitive assessment of the 25th anniversary of the Charter," says Professor Maioni.

Co-chairs of the organizing committee are Christopher Manfredi, Dean of Arts at McGill University, James Kelly, current holder of McGill’s Seagram Chair in Canadian Studies, and L. Ian MacDonald, editor of Policy Options, the magazine of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Policy Options will publish a special issue coinciding with the conference, which will be released on February 8. A book of conference proceedings will also be published.

About the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Over the past decade, the Institute has emerged as a significant non-partisan, bilingual and effective meeting ground that brings together a wide range of voices and ideas in exploring major issues affecting the lives and well-being of Canadians.

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