Professor Emeritus Ian Greene launches new book Tuesday

Ian Greene
Ian Greene
Ian Greene

A new book, The Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms: 30 Years of Decisions that Shape Canadian Life, written by Ian Greene, professor emeritus of public policy and law in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS), will launch Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 3:30pm in the McLaughlin Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, Keele campus.

The launch will feature a short talk by Greene, who is the former master of McLaughin College. He will talk about the challenges associated with judging the judges and writing the book.

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has transformed Canadian life since it was adopted as part of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. Greene’s book provides examples to describe the many significant ways the charter shapes Canadian life on a wide range of issues – Aboriginal affairs, voting rights, freedom of religion, the right to strike and language rights, among others. Greene describes key decisions in these areas and offers a commentary on the often-conflicting views of the judges deciding them.

The charter requires judges to make decisions on a wide range of issues that affect all Canadians. In doing so, the courts play a major role in citizens’ lives. Because of the Charter:

  •  The law against prostitution was struck down.
  •  The Harper government’s treatment of child soldier Omar Khadr was found to violate his rights.
  •  Vancouver’s Insite safe injection site was kept open, overriding a federal government decision requiring it to shut down.

cover of Ian Greene's bookEven though the charter is a legal document, debated by lawyers and decided by judges, Greene approaches his subject with an eye on the political impact the charter has on governments and ordinary citizens.

Public discussion of the charter is often framed around the question of who should make these important decisions – elected politicians or unelected judges. This book provides a clear understanding of how the charter works and how ordinary citizens have succeeded – or failed – to win change from the courts. It offers information that people on every side of public discussion can use regarding the role of the charter in Canadian life.

The book continues Greene’s focus on Canadian courts, politics and public policy. Greene has written widely about judges, judging, ethics in politics and the Canadian court system. His other books include The Courts and Honest Politics (with David Shugarman, professor emeritus of political science, LA&PS).

This event is free and open to the York University community. Everyone is welcome. Following the launch, Greene will be available to sign books and take questions.