Building a Just Society: A Retrospective of Canadian Rights and Freedoms

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) provides the ideal place for you to engage with the legacy and the promise of "Peace, Order, and good Government", the principles expressed in Canada's founding constitutional document, the British North America Act of 1867.

As the repository of the government of Canada's documentary heritage, LAC preserves many milestones of Canadian history, governance and political culture. Foremost among these is the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982. Signed on Parliament Hill on April 17, 1982, this Act of "patriation" made Canada the sole custodian of its constitutional development. The Act also established a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights and language rights of all Canadians.

Building a Just Society is an eclectic Web exhibition created to mark the 25th anniversary of these constitutional milestones. LAC invites all Canadians to explore the documentary heritage collections that record the story of governance and political culture in Canada, and the achievement of rights and freedoms that have marked our national evolution as a just society.

Table of content

Photograph of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau consulting with Minister of Justice Jean Chrétien during Constitutional Conference, Ottawa, 1981

Premiers Peter Lougheed of Alberta and René Lévesque of Quebec during a Constitutional Conference in Ottawa, 1981

Image of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, a document recognizing certain fundamental rights and freedoms as part of Canada's patriated Constitution, April 17, 1982

Postage stamp depicting Canada's Coat of Arms, commemorating the CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS, 1987

Postage stamp depicting Canada's Coat of Arms, in commemoration of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1987

Photograph of officials signing the Proclamation of the CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982, on Parliament Hill, Ottawa (from left to right: Gerald Regan, Minister of Labour; Jean Chrétien, Minister of Justice; Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; André Ouellet, Registrar General; Queen Elizabeth the Second; Michael Pitfield, Clerk of the Privy Council), April 17, 1982

Officials during the signing of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, on Parliament Hill, Ottawa (from left to right: Gerald Regan, Minister of Labour; Jean Chrétien, Minister of Justice; Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; André Ouellet, Registrar General; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; Michael Pitfield, Clerk of the Privy Council), April 17, 1982

Cover of a book entitled LES ANNÉES TRUDEAU : LA RECHERCHE D'UNE SOCIÉTÉ JUSTE

Cover of a book entitled Les années Trudeau : La recherche d'une société juste, 1990 / edited by Thomas S. Axworthy and Pierre Elliott Trudeau -- [Montréal] : Le Jour, c1990. -- 425 p. : ill. ; 23 cm. -- ISBN 2890444066. -- Cover © Éditions de l'Homme. Reproduced with the permission of les Éditions de l'Homme.
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The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has sustained lively debate and has stimulated diverse responses across Canada during the last 25 years. Accordingly, LAC has invited a number of individual Canadians to contribute their personal thoughts and thought-provoking commentary on this vital section of our Constitution. Although these commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of LAC or the Government of Canada, we thank the authors for contributing to open debate and the exchange of ideas that reflect the spirit of the Charter itself.

Acknowledgement

LAC gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose financial assistance through Canadian Culture Online made this work possible, as well as the support of the Legislative Instruments Re-enactment Team of Justice Canada.

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