Course Syllabus


WINTER TERM, 2004-2005


Lectures:      Fridays, 2:30 – 4:00 in Stedman Lecture Hall D
Seminars:      Approximately 1.5 Hours per week on WebCT
        10 Minute Seminar Group Meetings As Assigned (bi-weekly basis)

Course Director:         Ian Greene
Contact Information:        Email:
Office:                225 McLaughlin College
                736-5128, ext. 77055
Office Hours:            Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 to 11:30 (except during reading week), or by appointment.
"Regular" Class Web Page:

Teaching Assistants:       

-Charles Smith; (for exam-based questions)
-Kristopher Crawford-Dickinson;
(for course-related questions and assignments)
            Office Hours:     Tuesdays 9:30 – 11:30 in South Ross 611
                        Fridays 12:30 – 1:30 at Glendon Campus
                    Or, by appointment

Course Overview:  This course examines key provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the courts have interpreted them.  This includes freedoms of expression and association; right to life, liberty and the security of the persons; equality rights and non-discrimination; and the rights of Aboriginal peoples.  In addition, a section of the course is devoted to judicial review of public administration.  Useful prerequisites include: AS/POLS 2100.06 or AS/POLSE 2610.06 and AS/POLS 3600.03 or permission of the instruction

Purpose of Course:  This course will examine the influence of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both on jurisprudence and politics in general.  Principles of legal interpretation and the practical political implications of Charter decisions will be discussed.  The object of the course is to review a number of aspects of human rights legislation and case law in Canada that are relevant to those who may work in the public sector in the future, or in the private sector in areas that interact with government.

Degree Credit Exclusion:  This course is equivalent to AK/POLS 3405.06: “Politics and Law” and SOSC 3360 6.0: “The Charter of Rights”.  Students who are taking or have taken AK/POLS 3405.06/SOCI 3900C “Politics and Law” or SOCI 3360 6.0: “The Charter of Rights” may NOT also obtain credit for AS/POLS 3605.03.

Relation Between POLS 3600.03 and POLS 3605.03:  Both of these courses are required for PPA majors, and most students take both courses during the same fall-winter term (PPA students may take AK/POLS 3405.06 or AS/SOSC 3360.60 instead of POLS 36053.0).  About half of Peter Hogg’s text is recommended reading in POLS 3600.03, and the other half is recommended reading in POLS 3605.03.

Format:  There will be 1.5 hours class on Friday afternoons from 2:30-4:00 and 1.5 hours weekly WebCT participation.  The WebCT participation will consist of discussing weekly questions posted by the Teaching Assistant to the individual groups.  Further, the WebCT participation will consist of attending mandatory bi-weekly group meetings and one Learning Seminar for the Mock Trial (the date and seminar topic will depend on the role selected by the student).

70% Mandatory Lecture Attendance:  Students are expected to attend 70% of the lectures.  Failure to do so, absent extraordinary circumstances, will result in the student not receiving the credit.  An attendance sheet will be passed around each class.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that he/she signs the attendance sheet before leaving class.  Failure to do so will result in a recording of an absence in lecture for that day.


Required:  The following are required readings:

Course Kit:  This consists of a kit of required readings.  This kit can be purchased from the York University Bookstore.

Ian Greene, The Charter of Rights (Toronto: Lorimer, 1989).

Court Cases Posted On WebCT:  The Supreme Court of Canada has released several key decisions within the last 6 months that were unable to be placed in the course kit.  Students are expected to read the decisions from WebCT.  They will be located under the “Course Content” Section under the Folder Heading of “Recent Supreme Court Decisions”.

Recommended:  The following text is recommended:

Peter W. Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada 2004 Student Edition (Toronto: Carswell, 2004).  Earlier editions are also useful.

Other Books of Interest:  The following are other books that may interest students:

    Bakan, Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs
    Beatty, Constitutional Law in Theory and Practice
    Cairns, The Charter versus Federalism
    Hutchinson, Waiting for Coraf: A Critique of Law and Rights
    Knopff and Morton, Charter Politics
    Mandel, The Canadian Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics, 2nd ed.
    Martin, The Most Dangerous Branch: How the Supreme Court of Canada Has Undermined Our Law and Our Democracy
    Morton and Knopff, The Charter Revolution and the Court Party
    Morton, ed., Law, Politics and the Judicial Process in Canada 3rd ed    
    Monahan, Patrick. Politics and the Constitution
    Manfredi, Judicial Power and the Charter: Canada and the Paradox of Liberal Constitutionalism
    Roach, The Supreme Court on Trial: Judicial Activism or Democratic Dialogue


Assignments and Grade:

Letter to the Editor on Reference Re. Same-Sex Marriage (Due January 21, 2005)               5%
Mid-Term Examination (Friday, February 11, 2005)                                                           20%
WebCT Participation (Weekly Participation in Discussions on Questions Posted By TA)      10%
Mock Trial                                                                                                                          35%
    Skeleton Outline For Mock Trial (Due date depends on role)                                           10%
    Final Paper (Due date depends on role)                                                                            20%
    Oral Presentation on Mock Trial (March 18, 2005 or March 25, 2005)                              5%
Final Examination (During final exam period)                                                                         30%

Note:  All assignments are mandatory.  Failure to hand in an assignment will result in an incomplete for the course.

Grading Breakdown:  For the purpose of averaging grades on assignments to arrive at the final course grade, the following numerical equivalents for letter grades will apply:

A+    90-100                A    80-89.9
B+    75-79.9                B    70-74.9
C+    65-69.9                C    60-64.9
D+    55-59.9                D    50-54.9
E    40-49.9                   F    0-39.9   


January 7:        Course Introduction and Pre-Charter Protection of Civil Liberties

Objectives of the course are explained as well as how to conceptualize civil liberties.  Further, the legal protection of civil liberties before the Charter and the events leading up to the entrenchment of the Charter will be analyzed.

Required Readings:  Greene, Forward, Preface and Chapter 1.

Suggested Readings: Hogg, Chapter 31.

January 14:        The Advent of the Charter, The Charter and the Charter’s Critics

This lecture will examine the implementation of the Charter.  It will also provide an overview of the rights covered by the Charter.  Finally, this lecture will outline the various criticisms of the “Charter Politics”.

Required Readings: Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada, 60-74 (Kit).
Rainer Knopff and F.L. Morton, Charter Politics, 169-196 (Kit).
Cases On WebCT:  Doucet-Boudreau v. Nova Scotia (Minister of Education)

Suggested Readings: Hogg, Chapter 33; F.L. Morton and Rainer Knopff, The Charter Revolution and the Court Party System (Peterborough: Broadview, 1999).

Groups 1-4 and 5-8 Mandatory Seminar Meeting (Mock Trial Roles Chosen)

January 21:        Application of the Charter and Democratic Rights

This lecture will examine how the Charter is applied and what democratic rights mean.

Required Readings:  Greene, Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 (136-139 and 150-152).
Cases in the Kit: Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen, [1985]; Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985]; The Queen v. Oakes, [1986]; Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union v. Dolphin Delivery, [1986]; Edwards Book and Art Ltd. v. The Queen, [1986]; McKinney v. University of Guelph, [1990]
Cases on WebCT: Reference re. Quebec Secession, [1998]; Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004].

            Suggested Readings: Hogg, Chapters 34-36.

            Groups 1-4 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            How To Write an Affidavit Seminar (Mandatory For Expert Witnesses)
            Letter to the Editor Assignment Is Due

January 28:        Fundamental Freedoms: Freedom of Expression: Language Rights

This lecture will examine cases involving s. 2(b) of the Charter and other language rights-related cases.

            Required Readings: Greene, Chapter 7.
Cases in the Kit: R. v. Keegstra, [1990]; R. v. Zundel, [1992]; R. v. Butler, [1992]; R. v. Sharpe, [2001]; Quebec v. Ford et al., [1988]; Devine et al. v. A-G of Quebec; RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Attorney General of Canada, [1995].
Cases on WebCT: Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Minister of Justice), [2000]

            Suggested Reading: Hogg, Chapter 40.

            Groups 5-8 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
How To Write a Factum Seminar (Mandatory for Counsel)

February 4        Legal Rights

            This lecture will examine the leading cases involving ss. 7-14 of the Charter.

Required Readings:  Green, Chapter 5 (126-136 and 139-150); Michael Edelson, “Rape Shield Law ‘Tow-Tier Justice’”, The Lawyer’s Weekly (Kit).
Cases in the Kit: Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, [1985]; Reference re. B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985]; Askov v. The Queen, [1990]; Rodriguez v. Attorney General of British Columbia, [1993]; R. v. Mills, [1999].
Cases on WebCT: Canadian Foundation For Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), [2004.

            Suggested Reading: Hogg, Chapter 44.

            Groups 1-4 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            How To Write a Judgment Seminar (Mandatory for Judges)
            Skeleton Outline for Affidavits Due

February 11        Mid-Term Examination

            Groups 5-8 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            Skeleton Outline for Factums Due

February 18        Reading Week (NO CLASSES, NO WEBCT PARTICIPATION)

February 25        Equality Rights

            This lecture will examine cases involving s. 15 of the Charter.

            Required Readings:  Greene, Chapter 6.
Cases in the Kit: Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989]; Schachter v. Canada, [1992]; Symes v. Canada, [1993]; Re Thibaudeau and the Queen, [1995]; Egan et al. v. The Queen, [1995]; Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1997]; Vriend v. Alberta, [1998]; M. v. H., [1999].
Cases on WebCT: Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1999]; Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. N.A.P.E. (2004).

            Suggested Reading: Hogg, Chapter 52.
            Groups 1-4 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            Skeleton Outline For Judgments Due

Note:  Next Friday is the last day to drop a winter term course.  If you're considering dropping this course, YOU MUST talk to Ian Greene or Kris Dickinson first.  We can usually help, in a number of ways.

March 4        Women and the Charter

            This lecture will examine litigating “women’s” issues in the age of the Charter.

Required Readings:  Greene, Chapter 5 (152-162); Shelly Gavigan, “Morgentaler and Beyond: Abortion, Reproduction, and the Courts” in Janine Brodie et al, eds. The Politics of Abortion, 117-146 (Kit).
Cases in the Kit:  Morgentaler v. The Queen, [1988]; Borowski v. Minister of Justice, [1988]; Winnipeg Child and Family Services v. G. (D.F.), [1997].
            Cases on WebCT: Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. N.A.P.E. (2004).

            Groups 5-8 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            Final Affidavits For Expert Witnesses Due

March 11        Aboriginal Peoples and the Charter

This lecture will examine litigating Aboriginal rights issues in the age of the Charter.  Please note, Aboriginal rights are not part of the actual Charter (s. 35(1) is outside of the Charter, but it is part of the Constitution Act, 1982).

Required Readings – Cases in the Kit:  R. v. Sparrow, [1990]; Van der Peet v. The Queen, [1996]; Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997]; R. v. Marshall, [1999]; R. v. Marshall (Motion for Rehearing and Stay), [1999].
Cases on WebCT: R. v. Powley, [2004]; Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), (2004).

            Groups 1-4 and 5-8 Mandatory Meeting (10 Minutes)
            Final Factums Due

March 18        Labour and Social Inequality in the Charter

            This lecture will examine labour and social inequality in the Charter.

Required Readings:  Leo Panitch and Donald Swartz, The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms:  From Wage Controls to Social Contract (Toronto: Garamond Press, 1993), 45-78 (Kit); Joel Bakan, Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs, 45-62 (Kit).
            Cases in the Kit: Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, [1991]
Cases on WebCT: Dunmore v. Ontario (Attorney General), [2002]; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Local 558 v. Pepsi Cola Canada Beverages (West) Ltd., [2002]; Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. N.A.P.E. (2004).

            Mock Trial For Groups 1-4 (From 4:00 – 6:00pm)

March 25:  Good Friday:  No Class

April 1:        Charter Critics Revisited

This lecture will take another look at the criticisms of the Charter.

Required Readings:  Richard Sigurdson, “Left- and Right-Wing Chaterphobia in Canada: A Critique of the Critics” International Journal of Canadian Studies, 7-8 (Spring/Fall, 1993), 95-115 (Kit); Peter Hogg and Alison Bushell, “The Charter Dialogue Between Courts and Legislatures”, Osgoode Hall Law Journal 35:1 (1997), 75-124 (Kit); Ian Greene et al., Final Appeal: Decision-Making in Canadian Courts of Appeal, (Toronto: James Lorimer @ Company Ltd., 1998) 199-211 (Kit).

            Mock Trial For Groups 5-8 (From 4:00 – 6:00pm)

Monday, April 4:  (Make-up for missing class on March 25)

            The Future of the Charter: Review for the Exam

This lecture will look at the future of the Charter in order to provide students with an overview for the exam.

            Required Reading:  Greene, Chapter 8.

            Final Judgments Are Due