Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs

By Joel Bakan

© 1997

The Canadian Charter of Rights is composed of words that describe the foundations of a just society: equality, freedom, and democracy. These words of justice have inspired struggles for civil rights, self-determination, trade unionism, the right to vote, and social welfare. Why is it, then, that fifteen years after the entrenchment of the Charter, social injustice remains pervasive in Canada?

Joel Bakan explains why the Charter has failed to promote social justice, and why it may even impede it. He argues that the Charter's fine-sounding words of justice are 'just words.' Freedom, equality and democracy are fundamental principles of social justice. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenches them in Canada's highest law, the constitution. Yet the Charter has failed to promote social justice in Canada. In Just Words, Joel Bakan explains why.

Sophisticated in its analyses but clearly written and accessible, Just Words is cutting-edge commentary by one of Canada's rising intellectuals.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Canada 150 Collection
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED MAY 2017

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    Regular Price: $27.95

    ISBN 9781487516550
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Quick Overview

Joel Bakan argues that the Canadian Charter of Rights (1982) has failed to promote social justice because it is administered by a conservative judiciary and because social and economic conditions constantly interfere with its principles.

Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs

By Joel Bakan

© 1997

The Canadian Charter of Rights is composed of words that describe the foundations of a just society: equality, freedom, and democracy. These words of justice have inspired struggles for civil rights, self-determination, trade unionism, the right to vote, and social welfare. Why is it, then, that fifteen years after the entrenchment of the Charter, social injustice remains pervasive in Canada?

Joel Bakan explains why the Charter has failed to promote social justice, and why it may even impede it. He argues that the Charter's fine-sounding words of justice are 'just words.' Freedom, equality and democracy are fundamental principles of social justice. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenches them in Canada's highest law, the constitution. Yet the Charter has failed to promote social justice in Canada. In Just Words, Joel Bakan explains why.

Sophisticated in its analyses but clearly written and accessible, Just Words is cutting-edge commentary by one of Canada's rising intellectuals.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: The Canada 150 Collection
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'Joel Bakan is speedily becoming one of Canada's finest constitutional lawyers. This book carries with it his distinctive stamp. His message is worth hearing.'


    Leon E. Trakman, Dalhousie Law School

    'Just Words is superbly argued, beautifully written, and profound in its criticisms of the Canadian constitutional order.'


    Patrick Macklem, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

    'Intelligent and sophisticated students in law and social science will find [Just Words] interesting and valuable but it will also be of great interest to the most advanced scholars in the field. Bakan has a real gift for making complex and innovative ideas accessible to a large audience.'


    Peter H. Russell, author of Constitutional Odyssey: Can Canadians Be a Sovereign People?
  • Author Information

    Joel Bakan is a professor of law at the University of British Columbia.

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