Saturday, December 9

Two minute action on the Court Challenges Program

The Conservatives have cancelled the Court Challenges Program so women can’t fight discrimination

What you can do today:

The Court Challenges Program has been cancelled by the Conservative minority government. This is a blow to all those in Canada who believe in fairness, equality, and language rights for French and English minorities. Please help reverse this decision.
Send email to your MP
Send email to the Prime Minister
Tell your friends about this campaign

What does the end of the Court Challenges Program mean for women?

  • On September 25 2006, the Harper government announced that it would immediately end all funding for the Court Challenges Program of Canada. This is a bad decision for women, and it must be reversed.
  • The Court Challenges Program (CCP) is a very important program that funds test-cases initiated by individuals and groups to challenge federal laws and policies that violate their constitutional equality rights. With the help of CCP funding, women’s organizations and other equality-seeking groups have been able to access the justice system, and present progressive interpretations of the law. This has resulted in more egalitarian outcomes for women, gays and lesbians, persons with a disability and other disadvantaged groups.
  • For example, the CCP provided funding for the Women’s Legal an Education Fund (LEAF) to argue against the use sexists myths in sexual assault trials. LEAF intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Ewanchuk case, where the accused argued that the way a woman is dressed for a job interview can imply that she consents to having sex with a potential employer. Fortunately, the Supreme Court agreed with LEAF arguments and rejected this sexist defense.
  • The Court Challenges Program also funds test cases to defend the language rights of francophones outside of Québec and anglophones in Québec. This funding has been crucial in the struggle of francophones across Canada to obtain French language schools, and health care services in French.
  • This is the second time that a Conservative government has abolished the Court Challenges Program. The first was in 1992, and that decision was decried in all quarters and intense mobilization was successful: during the 1994 elections, all federal political parties promised to re-instate the Program if elected. In 1994, the CCP was indeed re-instated by the Liberal government.
  • The United Nations has repeatedly recognized the vital role that the CCP has been playing in the respect and promotion of human rights in Canada. In January 2003, the CEDAW Committee acknowledged the importance of the CCP in the struggle to end al forms of discrimination against women. And just last May the U.N. Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that the Court Challenges Program be expanded to fund test case litigation against provincial laws and policies that violate constitutional equality rights.
  • For more information on the Court Challenges Program, and for suggestions as to how you can support the campaign for the reinstatement of the CCP, please go to the following website:

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