Are All Charter Rights and Freedoms Really Non-Absolute?

Research output: Articlepeer-review


This article challenges the conventional legal wisdom that no right or freedom in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is absolute. Section 1 of the Charter is the most commonly cited source of this wisdom, but this provision merely sets out the standard that the state must meet to justify a limit on a Charter right or freedom. Section 1 does not provide advance confirmation that limits satisfying this standard exist for all Charter rights and freedoms. This interpretation, if correct, does not automatically render any of the rights or freedoms in the Charter absolute. Indeed, the standard in section 1 may ultimately capture all of these rights and freedoms. Nonetheless, this article proposes two candidates for absolute status: (a) freedoms that concern the internal forum of the person (e.g., freedom of thought) and (b) the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-121
JournalDalhousie Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this