Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 28

From the Newfoundland Status of Women Council’s Newsletter, Vol. 8, #9, November 1981.

In the early 80s, Women in Newfoundland and across Canada began a fight to ensure their rights were guaranteed at the most basic of levels – in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained within the Canadian Constitution.

While the Canadian Constitution was still being developed in 1981, women’s groups learned that an important part of the Charter that protected women’s rights was being dropped. This was Section 28, which guaranteed that equal rights to men and women could not be overrode by provincial laws. A Newfoundland Ad-hoc Committee on the Constitution was set up to fight this issue and women across the province staged demonstrations and sent telegrams and letters to both the provincial and federal governments.

After much lobbying, Newfoundland’s Premier (Brian Peckford) agreed to support keeping Section 28. Several women from Newfoundland then flew to Saskatchewan to join other women from across the country in lobbying the last premier to hold out his support for Section 28. These women were also successful. When the Charter of Rights was passed by Parliament in 1982, several women from Newfoundland and Labrador were there to watch the process.

Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

- Section 28, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms