Published In

BC Studies: A British Columbian Quarterly

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constitutional Law; Canada; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; section 7; social justice; positive and negative rights; rights to shelter; social and economic rights


Canadian courts have routinely excluded basic social and economic rights from protection under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A recent judgment of the BC Supreme Court - which found that two bylaws of the City of Victoria infringed the section 7 rights of the homeless individuals who had erected temporary shelter when sleeping outside in public space - is an exception to this record. This case comment focuses on three aspects of the decision: 1. the centrality of the debate over negative and positive rights; 2. the Court's configuration of the underlying sociological issue of homelessness; and 3. the implications of the case for the larger debate on the Charter's potential for effecting trans-formative change.