Prejudice, Racism and the Law in Canada Essay

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Racism and the Law in Canada

     In the 1900’s a prominent English scholar Gilbert Murray said: “There is in the world a hierarchy of races;[some] will direct and rule the others, and the lower work of the world will tend in the long run to be done by the lower breeds of men. This we of the ruling colour will no doubt accept as obvious.”(Walker; 1997) It was very true at the time; everywhere you looked you could see that white men assumed all roles of responsibility.  Canada has been fighting a never-ending war against racism in the 19th century. It. It has modified or created many laws to help try to combat the discrimination that exists within our country.  Canada has modified its immigration act to make it less discriminatory. It has created the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to bring equality to everyone and it has, created human rights acts to protect people of different races.


        Before we talk about the laws that Canada has put into motion to help combat racism we must first define what racism is. The term Racism is hard to define. Racism is more then just an attitude; it is a policy or practice of persecution or domination by one group over another. Due to this explanation the word racism is not found in statutes or court decisions to the same extent as the word discrimination. Discrimination in the ordinary sense of the word means to treat a person or group differently because of prejudice. However in the legal sense this definition had been expanded to include human rights. Today the word discrimination can include concepts such as adverse effect, or unintentional discrimination, and harassment.  Both discrimination and racism come from prejudice. In short prejudice means to pre-judge. In other wo...

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...nada, 1900-1950, Toronto, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 1999


Boyko John, Last Steps to Freedom: The evolution of Canadian Racism, Manitoba, Watson & Dwyer Publishing ltd., 1998


Cohen Tannis, Race Relation and the Law, 1987


Comack Elizabeth and others Locating Law, Halifax, Fernwood Publishing, 1999


Driedger Leo and Shiva Halli, Race and Racism Canada’s Challenge, Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000


Knopff Rainer, Human Rights & Social Technology,  Ottawa, Carlton University Press, 1990


Schnederman David and Kate Sutherland, Charting the Consequences: The Impact of the Charter of rights on Canadian law and Politics, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1997.


Walker James, “Race," Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada, Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1997


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