to Save the Court Challenges Program
Court Challenges Program of Canada:
An Important Access to Justice Institution
Court Challenges Program of Canada (CCP) provides access to justice
in language and equality rights constitutional test cases.
Canadian Constitution establishes important constitutional rights, including
the rights of official language minority groups to education and government
services in their primary language and the rights of everyone to equality
before and under the law and to equal protection and equal benefit of
the law without discrimination. However, these rights are only paper
guarantees unless the individuals and groups they are designed to protect
have the means to access the courts in order to enforce their rights.
be meaningful, rights have to be exercised. But many individuals and
groups cannot access the courts without financial assistance. Without
the CCP in place to provide this assistance, the interpretation and
application of constitutional rights will only be available to those
with deep pockets. Unequal access to constitutional rights adjudication
must be a concern for all.
courts have long recognized that it would be "practically perverse"
to expect governments to simultaneously enforce and challenge legislation.
As a result, our justice system has recognized and accommodated public
interest litigation to fill this void. The CCP plays an important role
in facilitating public interest litigation in its mandate areas.
a constitutional democracy like Canada, constitutional rights litigation
is an essential part of democratic dialogue and the exercise of citizenship.
Constitutional test cases examine the meaning of rights and their limits.
As a society, we suffer when constitutional wrongs go unchecked.
amounts provided by CCP are a fraction of the full cost of a constitutional
test case. Individuals and groups also contribute to these cases and
lawyers carry out the legal work on a reduced fee scale or in some cases
for free. Yet, the CCP's contribution is vital - without it, these important
rights would remain out of reach. Without CCP funding many worthy cases
will never be launched and constitutional violations will continue unchecked.
addition to funding cases, the CCP has made a significant contribution
to the quality of these cases by developing resources to assist litigants
and by taking other steps that help to build the capacity to undertake
these complex, novel cases.
Government of Canada has repeatedly informed United Nations treaty bodies
that it funds the CCP in order to meet its obligation to ensure equal
access to the courts and to provide effective remedies under international
human rights treaties. These United Nations treaty bodies have recognized
the Court Challenges Program as a vital means of implementing treaty
rights, and have praised Canada for it.
justice system fails radically when individuals and groups whose constitutional
rights are violated are denied access to justice. The CCP plays an important
role in ensuring our justice system is fair.