Spring 2022 - POL 421W D100

Rights, Equality, and the Charter (4)

Class Number: 8002

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    RCB 7100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Eight upper division units in political science or permission of the department.



The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been part of the Canadian constitution for over 35 years. We assess the Charter's effectiveness in protecting human rights and equality within Canada and its effect on the wider political system. Students with credit for POL 428 Selected Topics in Canadian Government and Politics I under the title The Charter of Rights may not take this course for further credit. Students with credit for POL 421 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Course Description:

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been part of the Canadian constitution for almost 40 years. This course will assess the Charter’s effectiveness in protecting human rights within Canada, and its wider impact on the political system. In the first part of the course, we will ask how Canadian courts decide rights cases. We will focus on how equality rights have evolved since 1982 and how courts balance rights and freedoms against the public interest. You will examine the Charter and read case law, giving you skills in interpreting legal texts, and applying legal principles to individual cases.

In the second part of the course, we consider the Charter as a fundamental shift in the Canadian constitutional system – moving power from Parliament and provincial governments to the courts. The final few weeks of the course will be devoted to your own research, which should focus on the legal or political impact of the Charter on Canada. In these classes you will present your research and revise your draft paper using peer feedback.

There will be a 3-hour in-person seminar each week, with students expected to take the lead in debating and discussing the week’s reading and each other’s work.


  • Participation, inc. 1 wk leading seminar discussion 20%
  • Legal Case Notes x 2 (5% each) 10%
  • Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography 10%
  • Peer Review of other students’ draft papers x 2 (5% each) 10%
  • Research Paper inc. memo responding to peer review 35%
  • Presenting research findings: conference poster and Q&A 15%



There is no required textbook for this course. Readings will consist of academic articles and legal cases available on-line and book chapters posted on Canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.