Julius Grey on equality 30 years after the Canadian Charter

By Marilla Steuter-Martin

The JHR Concordia executive with Julius Grey (centre). Photo by Nathalie Laflamme.

The JHR Concordia executive with Julius Grey (centre). Photo by Nathalie Laflamme.

Constitutional human rights lawyer Julius Grey compares the battle for rights equality to the Greek myth of Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill for eternity.

During a speech organized by JHR Concordia on April 10, Grey told students that rights protection is Canada is actually worse than it was 32 years ago during the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He says the largest issue of the day is that of economic inequality: “The distance between rich and poor is increasing. That’s the fundamental equality.”

Grey went on to explain government legislation is largely to blame for the expanding gap between wealth and poverty.

“We’ve deregulated the one thing we should have kept regulated,” said Grey. “Equality without economic equality is more dangerous than good.”

Grey presented the idea that implementing a maximum wage cap would be a smart way to limit the amount of personal wealth people are able to amass. While this idea would hardly seem appealing to the upper echelon, he argues that it could do a lot to remedy inequalities that exist in Canada’s economic system.

Grey also addressed issues relating to freedom of expression, which he says is almost completely gone due to technological advances and a culture addicted to social media. Now that anyone has the capability to record, often without the subject’s knowledge, people have to be much more careful about what they do and say even in private.

Despite these setbacks, Grey concedes that the greatest success of the past 30 years has been the progress made on LGBT rights.

Grey recounted his own experiences advocating for gay rights in the 1980s when his stance wasn’t nearly as accepted or even taken seriously.

He considers LGBT rights “a matter of ensuring the dignity of each individual who happens to be gay.”

While he applauds the progress made in Canada legalizing gay marriage and the passing of other rights-related policies, he notes that this is not the case everywhere. According to him, attitudes may be changing for the better, but “it’s not necessarily a final battle.”



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