Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Canada's Legal History In The CBC Archives

Today, someone sent me an e-mail reminding me that October 10th happens to be the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

I knew that Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976 and wanted to find out more. I came across material from the Canadian Broadcating Corporation Archives about the abolition debate: there are radio and TV clips, links to educational materials for teachers, to other relevant sites and CBC stories, and to archives from Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language counterpart.

Browsing through the collection, I found that the CBC Archives have made available material about many other issues in Canadian legal history. Among the topics one can find are:
  • The Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard: "He was a carefree teenaged hippie just passing through Saskatoon on Jan. 31, 1969 — the same day nursing assistant Gail Miller was raped and stabbed to death in a back alley. On the strength of sketchy forensics and unreliable witnesses, David Milgaard was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, his case made national headlines as his mother Joyce confronted politicians in a bid to free her son from jail. By the time he was cleared in 1997, David Milgaard had become one of the most famous examples of wrongful conviction in Canada."
  • Sue Rodriguez and the Right-To-Die Debate: " 'Whose body is this?' With those four words Sue Rodriguez single-handedly catapulted the right-to-die debate onto the public stage. After being diagnosed with the terminal disease ALS in 1991, Rodriguez took her fight all the way to the highest court in the land. She failed to get euthanasia and assisted suicide legalized in Canada. But Rodriguez's battle and her death in 1994 forced a crucial debate on this controversial topic."
  • Dr. Henry Morgentaler: Fighting Canada's Abortion Laws: "In 1969 Dr. Henry Morgentaler emerged as one of Canada's most controversial figures when he broke the law and opened the country's first abortion clinic. Over the next two decades, the Montreal doctor would be heralded as a hero by some and called a murderer by others as he fought to change Canada's abortion laws."
  • Charting the Future: Canada's New Constitution: "It was a hard-fought coming of age for Canada. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, Canadian politicians argued fiercely at the constitutional bargaining table over the balance of provincial and federal power. In the end, Canada gained a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a homemade Constitution. But it would not be without its costs as the question of Quebec's status in Canada loomed larger than ever."
  • Trudeau's Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian Taboos: " 'There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.' Those unforgettable words made famous by Pierre Trudeau in 1967 caused a tidal wave of controversy that rippled across the entire nation. Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill brought issues like abortion, homosexuality and divorce law to the forefront for the first time, changing the political and social landscape in Canada forever."
  • Equality First: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women: "The Royal Commission on the Status of Women, called by Prime Minister Pearson in February 1967, held the notion of equal opportunity as its precept. Chaired by journalist Florence Bird, the panel was criticized both for exceeding traditional boundaries and also for hedging on the conservative. But the great undercurrent born of the Bird Commission was a renunciation against inequality."
  • The Battle for Aboriginal Treaty Rights: "It's a battle over the land and its resources. The fight has taken place on the land, in the courts and in the media. When government and native groups signed treaty agreements over a century ago, neither side imagined the repercussions. Canada's native people say treaties have been ignored and their rights — from logging trees to fishing eels — have been limited. In the 1980s, frustration grew and failed negotiations turned into roadblocks and deadly confrontation."
  • Religion in the Classroom: "Canada has struggled with the role of religion in public schools throughout the past half-century. The debate in recent decades is complicated by the fact that Canada is now home to so many different religions. From questioning the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in class to wearing ceremonial daggers at school, the right to exercise one's religion in public school classrooms remains the subject of fierce debate in Canada."
  • Splitting Up: Canadians Get Divorced: "Having concrete proof of adultery was once the only way to get a divorce in Canada. That meant a detective's photograph of a cheating husband. Or witnesses in a dirty motel room. Then in 1968, a new divorce law gave couples trapped in bad marriages an easy way out. The law started a divorce trend that continues to this day, in a time when it's so simple to break the knot, you can even do it online."
  • Pot and Politics: Canada and the Marijuana Debate: "In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been flouted, by recreational users who just want to get high, and by medicinal users seeking relief from pain and illness. From cannabis cafés to courtrooms, doctors and patients, rabble-rousers and senior statesmen have engaged in a passionate debate over marijuana possession. But the laws have endured."
  • The Krever Report: Canada's Tainted Blood Disaster: "A new disease was threatening the Canadian blood supply in the early 1980s: AIDS. But the Canadian Red Cross was slow to introduce donor screening methods and even slower to test the blood. With the Krever Commission, those infected by the AIDS virus and hepatitis C found a compassionate ear and the answers they sought about who was to blame for this public health scandal."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm


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