Equality & Disability – A Charter Analysis

Christopher A. Riddle


This article attempts to trace how the infuriatingly elusive concept of equality has been applied in the context of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and more specifically, Section 15, commonly referred to as the equality provision. It suggests that a critical analysis of the historical application of this concept across various social groups of individuals (race, gender, disability) can bring to the forefront essential aspects of a notion of equality designed to promote justice for not only, but principally, people with disabilities. More pointedly, by distinguishing the differences in the application of the principle of equality in reference to the treatment of marginalized social groups, it argues that we might better uncover precisely what it is that is required of the institution of law when applying the equality provision. Ultimately, it arrives at the conclusion that decisions concerning people with disabilities tend to promote a lesser form of flourishing than those concerned with race or gender. This is the case for at least the two following omissions in disability-related judgments: (i) the recognition of the intrinsic worth of functionings; (ii) the recognition of historically situated prejudices and norm-constructed social arrangements.


disability, charter, equality, race, gender


disability; charter; equality; race; gender

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v32i1.3032

Copyright (c) 2012 Christopher A. Riddle

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