LASKIN'S FOUR CLASSES OF LIBERTY
AbstractThis article explores the relationship between the late Chief Justice Laskin's philosophy of liberty as expressed in a 1959 Canadian Bar Review article and his subsequent decisions on the Bench in cases involving civil liberties and federal power. It will be seen that his views about the appropriate role of the State in such matters remained constant throughout his career. The state was to intrude as little as possible where political and legal liberties were concerned, giving individual freedom a wide scope consistent with societal values of superordinate importance. However, it bore a positive burden to intervene actively to secure economic and egalitarian liberty. The article will show, it is hoped, that Chief Justice Laskin was ahead of his time with respect to political and legal liberties: his dissents did not carry the day when he wrote them, but they spoke to the future under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also to be hoped that his decisions on federal power will be followed to create a Canadian union whose economic and social programs are as vigorous in one part of the country as another.
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