Council of Canadians with Disabilities : 48 years strong and "On The Road to 50 Years"

As part of our Road to 50, we celebrate and honour all the people that centred their lives to ensure change and equity in Canada, from the intersectional cross Disability and Deaf communities and our allies.

We honour them by ensuring their sacrifice, tenacity and commitment, forever lives on in our Disability Justice History and is never forgotten.

This month, we share the Chapter below as a historical document that tells the real story of the landmark advocacy work done by members of CCD then called COPOH, and many other committed people in the Disability Rights movement which resulted in Disability being finally added to the then draft Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This Chapter was written by Yvonne Peters who along with the people she interviewed are and were the people who were there. This is their living history and continues our commitment to:

A Voice of our Own.

42ndAnniversary of the Charter of Rights

April 17, 1982


Chapter 6 -  From Charity to Equality: Canadians with Disabilities Take Their Rightful Place in Canada's Constitution

Prepared by: Yvonne Peters, 2011

The expression of rights is more than an abstract legal concept.  They express our moral identity as a people and represent society's attempt to give legal meaning to the values of dignity, equality and respect.1

1.  Introduction

On November 3, 1980, fourteen members of the Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped (referred to as COPOH)2  demonstrated on Parliament Hill to press their demands for recognition in a proposed new constitutional charter of rights and freedoms.  According to the Ottawa Citizen, Allan Simpson the then National chairperson of COPOH asserted that "the government had given no more than lukewarm support to enshrining the rights of the handicapped in the constitution."  He said that "coalition members were prepared to take their case to the United Nations or to ask the British Parliament to delay patriation of the constitution until their demands were met."3

The demonstration was the culmination of several efforts by COPOH to have a voice in the constitutional-making process initiated by the then Liberal government.  In the fall of 1980, Prime Minister Trudeau convened Parliament to consider a resolution asking the British Parliament to patriate the British North American Act.  It was proposed that part 1 of the Act would contain a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The demonstration on Parliament Hill was an urgent action organized by COPOH to publicize the fact that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms being proposed, while it explicitly protected the rights of some equality-seeking groups, did not accord such protection to the rights of Canadians with disabilities.  I had the privilege of participating in this historical moment.  I was a member of COPOH's National Council which was meeting in Ottawa November 1/2, 1980.  Much of our time was consumed by discussions on how to overcome the Federal government's wall of resistance regarding our participation in the constitutional-making process.

After months of unsuccessful lobbying, we felt compelled to take our message and determination to the streets.4   Consequently, instead of returning home to our families on Sunday evening, we gathered in an Ottawa hotel room to organize the details of a public demonstration, prepare protest signs, and devise a media strategy.  I believe that the demonstration on Parliament Hill was the first time that people with a variety of disabilities from across the country gathered together to publicly express their frustration and dissatisfaction with government.  People with disabilities were just beginning to experience the promise of rights, and we were resolved not to let the architects of the Charter diminish or undermine this potential by ignoring our claim to legally recognized equality.

Some activists believe that our actions were influenced and encouraged by other rights-based initiatives such as protests by the women's movement and the American civil rights movement.5  From my perspective, the demonstration on Parliament Hill signified a historical turning point; an emergence of people with disabilities as a political force in Canadian democracy.

In this Chapter I recount how COPOH, through skilled leadership and a fierce determination to change the course of history, persuaded Canada to become one of the first countries to accord persons with disabilities Constitutional protection of their equality rights.  I begin the Chapter with a brief background on the evolution of a disability rights analysis and its impact on the development of the disability rights movement as a political actor.  I then discuss the patriation of Canada's Constitution and how it affected Canadians with disabilities.  Finally, I describe some of the strategies used by people with disabilities to illustrate their passion and will to achieve recognition in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The fact that people with disabilities were able to persuade politicians at the eleventh hour to change their minds and include the rights of persons with mental and physical disabilities in the proposed Charter represents an unequivocal milestone in the history of disability rights in Canada.  Since 1982, Constitutional protection for people with disabilities has served as a beacon for transforming discrimination and disadvantage into rights and equality.

2.  The Shift to a Disability Rights Analysis

It is important to understand that the struggle to obtain Constitutional recognition was more than just another political manoeuvre for people with disabilities.  Indeed, it was a watershed event that occurred at a time when people with disabilities were just beginning to construct a new vision and analysis of the disability experience.  Below is a brief description of the social context that underscored the quest by people with disabilities to seek full Constitutional recognition of their rights.

Analysing issues from a rights perspective and identifying discrimination as a primary cause of disadvantage is a recent analytical framework for people with disabilities in Canada.  In the late 1970s, people with disabilities in Canada began to organize and challenge the then dominant view of disability as a medical defect or pathological limitation.  The disability rights movement rejected the medical model of disability, and argued that it was social barriers and prejudices which created disabilities.   The goal of the movement was to secure the right of persons with disabilities to self-determination, individual autonomy, and the opportunity to participate in society as full and equal citizens.  At the heart of the disability rights movement was the desire to transform disability from a concept of charity to a concept of rights.7

The emergence of the disability rights movement coincided with the introduction of human rights legislation in Canada - and particularly the gradual inclusion of physical and mental disability as prohibited grounds of discrimination.  The principles of anti-discrimination established by human rights legislation formed a basis for analysing and understanding the social, political and economic inequities experienced by persons with disabilities, both as individuals and as a group.  Under a human rights analysis, the focus shifted from ascribing fault to individual limitations, to recognizing the harmful effects caused by social structures and institutions on persons with disabilities.  This analysis affirmed that the systematic exclusion, segregation and isolation of persons with disabilities from mainstream society occur primarily because of discriminatory attitudes and systemic barriers.  The shift to a rights-based analysis therefore, represents a profound and decisive turning point in the history of persons with disabilities.  In 1980, people with disabilities understood that, to nurture this transformation, a legal foundation consisting of both constitutional recognition and human rights legislation was necessary.

3.  Canada's Constitutional Proposals Exclude the Rights of People with Disabilities

During the 1970s, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the then Prime Minister of Canada, began talking about patriating the British North America Act and entrenching a Charter of Rights in the Constitution.  In light of Mr Trudeau's thinking, Leon Mitchell, a disability rights activist and lawyer, encouraged COPOH to consider the value of entrenching the rights of people with disabilities in a patriated Constitution.8   Consequently, at its first national conference COPOH passed the following resolution: Be it resolved that COPOH strongly recommend to the Federal Cabinet and all members of parliament that the human rights of physically handicapped citizens be entrenched in any new Canadian constitution.9
In 1980 Trudeau acted on his idea and reconvened the thirty second Parliament of Canada to consider a resolution asking the British Parliament to patriate the British North America Act.  In the fall of 1980, the government of Canada released a document containing its "Proposed Resolution Respecting the Constitution of Canada."  The government's proposal was tabled in both the House of Commons and the Senate and debate began immediately.

The first part of the government resolution outlined a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which included: fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, non-discrimination rights and language rights.  The Resolution provoked a great deal of controversy with six provinces announcing their intention to challenge it in court.  The government was force to invoke closure to move the debate on the Resolution from Parliament to a joint Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution (referred to as the Parliamentary Committee).

Canadians were intensely interested in the work of the Committee.  Many groups and individuals appeared before the Committee and offered both written and oral testimony regarding the merits of the proposed Charter.

While people with disabilities supported the notion of a charter, they had grave concerns regarding the non-discrimination clause which was narrowly worded, and which excluded recognition of their rights.  The clause read as follows:

Everyone has the right to equality before the law and to equal protection of the law without discrimination because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age or sex.

In a telegram addressed to Jean Chretien, Minister of Justice, dated September 18, 1980, COPOH denounced this restrictive wording. On October 20, 1980, Jacques A. Demers , Special Advisor, responded on behalf of Jean Chretien and explained that careful consideration had been given to the grounds that should be included in a non-discrimination clause.10  The letter states:

Since an entrenched Charter is by its very nature a generalized document which does not lend itself to detailed qualifications and limitations, it was ultimately decided to limit the grounds of non discrimination to those few which have long been recognized and which do not require substantial qualification. Unfortunately such is not yet the case with respect to those who suffer physical handicaps and consequently provision has not been made in the Charter for this ground.

COPOH responded by issuing an open letter to the members of the House of Commons and Senate which harshly criticized the government's position and urged the construction of a more inclusive clause.11   Of particular concern was the two-tiered system of rights which the government position seemed to be advocating.  Writing for COPOH, Allan Simpson observed:

To fail to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability in any constitutionally entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms which (prohibits) discrimination on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex or age is tantamount to rejecting the fundamental humanity of disabled Canadians.

If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is entrenched as it is presently written, people who bring complaints of discrimination on the grounds of sex, age, race, religion and other grounds listed in 15(1) (the non-discrimination clause) to human rights commissions at the federal or provincial levels, will also be able to appeal to higher courts on constitutional grounds if they are not satisfied that they have been protected from discrimination by the Commission. Complaints of discrimination on the grounds of disability however, will not have a similar constitutional back up and therefore obviously will not be given the same priority by human rights commissions when allocating limited staff resources.

In fact, it will become quite clear that discrimination against a person because he or she is disabled, while prohibited, is not as prohibited as discrimination against a person because of sex, age, race, religion and the other grounds listed in the constitution.

COPOH recognized that as a Constitutional document, the Charter would become the supreme law of Canada and would have precedence over other laws. In other words, all government laws, policies and programs would be required to conform to the principles articulated in the Charter.  COPOH therefore, refused to back down and continued its relentless campaign to change the mind of the Liberal government.

On January 12, 1981, Jean Chretien made a statement to the Parliamentary Committee concerning the non-discrimination clause of the proposed Charter.12   In his statement he accepted an amendment to the non-discrimination clause of the proposed Charter.  The amendment stemmed from recommendations made by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the National Association of Women and the Law.

Mr. Chretien proposed that section 15 of the Charter be entitled 'equality rights' rather than 'non-discrimination' "to stress the positive nature of this important part of the Charter."  He also proposed that the section be reworded as follows:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex or age.

Despite intense lobbying, once again people with disabilities found themselves on the outside looking in.  Similar to the comments expressed earlier by his Special Advisor, Mr. Chretien argued:

The position of the government is that certain grounds of discrimination have long been recognized as prohibited. Race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion and sex are all found in the Canadian Bill of Rights and are capable of more ready definition than others.

Arguably, Mr. Chretien's new wording was a slight improvement in that it promoted an open-ended list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.  Under such wording, in the future courts could conceivably read in disability as a prohibited ground of discrimination.  However, COPOH was not comforted by this new wording.  For all intents and purposes it still created a hierarchy of rights in that some rights were worthy of specific identification and protection while others were not.

4.  The Quest for Inclusion in Canada's Constitution

a)  The Importance of Inclusion

COPOH argued that an amendment to the proposed Charter would advantage people with disabilities in three specific ways.13   First and foremost, it would give symbolic profile to the rights of people with disabilities.  At the time of the Charter debate, many people with disabilities were still subjected to discrimination without recourse to legal remedies.14   Inclusion in the Charter would therefore affirm the rights of people with disabilities as well as providing an opportunity for legal redress.

Second, because the Constitution is recognized as the supreme law of Canada, all laws in Canada are required to comply with the standards of the Charter.  Inclusion of the ground of disability in section 15, the equality guarantee, would serve as a catalyst for eliminating disability discrimination from all current and future municipal, provincial and federal laws.

The primacy feature of the Charter distinguished it from ordinary human rights legislation.  Laws and related government policies and programs that violate the Charter can be struck down and declared to be of no force or effect.  Human rights legislation on the other hand, is generally designed to achieve an individual solution and does not have the power to strike down discriminatory laws.

The limited power of human rights legislation troubled people with disabilities.  The pernicious effect of the sterilization laws of British Columbia and Alberta which remained on the books until the mid-1970s was still fresh in our minds, and we worried that, had human rights legislation been in effect at the time of their existence, it may not have been capable of effectively challenging such laws.  We wanted the security of a legal regime which would safeguard and protect our rights against the reoccurrence of such atrocities.15

Finally, it was believed that Charter recognition would reinforce the protection available to people with disabilities under human rights legislation.  In conjunction with the Charter campaign, COPOH was also working to secure protection of rights in provincial and federal human rights legislation.  We were concerned that the omission of people with disabilities from the Charter would inadvertently create a first and second class approach to human rights in that our rights would be seen by human rights commissions as less deserving of attention and resources.

b)  The Lobby Campaign

The lobby to seek recognition in the Charter involved a variety of tactics.  Summarized below are some of the key strategies which may have played a role in eventually persuading the Committee to reverse its position on the inclusion of disability in the Charter.

It could be argued that the seeds for a critical Charter strategy were sewn in a Winnipeg hotel in June of 1980.  At that time many people with disabilities from around the world descended on Winnipeg to attend the fourteenth World Congress of Rehabilitation International. People with disabilities were determined to be an actor at the Congress and were intent on shifting the focus from disability as a medical construct, to disability as a social construct, and a subject of rights.16

Earlier that year, an all-party Parliamentary Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped (referred to as the Obstacles Committee) was appointed by Parliament to examine and make recommendations on the physical and social barriers encountered by Canadians with disabilities.  The Obstacles Committee took advantage of the many COPOH members attending the Congress and travelled to Winnipeg to consult with us about their work as a Committee.

At the meeting between COPOH and the Obstacles Committee a deal was struck and Jim Derksen, the then co-ordinator of COPOH, was seconded to the Committee to advise it on the preparation of recommendations.17   Mr. Derksen temporarily relocated to Ottawa, a move that would prove to be very beneficial for the Charter lobby.

During his work with the Obstacles Committee, Mr. Derksen had many opportunities to speak with Committee members about the government's refusal to include people with disabilities in the proposed Charter.  Thanks to the hard work and persistence of Mr. Derksen, Committee members soon sympathized with the struggles of people with disabilities and began earnestly lobbying their respective caucuses for their support.18   In a show of solidarity on the matter, the Committee crafted a carefully worded recommendation which all parties could support and which was included in their first report to Parliament as:

Should it be the will of Parliament to entrench Human Rights in a patriated Constitution, your Committee believes that full and equal protection should be provided for persons with physical or mental handicaps.19

According to Mr. Derksen, the members of the Obstacles Committee played a pivotal role in convincing their colleagues to support the position of people with disabilities and ultimately, our eventual inclusion in the Charter.  Members of the Conservative and NDP parties exerted pressured on the government by asking questions in the House and raising the issue with the Parliamentary Committee.20

The work of the Obstacles Committee coincided with an intensive telegram and letter writing campaign spearheaded by COPOH and its provincial affiliates.  COPOH garnered support from a wide range of parliamentarians as well as from other community and equality-seeking groups.21

COPOH also built alliances with other disability rights groups.  Of particular importance was the alliance established with the then Canadian Association of the Mentally Retarded (now known as the Canadian Association for community Living (CACL)).

The discussion between the two organizations centred on whether to push for the inclusion of both physical and mental disability in the Charter, or to restrict the campaign to physical disability.  Some people were concerned that combining mental disability with physical disability would weaken the chance for success for persons with physical disabilities.22   However, other people recognized that disability, no matter what the origin was largely a product of social attitudes and systemic barriers.  As a result, after much discussion, it was decided that both organizations would advocate as a united front for both physical and mental disability.

The demonstration on Parliament Hill, referred to earlier, intensified COPOH's commitment to the Charter project.  Following the demonstration Ron Kanary (COPOH's vice chair) and I were asked to extend our stay in Ottawa to engage in the direct lobbying of key politicians.  Most of the politicians we met with were genuinely interested and receptive to our issue and were obviously trying to make sense themselves as to how a Charter would function in the Canadian context.

At a minimum, our goal was to obtain an invitation to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee to argue our case.  To this end, our efforts can be deemed a success as shortly after our tour of Parliament, COPOH received the much sought after invitation.23   This was a positive first step and it gave us hope that the tide might be turning in our favour.

c)  The Government's Arguments and COPOH's Appearance before the Joint Parliamentary Committee

Like many institutions in society, the COPOH lobby revealed that politicians and bureaucrats alike displayed diverse opinions about disability. They ranged from a simple lack of understanding to ignorance and a deeply felt bias towards disability.

In the late 70s and early 80s, many people did not understand the social consequences associated with having a disability.  Nor were they familiar with the idea of according equality rights recognition to people with disabilities.  This lack of knowledge and experience produced some extreme and somewhat humorous notions as to how equality might be manifested for people with disabilities.  For example, some government officials believed that respecting equality rights would require all telephone books to be published in Braille. 24  This assumption was, of course, impractical and unnecessary.

During his stay in Ottawa, Jim Derksen attempted to unravel the misconceptions about disability which were being cited as a bar to amending the Charter.  He contacted the Federal Department of Justice and after several phone calls he was put in touch with a Justice lawyer who agreed to an evening meeting to discuss the government's position.25

Out of that meeting two main concerns emerged; fear of unmanageable costs, and concern about how to define disability in the Charter.  The government appeared to be worried that inclusion of disability in the Charter would somehow expose it to large lawsuits that would bankrupt the government coffers.  

Armed with this information, COPOH prepared for its appearance before the Parliamentary Committee.  It prepared a written brief summarizing its concerns as well as an appendix to the brief which squarely addressed the government's arguments.

On November 25, 1980, Jim Derksen, Ron Kanary and myself appeared before the Committee as representatives of COPOH's National Council.  Ron Kanary delivered our brief.

In terms of the cost argument, we prefaced our remarks by observing that no other grounds listed in the proposed Charter, such as age sex or religion, were being subjected to a cost analysis.  We  did our best to reassure Committee members that inclusion of disability in section 15 of the Charter would not result in the "imposition of catastrophic or unreasonable costs by the courts on society."26   We stressed that the court did not operate in a vacuum oblivious to social considerations; that it was highly unlikely for a court to order overnight change in relation to disability; and that the court would likely take guidance from the jurisprudence already  developed under human rights legislation.  Finally we reminded the Committee that, in accordance with section 1 of the Charter, limits could be placed on the entitlement to equality where "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."27

With respect to the definition of disability, COPOH provided several statutory examples which, at the time, were being used by human rights commissions.28   However, we expressed the view that "a Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not an appropriate place for definitions."   Moreover we opined that no other ground listed in the charter required a definition.29

COPOH's remarks were received with interest by the Committee.  However, we left the hearing still uncertain about our chances of being included in the Charter.

d)  The Road to Victory

As late as January 12, 1981, Minister Chretien still maintained that it was not appropriate to include the ground of disability in the Charter.  COPOH and other disability groups did not give up but continued to apply pressure wherever possible.30   And then on Wednesday, January 28, 1981, without warning, the ground shifted and the Parliamentary Committee unanimously accepted an amendment to the Charter which, at long last, included the ground of "physical or mental disability" in section 15, the equality guarantee.31

No one seems to know for certain exactly what sparked the Committee to make this eleventh hour decision.  Clearly, much of the credit must be attributed to the hard work of the members of the Obstacles Committee who were relentless in their efforts to convince their political colleagues to accept the amendment.  But additional stories have circulated throughout the disability rights movement as to how the scales were tipped in favour of people with disabilities.  Below is a summary of some of these stories which may or may not have played a vital role in bringing about a successful conclusion to the Charter lobby.

a)  International Year of Disabled Persons

1981 was designated by the United Nations as International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP) which was based on the theme of "full participation and equality".  Canada was one of the co-movers of the United Nations resolution which established IYDP.  COPOH argued that including disability in the proposed Charter "would be a good demonstration that our domestic actions are in line with the policies we are promoting in the world."32   Other groups such as the CNIB argued that:

For Canada to entrench in its Constitution in the Year of Disabled Persons a Charter of Rights that expressly denies its handicapped citizens the same right to equality before the law which is to be enjoyed by the majority of Canadians would be travesty and would make a mockery of Canada's commitment at the U.N. to equality for the handicapped.33

It is possible that the government buckled under the prospect of having to reconcile its decision to exclude people with disabilities from the equality guarantee of the Charter, with its support for the IYDP goals of full participation and equality.

b)  The Committee Vigil

According to Jim Derksen, a small group of Ottawa-based people with disabilities made a conscious effort to be in attendance at all deliberations of the Parliamentary Committee.  As the Committee hearings were televised, Their purpose was to provide a constant, visible disability presence to demonstrate to both the Committee and the Canadian public that people with disabilities were serious about their demands for inclusion.34

To this end, Derksen recollects that individuals with disabilities would situate themselves behind the person presenting to the Committee to ensure that they would be in the vicinity of the television camera and thus visible to the viewing public.

Apparently, their vigil tactics extended beyond the Committee room.  At the lunch break, this same persistent group would follow Committee members to the Parliamentary dining room and choose a table near to them.  They would then engage in a boisterous dialogue about their desire for equality recognition and about what they might do if their hopes were not realized.  For example, one version of the story suggests that one of the men who used a power chair indicated that one day he just might accidentally knock over a couple of tables and chairs when leaving the Committee room.

Even the privacy rights of Committee members were occasionally compromised by zealous disability rights activists.  One story suggests that one day Allan Simpson, National Chair of COPOH, never wanting to miss an opportunity, noticed Mr Chretien leaving the Committee room.  Simpson followed and the unsuspecting Chretien found himself being lobbied for Charter inclusion in the men's washroom at the urinal.35

It is possible that the government buckled under the tenacious pressure of constantly being under the scrutinising eye of people with disabilities.

c)  The Threat of Bus Loads of People with Disabilities

John Rae, an Ontario disability rights activist recalls that, after making many cogent presentations to the Joint Parliamentary Committee, and after sending hundreds of letters and telegrams to government officials and politicians, including the Prime Minister, "we were still hitting our heads against a brick wall."36   In a January 1981 news article this frustration was noted and it was hinted that busloads of people with disabilities were prepared to descend on Ottawa to protest their lack of inclusion in the Charter.

Rae confesses that there was some truth to this suggestion.  Discussions were underway regarding the possibility of chartering buses and taking folks to Ottawa.  What wasn't so clear is how many people might participate.  Nevertheless, the rumoured was fuelled and circulated widely throughout Ottawa.

It is possible that the government buckled at the thought of bus loads of people with varying disabilities descending on Ottawa to protest their lack of inclusion in the Charter, particularly as it prepared to launch the International Year of Disabled Persons.  In fact there may be some truth to this suggestion.   In his remarks supporting the amendment to include people with disabilities in the Charter, Chretien states:  "I was very anxious that we should proceed tonight. They were preparing to have a big group tomorrow."37

5.  Conclusion

The federal government's initial decision to exclude people with disabilities from the protection of the Charter was not a new experience.  The history of people with disabilities had been one of isolation, exclusion and discrimination by mainstream society.  But, in 1980 things had begun to change for people with disabilities.

We knew that disability was primarily a social issue and not an individual problem.  We knew that across North America equality-seeking groups were gaining power and influence by organizing and developing a united front.  Finally, we knew, based on our limited experience with human rights legislation, the power of having a clearly articulated statement of legal rights. Our new-found knowledge and experience gave us the conviction and fervour to demand justice.

The government's blatant decision to exclude disability rights from the Charter was an injustice that was easily understood by the public at large, the media and, of course, Canadians with disabilities.   Unlike the substantive policy and legislative complexities which have subsequently plagued disability rights, securing inclusion in the Charter could be construed as a simple process matter; who was in and who was out.  And yet, the consequences of the successful disability charter lobby have had abiding and profound consequences for Canadians with disabilities.

First, it solidified the establishment of a national disability rights movement which remains active today.  As Laurie Beachell puts it, "The Charter lobby was the coming of age for the disability rights movement."   Second, it symbolized the shift from disability as a charity concept to legitimizing disability as a status entitled to rights.  Third, it provided a legal framework and another mechanism to enable people with disabilities to continue to fight for justice and equality.

It can be said that the demonstration on Parliament Hill was the beginning of a long journey towards the full recognition of our equality rights.  The guarantee of equality in Canada's Constitution represented the first significant step on this journey.  The remainder of the journey will involve transforming Constitutional recognition into tangible social and economic results.

Yvonne Peters


 1. M. Ignatieff, The Rights Revolution (Toronto: House of Anansi Press Limited, 2000) at 2.

 2. In 1994 COPOH changed its name to the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).
 3.  "Handicapped Protest", Ottawa Citizen, November 4, 1980.
 4.  Minutes of the National Council of COPOH, November 1/2, 1980.
 5.  Interview with John Rae, president of Blind Organization of Self-help Tactics (BOOST).
 6.  J. Derksen, The Disabled Consumer Movement: Policy Implications for Rehabilitation Service Provision (Published by COPOH International, 1980).
 7. Interview with Jim Derksen, chairperson of CCD Human Rights Committee.
 8. Interview with Jim Derksen.
 9. COPOH National Employment Conference, June 25-27, 1978, resolution 6.78/4.
10.  Letter addressed to Allan Simpson, National Chair of COPOH, October 20, 1980, written on behalf of Jean Chretien by Jacques A. Demers, Special Advisor (Government of Manitoba Archives).
11.  An Open Letter to the Commons and the Senate, October 28, 1980, signed by Allan Simpson, National Chair of COPOH  (Government of Manitoba Archives).
12.  Statement by the Honourable Jean Chretien, Minister of Justice to the Special Joint Committee On the Constitution, January 12, 1981 (Government of Manitoba Archives).
13.  Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped, brief to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, November 1980 p. 2-5.
14.  For example, the Canadian Human Rights Act only prohibited discrimination against persons with physical disabilities and only in relation to employment.
15.  Interview with Jim Derksen.
16.  Ibid.
17.  Ibid.
18.  Ibid.
19.  COPOH brief at p. 1.  The all-party House of Commons Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped in its first report to Parliament in October of this year made this statement.
20.  COPOH Human Rights Campaign Report submitted by Herman Wierenga (date unavailable). (Government of Manitoba Archives).
21.  See for example a letter signed by R.G.L. Fairweather, Chief Commissioner for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, dated June 27, 1978 addressed to The Right Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau expressing support for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Charter.  COPOH's brief to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution makes reference to support from groups such as the Canadian Jewish Congress the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Labour Congress.
22.  Interview with Jim Derksen.
23.  "Results of Ron Kanary's and Yvonne Peter's Lobbying   week of Nov. 3 7, 1980" (Government of Manitoba Archives).
24.  Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped, brief to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Appendix On Cost/Definition and other Objections to the Inclusion of Disability or Handicap in 15(1) of the Proposed Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at p. i.

25.  Interview with Jim Derksen.
26.  Ibid at p. ii
28.  Ibid at p. i - ii
28.  Ibid at p. iii - viii
29.  COPOH brief at p. 5.
30.  See for example letter sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee signed by Allan Simpson urging it to reconsider the inclusion of disability in the Charter in its final deliberations (Government of Manitoba Archives).

See also press release issued by the Social Planning and Review Council of B.C., January 16, 1981 (Government of Manitoba Archives).

See also letter addressed to the Rt. Hon. C. Joseph Clark, P.C. M. P., signed by Robert F. Mercer, Managing Director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Government of Manitoba Archives).
31. Hansard.
32.  COPOH brief at p. 7.
33.  CNIB letter, January 19, 1981 (Government of Manitoba Archives).
34.  Interview with Jim Derksen.
35.  Interview with Laurie Beachell.
36.  Interview with John Rae.
37.  Hansard.
38.  Interview with John Rae.
39.  Interview with Laurie Beachell.