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Unique in the Western world, the Court Challenges Program was an undertaking funded entirely by the Federal Government of Canada, without regard to jurisdiction, to subsidize legal test cases of national importance regarding the clarification and interpretation of language and equality rights guaranteed under Canada’s Constitution. This paper reviews the literature on the cancellation of the Court Challenges Program of Canada. Except from 1992 to 1994, when Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government withdrew all financial support for the program, it existed in its various institutional forms from 1978 to 2006, until Stephen Harper’s Conservative government cancelled it on September 25, 2006. In June 2008, the program was somewhat resurrected under the name of the Language Rights Support Program. This program, despite its questionable aspects, helped change the landscape of Canadian law in regards to access to services for Aboriginals, differently-abled people, the rights of women and sexual minorities, and access to education, health and the courts for those speaking minority languages. This paper examines the stormy history of the Court Challenges Program, explores criticisms of its administration, and considers the political motivations that led to the program’s demise in 2006 and subsequent resurrection in 2019.
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