Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Release: Clément on "Sex Discrimination and British Columbia's Human Rights State, 1953-84"

Via the Canadian Legal History Blog, we have word of a new release from the University of British Columbia Press (co-published with the Osgoode Society): Equality Deferred: Sex Discrimination and British Columbia's Human Rights State, 1953-84 (May 2014), by Dominique Clément (University of Alberta). Here's a description from the Press:

In Equality Deferred, Dominique Clément traces the history of sex discrimination in Canadian law and the origins of human rights legislation, demonstrating how governments inhibit the application of their own laws, and how it falls to social movements to create, promote, and enforce these laws.

Focusing on British Columbia -- the first jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex -- Clément documents a variety of absurd, almost unbelievable, acts of discrimination. The province was at the forefront of the women's movement, which produced the country's first rape crisis centres, first feminist newspaper, and first battered women's shelters. And yet nowhere else in the country was human rights law more contested. For an entire generation, the province's two dominant political parties fought to impose their respective vision of the human rights state. This history of human rights law, based on previously undisclosed records of British Columbia's human rights commission, begins with the province’s first equal pay legislation in 1953 and ends with the collapse of the country's most progressive human rights legal regime in 1984.

This book is not only a testament to the revolutionary impact of human rights on Canadian law but also a reminder that it takes more than laws to effect transformative social change. 
A few blurbs:
"Curious about the origins of our human rights protections? This marvellous book presents fascinating insights. It romps through stories of the courageous individuals who claimed those human rights. It profiles the discriminators in all their egregious glory. And it probes the underbelly of the Canadian state that mediated between the two. Dominique Clément is by turns brilliant, challenging, and inspiring. Read this and ponder our history ... and our future." -- Constance Backhouse 
"Dominique Clément's book is timely. The purpose and value of human rights are being challenged in the press and even in parliament. If we are to avoid an extended era of human rights retrenchment, it is important to learn what has been accomplished and how human rights codes and commissions have affected our lives." -- James W. St. G. Walker
More information is available here.

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