What Section 15 has Achieved


  • Penney Kome free-lance journalist


women's movement, women judges, equality rights



The triumphant Canadian women’s constitution fight was a “political earthquake.” Massive lobbying efforts created or amended, inserted, and defended two sections relevant to sex equality—sections 15 and 28—in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Responses from both provincial and federal governments included the appointment in 1982 of the first woman justice of the Supreme Court, Bertha Wilson. A series of court challenges under section 15 resulted in a legal earthquake with respect to equal treatment for sexual preference. The presence of women justices on the Canadian Supreme Court—a political change—may produce the level of scrutiny that section 28 was intended to invoke.



Le combat constitutionnel triomphant des femmes canadiennes a été un « cataclysme politique ». Les efforts massifs de lobbying ont permis de créer ou de modifier, d’insérer et de protéger deux articles pertinents à l’égalité des sexes—les articles 15 et 28—dans la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. Les réactions du gouvernement fédéral et des gouvernements provinciaux ont comporté la nomination, en 1982, de la première femme juge à la Cour suprême, Bertha Wilson. Une série de contestations judiciaires en vertu de l’article 15 a provoqué un cataclysme juridique en ce qui concerne l’égalité du traitement face à l’orientation sexuelle. La présence de femmes juges à la Cour suprême du Canada—un changement politique—pourrait entraîner le degré de minutie que l’article 28 visait à invoquer.


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Author Biography

Penney Kome, free-lance journalist

Penney Kome has published six non-fiction books and hundreds of periodical articles, as well as writing a national column for 12 years and a local (Calgary) column for four years. Her books include Somebody Has To Do It: Whose Work Is Housework? (McClelland & Stewart 1982); The Taking of Twenty-Eight: Women Challenge the Constitution (Women's Educational Press, 1983); and Peace: A Dream Unfolding (Sierra Club Books 1986). She was Editor of Straightgoods.com from 2004 - 2013.


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37.2 (1) - Canadian Women Challenge the Constitution: The Story Behind the Story