While I was reading Yahoo! News today, I came across this article which discussed British Columbia's New Democratic Party's affirmative-action rules:

According to the BC NDP's affirmative-action rules, [being "a straight, old, able-bodied, white guy"] makes him ineligible to run in the next election in his own riding. The NDP's equity rule, mandates the next NDP candidate in Maple Ridge must be a woman, or a member of an under-represented group: "Persons of colour, gay/lesbian/bi/transgender people, youth, aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities."

I was surprised that something like this could exist in this day and age, as one might think that selecting people for jobs based on colour, sex, religion, or creed would have gone to the rubbish bin of history along with segregated bathrooms and Robert Borden's campaign slogans. However, when discussing this with folks that are more politically inclined today, I've heard multiple times that this is not only allowed (and behind some closed doors, encouraged), but that there is an exception in the Charter that allows for such kind of hiring practices by the government and the parties that wish to run.

So, after surfing for confirmation of such ... bizarre information, and finding that, to quote Bones "I'm a programmer, not a lawyer," I turn to here to clarify if I'm getting faulty information or if Canada has only added a "No" in front of Robert Borden's infamous campaign slogan.

Does the NDP's hiring practice violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

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    This question deserves the sexism tag, not racism. See also 'affirmative action'.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 4:40
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    NDP, as a Canadian socio-democrat, I really want to like you but you're making it really hard for me.
    – Borror0
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 5:28
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    @ChrisW Actually it does deserve both. Good call. Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 14:52
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    This is a question about racism because one of the criteria cited is "white guy." Whoever said that made a poor choice in wording. Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 23:42
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    @user unknown: The question is about hiring practices, so any possibility that the job duties include running in an election is inconsequential. Regarding your guess, Canadian law also applies to politicians (and their parties). Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does apply to government hiring practices (as it applies to everyone). What you discovered is not a violation of the Charter as long as this activity of hiring has as its objective "amelioration" [as outlined in the Charter].

  Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  (Note: Any web site within the .gc.ca internet domain is operated by the Government of Canada.)

See section 15, subsection 2, which applies directly; for your convenience, I bolded the most relevant text from that section (which was copied directly from the above source):

Equality Rights

Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

  15. (1) 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, age or mental or physical disability.

Affirmative action programs

  (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.(84)

(Similar text can also be found in section 6, subsection 4, with regard to Mobility Rights.)

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    +1 for answering the title of the question, and showing the NDP may use affirmative action. I'll give you another +1 if you can confirm/debunk that they actually do, and if it applies in this case. (Note: Second +1 on the same answer may be subject to unfair limitations against my personal charter of rights and freedoms .)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 1:15
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    @Oddthinking: It wasn't easy, but I did find a page on the BC NDP's web site that details a resolution about an Equity Mandate that seems to fit. I didn't find anything aside from this though, and it's unclear to me if this really is the BC NDP's official policy (I suspect that they probably don't want to publish too much information about their policies because politics is such a dirty game); search for the heading "Equity Mandate Extension" on this page: bcndp.ca/activist/council/resolutions Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 1:39
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    Thanks, Randolf. Nice find. I assume these are the motions that passed, not just appeared on the agenda. If so, this one seems to be one that stalls the need for a 2011 report. It helped me find this report from 2009 that shows that such policies did exist (and were controversial) from 2007-2009, at least.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 2:57
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    @Oddthinking: It's difficult to know for certain, but I tend to agree with you. That report you found appears [to me] to be an official communication intended for public consumption, which I do consider to be reliable enough for our purposes here. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 3:11
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    Here is a link to a report on the success of the Equity Mandate: bcndp.ca/files/u3/Cnv09-Equity%20Mandate%20Report.pdf See "Equity Mandate" for a description of what the mandate is, and how well the BCNDP followed it. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 20:29

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