Liberalism and the Living-Tree: Women, Equality, and the Charter

  • Lorenne M. G. Clark

Abstract

The author discusses how Lockean philosophy pro- "minimalist" version of liberalism, as opposed a "maximalist" concept of the liberal state which finds support in Mill's philosophy. In the former, it is argued, there is no adequate basis to allow for the promotion of sexual equality, given that the theory is grounded in ' 'negative' 'freedoms which would allow substantive dis- among individuals in the state, and would frown upon state interference in prohibiting such activities. In the latter, however, it is argued that there is a stronger basis for the state to prohibit discriminatory activities among individuals. It is argued that, since Canada was founded on the basis of the latter position, the Charter of Rights could operate to positively promote equality among individuals, despite the fact that it is a adopted by, and within the context of, a "liberal" state. On this basis, it is argued that Charter is premature, since the Charter and liberalism could both reasonably allow for the promotion of sexual equality by the state.