Court Challenges Program of Canada

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The Court Challenges Program of Canada (CCP) is a non-profit organization whose stated purpose is "to provide financial assistance for important court cases that advance language and equality rights guaranteed under Canada's Constitution".

Its history can be traced to 1978, when the federal government of Canada began providing assistance for minority language cases. The government of Brian Mulroney created an expanded Court Challenges Program in 1985, after the equality section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law.[1] However, the Mulroney government later withdrew financial support for the program in 1992.[2] This was a controversial decision, and was opposed by some people.[3] The government of Jean Chrétien re-established the program in 1994, and the current CCP traces its origins to this period.[4]

The government of Stephen Harper abolished the $5.5M in funding for the program in 2006.[5][6][7] This was again a controversial decision, and was strongly criticized by civic society groups.[8][9] The CCP no longer accepts new applications for funding, although it honours pre-existing grants and continues to process requests for reimbursement for these grants.

The program was partially restored in June 2008 for the official languages minority component of the program, under the name Language Rights Support Program.[10][11]

As of February 2017, the Court Challenges Program has been reinstated with an annual budget of $5 million. [12]


  1. ^ David Vienneau, "Expand aid for challenges of unfair laws, MPs urge", Toronto Star, 11 December 1989, A20.
  2. ^ "Ottawa ends aid for Charter cases", Globe and Mail, 28 February 1992, A6.
  3. ^ David Vienneau, "Charter birthday 'a day of mourning'", Toronto Star, 16 April 1992, A16; Sean Fine, "Court Challenges Why program died was never clear", Globe and Mail, 1 September 1993, A7.
  4. ^ "Court-challenges program reinstated", Globe and Mail, 25 October 1994, A4.
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  8. ^ Lorne Sossin, "An axe that harms democracy", Toronto Star, 28 September 2006, A23.
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