Gosselin v. Attorney General (Quebec): Autonomy with a Vengeance (2004)

In Gosselin v. Quebec (Attorney General), the first poverty case under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to reach the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court ruled against the applicant, Louise Gosselin and the class of social assistance recipients she represented. The decision is deeply divided, and the majority decision turns on a finding that the evidence was insufficient. Therefore, as precedent, the outcome of the Gosselin case may not be particularly significant. However, the majority’s assessment of the evidence is unpersuasive. The challenged social assistance regulation embodied a negative stereotype of young men and women who are reliant on social assistance, which, sadly, the majority of the Court embraced.

The majority decision contrasts sharply with powerful dissents of other judges who found that reducing social assistance for young adults in need to a below subsistence level violated ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter as well as s. 45 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Gosselin v. Attorney General (Quebec): Autonomy with a Vengeance (2004) (PDF}

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