From one point of view, an attempt to replace British common law with an approximation of American statutory guarantees. There’s a danger that the Charter will merely guarantee every Canadian a plague of lawyers, along with the right to compulsory litigation. But a less cynical view is to acknowledge that it is useful for a group of people planning to live together to formalize the ground rules, and to declare (and make actionable) that they’re permitted to say and write whatever they want even if some people are offended. Yet even an actionable Charter is limited by the culture in which it operates–in Canada’s case, an aggressive business culture that is part of a global economic revolution that characteristically tries to undermine nation-states wherever and whenever the nation-states impinge on the unfettered activities of the market. Even though it’s largely a moveable abstraction often colliding with an irresistible market economy, the Charter nonetheless helps to sustain a way of talking about life that we abandon at our peril, and it provides individuals and groups in civil society some protection against arbitrary, addled, and/or whimsical legislators.