Realizing Constitutional Rights through Advocacy, Education and Research.
- To make a significant contribution to the quality of constitutional advocacy in Canada
- To be an expert resource on constitutional rights in Canada
- To increase the awareness and acceptance of Canadian constitutional rights
The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights is a centre within the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law devoted to advocacy, research and education in the area of constitutional rights in Canada. The Centre houses a unique legal clinic that brings together students, faculty and members of the legal profession to work on significant constitutional cases. Through the establishment of the Centre the University of Toronto joins a small group of international law schools that play an active role in constitutional debates of the day. It is the only Canadian Centre in existence that attempts to bring constitutional law research, policy, advocacy and teaching together under one roof.
The Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights situates the University of Toronto at the leading edge of constitutional law studies internationally and secures Canada’s place in the international dialogue about the limits of constitutional rights. “This centre will play a vital role in articulating Canada’s constitutional vision to the broader world,” says Dean Mayo Moran. “It will be the cross- roads of constitutional education, research and advocacy,” she adds.
Creation and Funding:
David Asper, in a speech to the Canadian Association of Journalists, May 12, 2006, stated, “There has to be a way that we can level the playing field with respect to fighting for our Charter rights [other] than the present system, where no one individual, except the most wealthy and foolhardy, could stand up and defend themselves.” Motivated by the elimination of funding for the federal Court Challenges Program, David Asper believed that steps needed to be taken to enhance access to justice for people whose constitutional rights have been violated.
The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights was established by his generous gift to the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto in the amount of $7.5 million. Half of the gift is an endowment to provide the basic operational support leading to the creation of innovative programs, including workshops, fellowships, student internships and a path-breaking constitutional litigation clinic. The remaining gift will go toward the construction of offices, teaching spaces and meeting rooms associated with the Centre in the proposed new Faculty of Law building.