This Q&A is the first in a series produced in response to misleading assertions made by industry representatives questioning the constitutionality of providing the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise with full investigatory powers under the Inquiries Act.

This Q&A provides some background on the relationship between the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the proposed CORE powers under the Inquiries Act. It provides an overview of the operation of the Charter in respect of government actions and laws; and discusses the current state of the law on Commissioner powers and the Charter.

The bottom line? The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada makes clear that the government has wide leeway in designing the office of the CORE to comply with the Charter.

There are many other offices and commissions that have the powers we expect will be provided to the CORE. When faced with Charter challenges to Commissioner powers, or their use in investigations, the courts have upheld these powers in a variety of settings. Thus, the courts have already used the Charter to scrutinize the powers of Commissioners, and found that there is nothing inherent in these powers that gives rise to problems under the Charter.

Download the PDF here.