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At the time of Confederation, little thought was given to the entrenchment of human liberties in a constitutional document. The Fathers of Confederation saw the new nation as an inheritor of the freedoms enshrined in English constitutional law and it was not thought necessary to make specific reference to them in the British North American Act.

Until the Second World War, there was little popular interest in guarantees of civil liberties. The events of the war and the realization that liberties could be denied even in democracies increased interest in the desirability of a Bill of Rights for Canadians. In the 1940s and 1950s, various political and legal organizations advocated such a bill and the idea was studied by various Parliamentary Committees. The Bill of Rights which received Royal Assent on August 10, 1960, however, is associated mainly with the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, who raised the issue in the House of Commons in 1945 and continued to press for such a Bill until, as Prime Minister, he was in a position to realize his ambition. After study by a special House of Commons Committee, the bill was unanimously passed in its present form.

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