THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES EDUCATION TRUST
The Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust (CCLET) is a non-profit research and public educational organization created in 1967 by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. CCLET’s programs for teachers and students receive funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario and other donors and supporters. That’s Not Fair! is a special project of CCLET and is supported in part by a grant from Heritage Canada’s Human Rights Program.
CCLET maintains that anyone who has the capacity to say “that’s not fair,” can then engage in thinking critically about rights and responsibilities. CCLET supports the belief that children who understand and think critically about their rights and responsibilities are better prepared to live in a diverse community. Understanding that holding different views is acceptable and that we can disagree with one another respectfully, is an important aspect of democratic and civic engagement. There are even indications that where children are encouraged to express divergent views, bullying may be reduced.
The value-balancing approach used by CCLET in its many programs invites children to examine and explore ethical dilemmas from multiple perspectives. Using principles that inform the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, CCLET provides children and educators with a simplified framework for questioning nearly any issue of fairness. In this way, CCLET helps participants to develop the habits of democracy.
CCLET’s resources and programs explore issues of social justice and ask questions that do not have easy answers. Developed by teachers, academics, and lawyers, CCLET’s programs support and fulfill provincial curriculum expectations in many subject areas including language arts, media literacy, and social studies.
IS IT FAIR TO LIMIT FREEDOM?
Mayor Moe and City Council have to find a way to solve their City’s many problems. But, it is no easy trick to work out what is fair.
Every episode starts with a problem that Mayor Moe or one of the City Councilors attempts to resolve by proposing a new bylaw. After the by-law is passed, the citizens quickly learn that with each new by-law comes a slew of consequences, both good and bad. In each episode, The Mayor, the City Council, and the Newscaster then re-examine the fairness of the by-law by applying the Acorn Test – a series of questions to help work out if a rule is fair. Sometimes the rule is fair and other times it needs to be changed or withdrawn.
The three questions of the Acorn Test are:1) WHY? What was the purpose for the new rule? —What was the City Council or the Mayor trying to achieve?2) DID IT WORK? Did or would the new rule achieve its purpose? And maybe most importantly…3) WHAT ELSE HAPPENED? What were the unintended results of the new rule?CCLET developed this method through many years of teaching democracy and critical thinking to children. Educators and learners can explore these questions further through lesson plans that can be downloaded from the site’s resource section. Even though there is something to learn in each episode, That’s Not Fair! is plenty of fun.
EPISODE SYNOPSES:Mayor Moe doesn’t like the squabbling and messy attire of the City Councilors. A bylaw is passed forbidding the Councilors from wearing hats, or dressing in an “untidy” fashion. The new rule conﬂicts with certain religious rules followed by several Councilors. Others object to the restrictions on personal grounds. Can Mayor Moe have a neat and respectful Council without restricting the religious freedom of some of the Councilors? Would any rule about what Citizens wear be fair?
[Explores Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression]
Mayor Moe can’t ﬁnd his Mayoral Chain and forces everyone to submit to a police search. The Councilors must turn out their pockets and bags in the search for the culprit. If citizens have done nothing wrong, why should they mind being searched? Should we assume that anyone who doesn’t want to be searched is a suspect?
[Explores Freedom from Unreasonable Search and Seizure]
MAYOR MOE SEES STARSDoes your school celebrate Earth Hour? The City Councilors think that a lights-out bylaw will help everyone enjoy the night sky – and save energy, too. Is it a good idea to turn off ALL the lights at night to reduce light pollution and reveal a starlit sky? But what do you think will happen next? Are energy savings and a stellar view worth the citizens’ safety? Is it fair to fine creatures who decide to turn on the lights? Could this rule be fair?[Explores Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – how do we know if a rule that limits a freedom is fair and reasonable? ]
MAYOR MOE AND THE NASTY NEWS
Mayor Moe and the City Councilors are upset at unﬂattering depictions in the media, and pass a bylaw to restrict what can be said or written. All “not nice” talk is banned and then The City struggles to get things done. Could it ever be fair to say unpleasant things.
[Explores Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press]
MAYOR MOE AND THE IMPORTANT PERSONAGE:
The Important Personage (IP), who is the unelected leader of Kleeple, comes to the City. The Citizens want to protest her visit. Hoping that the IP will agree to buy products from the City, the City Council passes a bylaw to keep the protesters out of the IP’s view. Protesters and even the newscaster end up in jail. Is a noisy protest a fair way to complain about an unfair dictator who is cruel to her citizens?
[Explores Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly]
GREEN’S GREENS FOR GREENS:
Mr. Green opens a beautiful all green store, which sells only green products for green creatures. The best sales creature in the city happens to be a pink bird, but Mr. Green won’t hire anyone who isn’t green. After all, everything in his store must match the green decor. Should Mr. Green be able to decide who can and cannot work in his own store? Is it fair to make a storeowner hire the best sales creature for the job, even if they don’t match the store’s decor?
[Explores The Right to Equality]