Canada’s Rights Revolution
320 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Release Date:01 Jan 2009
Release Date:21 May 2008
Release Date:01 Jan 2009
Release Date:01 Jan 2009

Canada’s Rights Revolution

Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-82

UBC Press

In the first major study of postwar social movement organizations in Canada, Dominique Clément provides a history of the human rights movement as seen through the eyes of two generations of activists. Drawing on newly acquired archival sources, extensive interviews, and materials released through access to information applications, Clément explores the history of four organizations – the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Ligue des droits de l’homme, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association – that emerged in the sixties and evolved into powerful lobbies for human rights despite bitter internal disputes and intense rivalries.

In addition to offering a unique perspective on some of the most infamous human rights controversies of the period – the Gastown riot, the campaign to counteract police violence in Toronto, compulsory treatment of drug addicts, the October crisis of 1970, and the rights of prisoners and welfare recipients – Canada’s Rights Revolution argues that the idea of human rights has historically been highly statist while grassroots activism has been at the heart of the most profound human rights advances.


  • 2009, Winner - John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award from the Canadian Sociological Association
This book is a good introduction to civil liberty and human rights advocacy, and to important issues facing Canadian social movements. It is well suited to upper level undergraduate courses and for those researching and teaching on the history of Canadian mobilization. It also has the potential to spark debate over Canadian SMO dependence on federal government funding.
Rights advocacy is a topic of immense practical and historical significance. Dominique Clément does Canadian researchers a great service with this impressive historical analysis of leading social-movement organizations that have made rights advocacy their stated aim. This is important and original scholarship, to be sure. Matt James, author of Misrecognized Materialists: Social Movements in Canadian Constitutional Politics
Dominique Clément’s Canada’s Rights Revolution is a major contribution to the historical and sociological literature on human rights in Canada. It is comprehensive, well organized, and makes a persuasive argument about the nature of human rights activism through the framework of social movements theory. Brian Howe, author of Restraining Equality: Human Rights Commissions in Canada
Dominique Clément is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. His website can be found at


1 Introduction

2 Canada’s Rights Revolution

3 The Forties and Fifties: The First Generation

4 Social Movement Organizations: A Brief Introduction

5 The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

6 La Ligue des droits de l’homme

7 The Canadian Civil Liberties Association

8 The Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association

9 Conclusion




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