Those questions are my own defence for being far too busy over the past week or so to blog about anything, even something as interesting as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For what it's worth - and very late - here's my eighty two cents.
The Charter matters in modern Canadian history. It's that simple.
Just compare Canada and the United States in the early 1960s and then again today. In the early 60s, Canada was a fairly illiberal country in which a few intelligent thoughtful people were putting forward the idea that governments should protect rights, and many other Canadians (and Canadian governments) were ignoring the idea altogether. It was the United Statess with its Bill of Rights, with its civil rights movement, and with the Kennedys that was the symbol of the progressive, liberal society of the future (despite, or perhaps because of, all the blemishes).
As in the United States there were many Canadians - individuals and organizations - who fought for a more democratic society in these years, one that respected the rights of individuals and groups, and one that protected the rights of minorities and not (as had usually been the case in Canada) the rights of majorities to discriminate against minorities. (This is what really lies behind the conscience rights trumpeted by the Wildrose party in Alberta - a return to the freedom to discriminate. What's next? Are we going to go back to the time when there were restricted covenants on property sales? Shall we say gay people can't buy downtown Calgary condos because selling to gay people goes against the conscience of someone? Such was the thinking of an earlier Canada.)
But despite all the successes of various rights movements in these years, if it hadn't been for the Charter, many of the successes could have just as easily been dismantled over the past decades. This is what has often happened in the United States. Why didn't it happen in Canada? The Charter.
And, of course, it was all something of an accident. It might never have happened. If Joe Clark hadn't bungled his minority government budget in 1980, and if the Liberals hadn't agreed to let Trudeau have one more shot at the can, and if, and if, and if.... it goes on, then we wouldn't have the Charter.
You can tell the Charter matters, if for no other reason, than because the Harper Conservatives don't want us to remember it.