The Canadian Charter is part of Canada’s constitution and as citizens it bears reviewing from time to time.

The Charter guarantees your freedoms and rights, including:

  • Fundamental freedoms of association , conscience and religion ; thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media
  • Democratic rights – such as the right to vote
  • Mobility rights –guarantees the right to live and work anywhere in Canada
  • Legal rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, to be free from unreasonable search or seizure, access to a lawyer if you are arrested; and to be presumed innocent
  • Equality rights –ensures equal benefit and protection of the law without discrimination based on personal traits such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability

The Charter is intended to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. If a court decides that a law, or part of a law, violates the Charter, that law, or that part of the law, is not valid.

The Charter applies only to violations of rights that are caused by government. So before you can claim the Charter’s protection, you must show that your rights were denied by government or some agency very closely connected to government.

Charter rights are not absolute. If a court finds a government has denied your rights, the court must then decide if the government had a good reason to deny the rights. The court must decide whether the denial of a Charter right is reasonable and justified in a free and democratic society. To do that, the court looks at whether the government has an important purpose in denying your right.