Canadian Charter Of Rights


Canadian Charter Of Rights Essay, Research Paper

Canadian Charter of Rights


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one

of the most important ingredients of the Canadian

Constitution. By having the Charter entrenched in the

Constitution there is an added sense of security, because

every level of government must act within its constraints.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has dynamically

transformed the face of Canada by ensuring that no-one

persons rights are infringed without justification.

Fundamental Freedoms:

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees

certain basic fundamental freedoms to every individual that

lives in Canada. As long as you reside in Canada you are

protected from persecution. These freedoms are set out in

the Charter to ensure that Canadians are free to create and

to express their ideas, gather to discuss them and

communicate them widely to other people. (Minister of

Public Works and Government Services Canada pg.6) Although

Canadians enjoy these fundamental freedoms they are not

absolute, they are often qualified or limited to protect

the rights of others. (Minister of Supply and Services

Canada pg.5)

No individual has the right to interfere with the

rights of another. This concept seems basic enough, but it

has been the center of debate for a significant amount of

time. The question arises what is more important individual

rights or collective rights? There is no easy answer to

this question, but the Charter makes an attempt to

reconcile this debate by making everyone under its

jurisdiction equal under the eyes of the law.

By making everyone equal the Charter has basically

released the tension between different classes.

Theoretically speaking no-one province has more power than

another, there is an attempt on the behalf of the charter

to solve disputes among provinces. Treating all the same

regardless of wealth and status is a fundamental ingredient

for national unity.

Democratic Rights:

The Democratic rights stated in the Charter of

rights and Freedoms guarantee that Canadians have a free

democratic government. The Charter allows all citizens the

right to be involved in an election of their government. It

gives them the right to vote in Federal, Provincial or

Territorial elections, along with the right to run for

public office themselves. (Minister of Public Works and

Government Services Canada pg.6)

The Charter is said to serve as a check between the

people and the government. It gives accountability to the

government for their actions. If the government does

something that we as a whole find undemocratic we have the

right to take the government to the Supreme Court.

Therefore in a sense the Charter enhances our freedoms and

secures our liberty. (Bryden and others pg 39)

Legal Rights:

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is aimed at

maintaining equality among all individuals. It ensures that

those that have power act in the best possible manner in

order to maintain orderly and peaceful society. The Charter

provides a general framework (Minister of Supply and

Services Canada pg.5) for legal enforcement. There are

strict steps that must be taken prior and during any legal

proceeding. If even one step is overlooked, then the

proceeding may be deemed unconstitutional. It has often

been said that the Charter gives those who come under

police surveillance or are charged with a criminal offence

an extra line of defence. (Bryden and others pg 39) In a

broad sense this statement can be justified, but we must

not forget that the police themselves must be policed.

Without the Charter there would be no real method of

investigating those who would normally be investigating


Equality Rights:

The Charter makes it relatively clear that every

individual in Canada is considered equal in all rights,

regardless of race, religion, colour, national or ethnic

origin, sex, age or mental disability. (Canadian Council On

Social Development pg. 12) Simply put, no one person or

group of people may be discriminated against. Not only does

the Charter prevent discrimination but it also gives

special rights that favour those who are disadvantaged in

some way or another.

It has bee argued that by favouring those that are

disadvantaged the government itself is acting in a

discriminatory manor. There are two viewpoints on this

subject, first the government is discriminating against the

rest of society by giving special privileges to certain

individuals. The second viewpoint follows the same train of

thought as the first just that it takes into consideration

that if the government did not help these people no one


Official Languages of Canada:

Since Canada was founded by both the French and the

British it only makes sense that it would have two

official languages. The charter affirms that both the

French and English languages are spoken in all federal

institutions. Every citizen has the right to walk into any

Federal building and be spoken to in both French and

English. Furthermore all Federal documents must be printed

in both French and English. Every one has the right to used

both French or English in any court established by

Parliament. (Minister of Public Works and Government

Services Canada pg. 13) By maintaining both French and

English as the two official languages the Charter is making

an attempt in reconciling the differences between Quebec

and the rest of Canada.

Minority Language Educational Rights:

Everyone in Canada has the right to be educated in

either of the two official languages. If the parent of a

child wishes to educate his/her child in French, he/she

must be accommodated. By making both French and English

accessible to all the bridges of communication have been

drastically reduced.

Enforcement of the Charter:

If an individual feels that his/her right have been

violated in any manor they have the right to go to court

and ask for an immediate remedy. It is up to the individual

to demonstrate that his/her rights have been violated. If

the court decides in favor of the citizen then it is up to

the government to demonstrate that the violation of his/her

rights is justified. (Hiebert pg. 31)

General Rights and Application of the Charter:

The Constitution recognizes the rights of the

Aboriginal people. This recognition is to protect their

culture, customs and traditions. Section 25 of the Charter

makes it clear that no part of the Charter is to interfere

with the rights of the Native People. (Minister of Public

Works and Government Services Canada pg. 15-16) The

Charter of Rights and Freedoms is applicable only to

governments, it is not applicable to private individuals

and other business organizations. The charter is simply a

method of resolving disputes between the people and the

government. (Hiebert pg. 36)

Limiting Rights:

Although the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

advocates the protection of rights, it also advocates the

infringement of others. If an individual is involved in

activities that can be viewed as hurtful to others the

government has the right to prevent that individual from

continuing his/her actions. An example would be hate

literature, you have the right to read and write what you

please, so long as it does not interfere with the right of


Impacts of the Charter:

The Charter has had a tremendous impact on our

political system. The government can not make a move

without being closely monitored. This has led to many

changes in our public policy. The Charter’s impact on civic

consciousness is probably more significant than any of its

more direct effects on public policy. (Bryden and others pg

34) The Charter has managed to unite the country, and to

make everyone the same. The Charter has removed the

animosity that once existed between different people,

Making Canada a strong United country.


The purpose of the Charter is to acknowledge the

personal freedoms of a Canadian citizen, as said in Section

1. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that any

person living in Canada can live without persecution. Any

law that contradicts the freedoms stated, can be challenged

in the Supreme Court of Canada. Although the Charter gives

us guaranteed freedoms, it is important to remember that

there are reasonable limits to every freedom.


Bryden, Philip., Davis, Steven., Russel, John.

Protecting Rights & Freedoms. Toronto: University of

Toronto Press, 1994.

Canadian Council On Social Development. A Guide To

The Charter. Ottawa: Canadian Council On Social

Development, 1988.

Hiebert, Janet L. Limiting Rights. London: McGill-Queen’s

University Press, 1996.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Canada. Your Guide To The Canadian Charter Of Rights

And Freedoms. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and

Government Services Canada, 1997.

Minister of Supply and Services Canada. The Charter

of Rights and Freedoms. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and

Services Canada, 1987.

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