The Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms THE CANADIAN CONSTITUTION AND THE CHARTER • Charter was entrenched in the Constitution with the passage of the Constitution Act, 1982. • Governs the relationship between relationship between individuals and the government, ensuring that governments cannot pass laws or enact policies that infringe unfairly upon our rights and freedoms. • Prior to the Charter, there was no guarantee in Canada that rights and freedoms would not be taken away by legislation. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK15PdFa_FA RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS S. 2 - Fundamental Freedoms • Freedoms so basic and essential to the quality of life that they can only be infringed upon by government in the most dire of circumstances, or when their exercise threatens the fundamental freedoms of others. • This section protects: Freedom of conscience and religion; Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression; Freedom of peaceful assembly; and Freedom of association for everyone. DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (SS.3-5) • Set out rights and provisions concerning the Canadian political process and the exercise of democracy for Canadian citizens. These include: • right of citizens to vote and run for government office; • 5 year maximum term for government; • meeting times of legislature (within 12 month period) MOBILITY RIGHTS (S.6) • Mobility rights provide Canadian citizens the right to be in, and move within, Canada. These include the right to: Travel in any province or territory; Work in any province or territory; and Enter, remain in, and leave Canada. • Note that while the latter applies only to Canadian citizens, the provisions for travelling and working in Canada also apply to permanent residents. • Exceptions ~ professional employment standards (eg lawyer) LEGAL RIGHTS Ss.7-14) • Legal rights refer to the ways in which persons in Canada are protected in encounters with the justice system. E.G. everyone has the right: To life, liberty and security of the person; To be secure against unreasonable search or seizure; To not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned; To retain and instruct a lawyer to represent them in justice proceedings; To have a trial within a reasonable time period; To be innocent until proven guilty; To not be subjected to any cruel or unusual treatment or punishment. EQUALITY RIGHTS (S.15) • Ensures equal benefit before and under the law. • Includes groups which were originally included in this section (‘enumerated grounds’), as well as others that have since been added by the courts (‘analogous grounds’). • Enumerated grounds include criteria such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age and mental or physical disability. • Analogous grounds currently include the areas of sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, aboriginalityresidence. LANGUAGE & EDUCATION RIGHTS (S.s.16-22) • Guarantee the use of both English and French in federal government institutions • special provisions relating to the use of both official languages in New Brunswick • Provides right for children to receive primary and secondary educational instruction in English or French - even if they are a linguistic minority in their community. (paid for by public funds) ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS & FREEDOMS S.24 Allows parties to bring forward a claim to the courts when they feel their rights are being violated; and S.52 States that the Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the land, meaning that “any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect”. TO WHOM DOES THE CHARTER APPLY? • Applies in different capacities to ‘individuals’ ‘citizens’, and ‘persons’. An ‘individual’ is any human being in Canada. A ‘citizen’ is an individual whose nationality is Canadian, whether by birth or through naturalization. A ‘person’ is a human or a corporation in Canada. • The rights and freedoms protected in the Charter do NOT apply equally to all persons. Democratic Rights / Freedom of Religion Corporations = ‘persons’ under the Charter and have protected fundamental freedoms. BUT equality rights are only granted to ‘individuals’ NOT corporations.