O Canada!

What is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one part of the Canadian Constitution. The Constitution is a set of laws containing the basic rules about how our country operates. For example, it contains the powers of the federal government and those of the provincial governments in Canada.

The Charter sets out those rights and freedoms that Canadians believe are necessary in a free and democratic society. Some of the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter are:

  • freedom of expression the right to a democratic government
  • the right to live and to seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • legal rights of persons accused of crimes
    Aboriginal peoples’ rights
  • the right to equality, including the equality of men and women
  • the right to use either of Canada’s official languages
  • the right of French and English linguistic minorities to an education in their language
  • the protection of Canada’s multicultural heritage.

Before the Charter came into effect, other Canadian laws protected many of the rights and freedoms that are now brought together in it. One example is the Canadian Bill of Rights, which Parliament enacted in 1960. The Charter differs from these laws by being part of the Constitution of Canada.

Source: Canadian Heritage

What are my rights as a Canadian?

All Canadians enjoy certain rights based on Canada’s tradition of democracy and respect for human dignity and freedom. These rights are found in Canada’s Human Rights Codes and in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

All Canadians enjoy the following rights:

  • equality rights: equal treatment before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination
  • democratic rights: such as the right to participate in political activities, to vote and to be elected to political office
  • legal rights: such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to retain a lawyer and to be informed of that right, and the right to an interpreter in a court proceeding
  • mobility rights: such as the right to enter and leave Canada, and to move to and take up residence in any province
  • language rights: generally, the right to use either the English or French languages in communications with Canada’s federal government and certain of Canada’s provincial governments
  • minority language education rights: in general, French and English minorities in every province and territory have the right to be educated in their own language

All Canadians also enjoy fundamental freedoms of religion, thought, expression, peaceful assembly, and association.


O Canada!
Our home and native land
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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