“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
– Audre Lorde
THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) was enacted in 1982 and acts as a “bill of rights” for individuals. The Charter primarily protects certain civil liberties from interference and violation by the Canadian Government and its institutions. However, these rights are not absolute, and the Charter does allow for interference and violations of civil liberties in certain justified circumstances. Courts make this determination on a case by case basis in the Courts. Charter cases are often very complicated and involve a delicate balancing of the rights and civil liberties of citizens against the needs of the Canadian State.
BROAD EXPANSE OF CHARTER RIGHTS
There are many rights protected under the Charter, and some are context specific. For example, Charter protections to do with fair trials are specific to the criminal courts or state charges against individuals. Also, the Charter protects the right to equality under the law for all people, but also allows for the governments to provide programs and services specific to certain groups of people and not to others. The Charter has been used in the Canadian justice system to:
- protect voting rights of incarcerated people;
- protect from hate speech and prosecute those who incite violence against identifiable groups;
- defend the equality of genders and sexes;
- advance the rights and interests of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals;
- limit the powers of law enforcement to act without procedural fairness; and
- ensure fair process when claiming refugee status.
There are many examples of Charter cases that have protected civil liberties and individual freedoms in Canada. Even if a particular use of a Charter right has not been tested before the Canadian justice system, creative arguments based on Charter rights can be advanced to protect your rights. If you think that your Charter rights have been infringed or violated, contact our lawyers about possible solutions.
Westaway Law Group is passionate about Charter rights. We are prepared to help defend your many Charter rights, including but not limited to:
• freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, age, disability, sex, gender, and gender-expression;
• equality under the law;
• access to justice;
• prisoner’s rights;
• civil liberties in the criminal context; and
• freedom of speech.
The lawyers at Westaway Law Group have been involved in different way in Charter challenges. Some examples include R v Kapp, Ewert v Canada, Canada (Canadian Human Rights Tribunal) v Canada (Attorney General), and Vriend v Alberta.
If you have questions about your Charter rights or if you believe your Charter rights have been violated, contact us to discuss your options.