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Legal and Equality Rights

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Demonstrably Justified Reasonable Limit

Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes an overarching limit to the protections set out in the sections that follow it. In the pivotal 1986 R. v. Oakes case, the Supreme Court of Canada established the test that must be met to prove that a limit is demonstrably justified and reasonable under section 1. It has come to be known as the “Oakes test”.

Section 1 states that:

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Life, Liberty and Security of the Person

Section 7 is the first of the protections set out under the Legal Rights of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 states that:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Unreasonable Search and Seizure 

Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that:

“Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”

Arbitrary Detention and Imprisonment 

Section 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that:

“Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.”

Section 10 states that:

“Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;

(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and

(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.”

Section 11 states that:

“Any person charged with an offence has the right

(a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;

(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;

(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;

(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

(e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;

(f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;

(g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;

(h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and

(i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.”

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that:

“Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.”

Right to Equal Protection and Benefit of the Law

The Equality Rights of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are found under s. 15, which states:

15(1) Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

15(2) Affirmative action programs
Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

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