Rights & Freedoms
Canada has a very long history in which the concept of rights and responsibilities have always been to the forefront. The law in Canada comes from a number of different traditions, including English common law, the French civil code, Great Britain’s unwritten constitution and of course the laws which the Canadian Parliament and provincial legislatures have passed.
The concept of liberty for Canadians goes back eight centuries to the signing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215 (sometimes called the Great Charter of Freedoms). Canadians are guaranteed that they can follow their conscience and religion, that they are free to think, believe, hold opinions and express themselves as they wish, enjoy a free press and free speech, freedom to gather together peacefully, and freedom to meet with whom they please.
English common law provides the Canadian people with the right of habeas corpus, meaning that nobody can be detained by the state without trial.
In 1982 Canada’s Constitution was revised to incorporate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This document begins:
“Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognise the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”
This shows us that Canada not only values its religious traditions but also human dignity and values.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms sums up all the rights and freedoms Canadians have gathered from their history and encompasses some new ones, including multiculturalism (Canadians should always respect those from cultures different to themselves and live harmoniously with others), language rights (French and English have the same status in every branch of government), rights of Aboriginal people (none of the rights granted to Canadians can have a negative impact on any treaties or other freedoms and rights for Canada’s aboriginal people), and mobility rights (Canadians are free to live and work anywhere in Canada they choose, be granted a passport, and allowed to travel abroad without hindrance).