April 29

Law 30 08.1 The Charter – Summaries & Cases

To understand the rights and freedoms developed within the Charter document, you’ll read through an explanation of each important section, summarize the important parts of it, and summarize a Charter case related to that section.

The Canadian Charter of Rights is more than three decades old already and our understanding and application of its rights and freedoms have been interpreted in many ways by significant legal cases and challenges.

It is one of the most widely misunderstood elements of our political and legal system in Canada, though, so it’s is important to get a clear/correct understanding of what it offers and doesn’t offer Canadians. 

2.1 Introduction: Summary of the Charter overall

2.2 a Reasonable Limits and Notwithstanding Clause: Summaries of each

Reasonable Limits

Notwithstanding Clause


2.2 b R. v. Oakes 1986 Summary and Significance

2.2 c Notwithstanding Clause Uses: list the times governments have implemented this clause. (Remember, this clause was added at the last minute to satisfy provincial leaders’ concerns, to ensure Federal government and courts didn’t hold too much power over provinces.)

2.3 Fundamental Freedoms: 

a. Freedom of Conscience and Religion: Summary and Case summaries

b. Freedom of Thought, Belief, Opinion, and Expression: Summary and Case summaries

c. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly: Summary and Case summaries

d. Freedom of Association: Summary and Case summaries


2.4 Democratic and Mobility Rights: Summary and Case summaries

Democratic Rights

Mobility Rights

2.5 Legal Rights: Summaries and Case Summaries

a. Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person

b. Search and Seizure Laws

c. Detention and Arrest

d. Rights on Being Charged with an Offence

e. Cruel and Unusual Treatment or Punishment

f. Self-incrimination and Interpreter Rights


Cases to consider: reasonable limitations of a right – precedent set cases

  • Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University and Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada
    A Christian law school wanted to prohibit students who practiced homosexuality. Their status as a school of law was challenged because they were violating Charter rights.
  • Frank v. Canada (Attorney General)
    Federal election laws prohibit someone from voting if they’ve lived outside of Canada for 5 years. The law was challenged and found to violate Charter rights.
  • R. v. Mills (2019)
    A man contacted a 14 yr old girl and had communications with her, telling her he was 23 though he was 32. He didn’t realize it was police behind the account and they collected data from the conversations. He asked to meet the “pretend” girl and when arriving was arrested for child luring. He argued police violated his right to expectation of privacy by creating the account and collecting copies of it. The judge disagreed saying there’s no expectation of privacy in conversations with a child you do not know online. Sets precedent related to right of privacy through digital communications.
  • R. v. Bird (2019)
    A man with over 60 convictions was deemed a high risk to reoffend, so after being released from prison new conditions were placed on him. He wasn’t allowed to return to his home community, where he was thought to be a danger, and instead ordered to stay at a halfway house in Regina. He initially stayed there, but eventually just left it without permission, violating the terms of his release. He claimed the restrictions on his release violated his rights to liberty (freedom). The courts decided it was a reasonable limitation on his right to liberty, because Parliament (through laws) allowed for ways of an offender to challenge a similar order, rather than simply violate it.
  • R. v. Calnen (2019)
    A man was questioned in the murder of his partner. He eventually admitted she’d died after an argument/altercation with him, but he was doing drugs so was scared to inform police. An accidental murder is a manslaughter charge, but investigations found several efforts on his part to hide his crime – moving the body, burning parts and relocating it several times, etc. These additional efforts to hide the details of the crime can now legally be used to infer/as evidence of intent meaning it raises the possible criminal charge from manslaughter to second degree murder. Precedent setting that behaviour after a crime can be used to determine intention of the crime before the act.
  • R. v Jones (2017)
    A man exchanged text messages with someone about firearms and drug exchanges. Part of the evidence used against him were the text messages obtained by a production order (warrant of sorts). He claimed his right to privacy was violated and argued for that evidence to be excluded. Court case determined text message data is kept by a telecommunications company and can be legally compelled to provide that data. His right was not violated because the message data was lawfully obtained.
  • R. v. Reeves (2018)
    A man was convicted of possession of child pornography, but he/his lawyer challenged that the evidence was unlawfully obtained. Police approached the home and the man’s wife who he lived with let them into the home and let them collect the computer. Police kept the pc for 4 months before obtaining a warrant to search it, on which they found a large collection of child pornography images and files. In appeal, though, the courts agreed that a 3rd party cannot give consent to a search, so it was a charter violation of the man’s rights. The conviction and appeal that upheld it were overruled.


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April 16

Law 30 08.1 The Charter – Summaries & Cases

Looking at the different sections of the Charter, use either the Text for support or online sources to develop a clear summary of the rights/freedoms protected within each of the sections as well as a collection of Cases that have been tried in the court system to test the limits of each section.

Textbook Chapter – pdf – it’s been emailed to you through your Sunwest email

Websites useful in Charter Case Studies:


Extension Questions: Questions we have from our discussionImage result for discussion icon png

  1. The court is meant to balance against government abusing power to create new legislation. What if the courts aren’t balanced either ideologically and decisions are made leaning towards whoever was able to add judges to the bench?


Question to answer in your Comment: What understanding do you have now of Canada’s Supreme Court make up and whether it could be used by a government to predict decisions, as it often is in the States. In your opinion, can we trust the balance the courts offer against government power?

April 9

Law 30 07 Changing the Constitution – The Why

As Canada developed further as a country, it grew in population and diversity. Eventually, it was believed that protections needed to be included in the Constitution level of law to protect that diversity – thus the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Resources to Support Learning for This Section:

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April 5

07 Protections from Judicial Pressure – Documentary

The general public likely has nothing to fear within the judicial system, but it would be naive to believe only guilty people are convicted of crimes. There are many examples of individuals found guilty of serious offences, including murder, serving a number of years in prison, only later to be exonerated and their convictions erased, because of new evidence revealed. Andy Rose is one such individual.

“Someone Got Away With Murder” Fifth Estate Documentary – how far can police go in pressuring a suspect to gain evidence to use against them in a trial? And at what cost?

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