The most visible and recognized part of the Canadian Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guarantees the rights of individuals by enshrining those rights, and certain limits on them, in the highest law of the land. Since its enactment in 1982, the Charter has created a social and legal revolution in Canada, expanding the rights of minorities, transforming the nature of criminal investigations and prosecutions, and subjecting the will of Parliament and the legislatures to judicial scrutiny—an ongoing source of controversy.
It is difficult to make generalizations about definitions of Indigenous rights because of the diversity among First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. Broadly speaking, however, Indigenous rights are inherent, collective rights that flow from the original occupation of the land that is now Canada, and from social orders created before the arrival of Europeans to North America. For many, the concept of Indigenous rights can be summed up as the right to independence through self-determination regarding governance, land, resources and culture.1
The term “Lost Canadians” refers to people who either lost the Canadian citizenship they had at birth, or didn’t qualify for citizenship that would normally have been theirs by right in Canada. This was the result of various haphazard and discriminatory laws and attitudes surrounding Canadian citizenship since Confederation. Much progress has been made reforming the law in the 21st century, however, some Lost Canadians still remained without citizenship as of 2017.3
A common-law union occurs when two people live together in a conjugal relationship, generally for at least a year (or more depending on the province in which they reside). Common-law couples in Canada have many of the same legal, parental and financial rights and obligations as married couples.
In Canada, political and law-making power is shared by the provincial and federal levels of government, as set out in the constitution. Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the provincial governments the exclusive jurisdiction to make laws governing education.
The Rand Formula is a feature of Canadian labour law requiring workers covered by collective bargaining contracts to pay union dues — whether or not those workers are union members. The Formula was a victory for unions struggling for recognition and security after the Second World War, and became a standard part of labour contracts, and union power, in the decades that followed.
Assisted suicide is the intentional termination of one’s life, assisted by someone who provides the means or knowledge, or both (see also Suicide). Between 1892 and 2016, assisted suicide was illegal in Canada under section 241(b) of the Criminal Code. In 2015, after decades of various legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously to allow physician-assisted suicide. In June 2016, the federal government passed the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act, which established the eligibility criteria and procedural safeguards for medically assisted suicide.
The history of Black Canadian voting rights is marked by contrasting shifts. Enslaved during the period 1600–1834, Black persons could not vote. Emancipated, they were entitled to the rights, freedoms and privileges enjoyed by British subjects, including the franchise; however, racial discrimination did at times impede Black Canadians’ right to vote. The rights and freedoms of Black women were further restricted by virtue of their sex.
The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages.
Maritime Rights was a regional protest that climaxed in the 1920s. Essentially a reform movement, it was triggered by the region's declining influence in CONFEDERATION and its inability to protect important interests in transportation, tariffs, port development and federal subsidies.