Lesson 3: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


Activity 1: Overview of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Collect Handout 2: Learning About the Charter for marks.

Answer Key: Handout 2: Learning About the Charter

  1. Give 2 reasons why the freedom of expression is important to you as a grade 7 student.
    Answers may vary.
  1. Why is it important to have provincial and federal elections every 5 years?
    It gives voters a chance to elect a new government if they are unhappy with the policies of the present government.
  1. Name 3 types of legal rights.
    A right to a lawyer, the right to a fair trial, the right to remain silent when you are arrested.
  1. If there were no mobility rights, how might that affect your parents if they were looking for a job?
    They would not be able to apply for a job in another province.
  1. Name 3 minority language education rights.
    Children can be educated in French if their first language is French, if their parents received education in French and if there is another member of the family receiving their education in French.

True or False:

  1. You can be held under arrest for as long as the government wants.
    False. The Charter states that you must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of detention.
  1. Evidence obtained without a search warrant is not admissible in court.
    Generally true but must look at section 24 of the Charter.
  1. In a court of law, the accused has to prove he or she is innocent.
    False. The Crown has to prove the accused’s guilt.
  1. You must be read your Charter rights if you are arrested.
  1. Your freedoms are guaranteed as long as you don’t interfere with the freedoms of others.

Activity 3: Fundamental Freedoms in the Charter

Give participation marks for the students doing work in their groups.

Answer Key: Handout 3: Freedoms and Responsibilities

Part A: Instructions: Answer the following questions to the best of your ability.

  1. What freedoms do you have at school and in the classroom?
    Students will have a variety of answers but some may fall under their freedom to express their beliefs, freedoms to express their ideas in appropriate ways and freedom to be themselves.
  1. What is the definition of freedom?
    The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally-imposed restraints or actions.
  1. What are your responsibilities at school and in the classroom?
    Students will have a variety of answers but some may fall under the following: be on time to class, do all their homework, participate in class, not disrupt others, attend all classes or do well.
  1. What is the definition of responsibility?
    An obligation to consider right from wrong; something that is normally required to do.
  1. What is the connection between freedoms and responsibilities?
    The connection between freedoms and responsibilities is that you cannot have one without the other. For example, I have the freedom to practice the religion I want, but it is my responsibility to accept and protect the rights of others to practice their religious beliefs.

Part B: Instructions: Using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom chart, answer the following questions.

  1. What do you feel are the most important freedoms for Canadians and why?
    These answers are going to be dependent on students’ answers. Remember to evaluate them by looking at the response  does it exist in the Charter and do they explain why they choose those freedoms?
  1. What other freedoms would you add to the Charter and why?
    This response again will be dependent on students’ opinions. Remember to evaluate answers by looking at their appropriateness and the explanations as to why the students have chosen these new freedoms.
  1. In your groups, using the Charter chart, identify the fundamental freedoms.
    When you have identified the fundamental freedoms, come up with two responsibilities required of Canadian citizens for each fundamental freedom.
  • Freedom of conscience and religion: Protect others beliefs, defend other peoples’ rights to believe what they do, do not try to convert others to my beliefs, open-mindedness.
  • Freedom of thought, belief and expression: I can say what I want as long as I am not offending anyone’s culture, heritage, ethnicity or religion, defend against intolerant speech or actions, call people on their mean or inappropriate comments and how they affect others.
  • Freedom of peaceful assembly: I can protest but I must do so peacefully without riots or violence.
  • Freedom of association: I can belong to any groups as long as it does not discriminate or is offensive to others gender, religion, heritage or culture.
  1. Why is it important to maintain and protect the rights and responsibilities associated with the fundamental freedoms in our Charter?
    It is important to maintain and protect the freedoms and responsibilities because they protect all of us from ill treatment, inequality and allow us to not be taken over by a corrupt government that may imprison us for our beliefs, ideas or the groups we associate with. They protect against corrupt governments or people.


Answer Key: Handout 5: Enrichment Case Study 1

  1. Was the Crown justified in accusing Keegstra of hate crimes under the Criminal Code or did doing so violate his freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
    You will have a variety of answers for this question. The law was right in violating Keegstra’s freedom of speech and expression because his actions were violating the rights of others.
  1. Should freedom of expression be limitless? Why or why not?
    It should only be limitless to the point that it does not hurt or damage others or infringe on other people’s rights in society.
  1. Was Keegstra justified in spouting hate about Jews to his class and penalizing students who did not repeat his teaching if he truly believed what he said? Why or why not? Do you think he was justified in going to court to have the charges quashed because his rights had been violated?
    You will have a variety of answers for this question. Keegstra has the right under section 2(b) under the Charter but he does not have the right to punish others who do not believe his view point – especially children. He is in a position of authority and is abusing that authority to push his own agenda and goals. He was justified in trying to quash the charge under the Charter but again his freedom of expression and speech was infringing on other rights and freedoms.

Answer Key: Handout 6: Enrichment Case Study 2

  1. Do you believe that the CFS and the BCTF were right in taking the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority to court for breaching s 2(b) freedom of expression by not putting their political ads on the sides of buses?
    You may get a variety of answers on this question. Those who say yes might say that the organizations were having their fundamental freedom to express their views restricted and that the Transit authority was not allowing them to express them. Some would also say that because the Transit authority is part of the “government” then freedom of speech was being violated as the government did not want these views expressed to the public. These views as expressed by the BCTF and CFS are not inappropriate or against any specific group. Those against the BCTF and CFS might say that transit buses are no place to express political views. Many people take buses because they have no other choice and should not be forced to look at and read other people’s political views. There are other places for political expression around the city.
  1. Why did the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority not put the BCTF’s advertisements on the buses (Hint: look at their policy)?
    Their policy states that they cannot accept any advertisements that may go against communities’ beliefs, be offensive to people or cause any controversy.
    They also have a policy that they cannot put up anything related to political issues, points-of-view or information on political meetings.
  1. What reason was given by the one judge that did not vote with the majority at the Court of Appeal for BC to grant the BCTF’s and CFS’s claims that the Charter had been violated?
    Political views should not be protected under the Charter especially if they are printed on the side of what is seen as a neutral arena, in this case buses. The judge’s argument was that many people are forced to take public transportation as their only means of getting around Vancouver and that they should not be forced to see political expression.
  1. Why do you think that the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority eventually went to the Supreme Court of Canada?
    The Greater Vancouver Transit Authority took the CFS and the BCTF to Supreme Court because they did not like the ruling made by the Court of Appeal for BC.
  1. Why was the ruling by the Supreme Court so important when it comes to Charter cases and freedom of expression cases?
    This is an important decision because it found that political expression as long as it is not offensive is protected under the Charter under s 2(b).

Answer Key: Handout 7: Enrichment Case Study 3

  1. Was the government justified in taking the child away from the parents, thus violating the Charter to protect the child? (The courts violated section 2(a) but because of section 1 of the Charter. Look at the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under section 1 to help answer the question) Explain your answer.
    There will be a variety of answers for this question. The government was justified in that it was trying to save the life of the child under section 1 of the Charter. But it did violate the parent’s rights to their religious faith as set out by section 2 of the Charter. This poses a lot of problems in the law because it is not just black and white. Some aspects of the Charter contradict one another and do go against some aspects of the Criminal Code as well.
  1. Should the fundamental freedom of religion be limitless? Explain your answer.
    You will have diverse answers to this question dependent on the students’ beliefs about freedom of religion. It should be limitless to the point that it does not infringe on other peoples’ freedom to live under our constitution.
  1. Should the government be allowed to restrict our fundamental freedoms if a life is at stake? Explain your answer.
    You will have diverse answers to this question. Yes, they should be able to restrict individuals’ rights for the collective whole and for the life of others who may be at risk. We cannot put one person’s rights before another’s.