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Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms

What is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out those rights and freedoms that Canadians believe are necessary in a free and democratic society.

The Charter is one part of the Canadian Constitution. The Constitution is a set of laws containing the basic rules about how our country operates. For example, it states the powers of the federal, and provincial and territorial governments in Canada.

How does the Charter work with other Canadian laws?

The Constitution is the supreme law of Canada; all other laws must be consistent with the rules set out in it. If they are not, they may not be valid. Since the Charter is part of the Constitution, it is the most important law we have in Canada.

However, the rights and freedoms in the Charter are not absolute. They can be limited to protect other rights or important national values. For example, freedom of expression may be limited by laws against hate propaganda or child pornography. Section 1 of the Charter says that Charter rights can be limited by law so long as those limits can be shown to be reasonable in a free and democratic society.

Who does the Charter protect and what rights are protected?

Any person in Canada – whether they are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a newcomer – has the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter. There are some exceptions. For example, the Charter gives some rights only to Canadian citizens – such as the right to vote (section 3) and the right “to enter, remain in and leave Canada” (section 6).

Downloadable versions

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

You can download, save and print a copy of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Download the Charter now (PDF 512 KB)

A version in Braille Ready Format is also available to download from Justice Canada.

The legal text of the Charter is published online as Constitution Act, 1982.

Canadian Bill of Rights

You can download, save and print your copy of the content of the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Download the Bill of Rights now (PDF 2.32 MB)

The legal text of the Bill of Rights is published as Canadian Bill of Rights S.C. 1960, c 44, an Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.