Your rights and freedoms in Canada

In Canada, federal and provincial or territorial laws protect the:

  • freedom to express your beliefs and opinions (including through free press),
  • freedom to associate with anyone you wish and gather peacefully with other people,
  • freedom to practice religion,
  • right to live anywhere in Canada,
  • right to protection from unlawful or unjust arrest or detention by the government. In Canada, every person is equal before and under the law.
  • right to due legal process under Canadian law. This means that the government must respect all your rights under the law,
  • right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on:
    • race,
    • national or ethnic origin,
    • colour,
    • religion,
    • gender or sexual orientation,
    • age, or
    • mental or physical disability.
  • same rights for women and men, and
  • right to receive services from the federal government in either English or French.

Our laws protect all Canadians. All Canadians have the same access to:

  • education,
  • health care,
  • jobs,
  • housing,
  • social services, and
  • pensions.  

In 2005, Parliament passed a law that gave the right to civil marriage to same-sex couples. At the same time, the law protects religious freedom, so that no person or organization can be forced to act against their conscience, religion or beliefs in respect of marriage.

By living in Canada, you benefit from all the rights listed above and more. The Government of Canada encourages you to understand that these rights come with certain responsibilities, such as:

  • respecting Canada’s laws,
  • learning English or French or both languages,
  • working to take care of yourself and your family,
  • helping others in your community, and
  • protecting Canada’s heritage and natural environment.

Diversity and its limits

Canada has a long tradition of accepting:

  • linguistic differences,
  • cultural differences, and
  • religious differences.

The policy of Multiculturalism encourages Canadians to maintain those family and cultural traditions that are consistent with Canadian values, such as human dignity and equality before the law.

Equality of women and men

Women and men are equal in Canada. It is against the law to engage in:

  • spousal abuse,
  • honour killings,
  • female genital mutilation,
  • forced marriage, or
  • other gender-based violence.

The rights and duties of Canadian citizens

If you become a Canadian citizen, you will have the right to:

  • vote in elections,
  • be a candidate in elections,
  • apply for a Canadian passport, and
  • enter and leave the country freely.

You will also have the legal duty to serve on a jury if called to do so and the civic responsibility to vote in Canadian elections.

Defending Canada

In Canada, you do not have to serve in the military but you may choose it as a career. You may choose to work in:

You can also serve in local part-time navy, militia or air reserves and get valuable experience, skills and contacts. It is also possible to serve in the Coast Guard or emergency community services, such as a police force or fire department.

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