Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) is one part of Canada's Constitution Act. The Charter came into effect on April 17, 1982. The Charter is a set of laws containing the basic rules about how our country operates. It describes the powers of the federal government and provincial governments in Canada. It sets out the rights and freedoms that Canadians believe are necessary in a free and democratic society. Some of the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter are:

  • freedom of expression
  • the right to a democratic government
  • the right to live and to seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • legal rights of persons accused of crimes
  • the rights of Aboriginal peoples
  • the right to equality, including the equality of men and women
  • the right to use either of Canada's official languages
  • the right of English and French linguistic minorities to an education in their language
  • the protection of Canada's multicultural heritage

The rights and freedoms set out in the Charter are not absolute. For example, freedom of expression under the Charter may be limited by laws against hate propaganda or pornography.

The equality rights in the Charter read:

"Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

The Charter only applies to the acts and conduct of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Reviewed: January 27, 2010


The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.

Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to inquiries about specific situations by email. Please call the Commission's Confidential Inquiry Line if you have a specific question.

You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.

The Commission will make publications available in accessible formats upon request for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.