What are my rights?
November 22, 2005 1:18 PM   Subscribe

What are my rights as a Canadian citizen living in Ontario in respect to police officers? Such as my rights to refuse search and following their orders, etc.

I've been reading stories such as this one and this one about police impersonation and/or abuse. There's a lot of heresay about an individual's rights when it comes to being told/asked to do something by the police, but I'd like to be more aware of my rights. I've looked at the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, however, the legalese is a bit daunting. Does anyone know where I can find a clear guide? Something similar to this UK reference?
posted by KathyK to Law & Government (9 answers total)
The wikipedia article on the charter contains the following links to the specific sections (in less legalese) that you're looking for:

Section 8: unreasonable search and seizure prohibited
Section 10: rights on arrest or detention

For an in-depth guide on the charter, I highly recommend The Human Rights Program from Canadian Heritage. It's inclusive, but tones down a lot of the legalese from the official document.
posted by purephase at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2005

Here is a FAQ from the TO Police and this guide [pdf] from the Windsor Police.

You might also want to look for guides about the Human Rights Act in Ontario since the OPP are provincial their behaviour will have to conform to Ontario's Human Rights Act as well.
posted by squeak at 2:50 PM on November 22, 2005

The Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) is a non-profit, non-government organization which exists to educate, inform and empower through law-related education. It's Saskatchewan based, but some of the information would be about federal law and would apply to you. It's somewhere to start, anyways.
posted by raedyn at 2:52 PM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: Guess What? We've Got Rights is the vancouver version of a montreal publication; something tells me there may be an ontario revision floating around as well. Best to cross-check, since (I think) the vagrancy stuff in the first section isn't the same in ontario. IANAL.

It's, um, a little strident, but I thought it would provide an interesting contrast to the official documents already suggested.

Also, a friend learned the hard way that while you don't have to identify yourself as a pedestrian if asked, you do as a cyclist. FYI.
posted by poweredbybeard at 4:26 PM on November 22, 2005

There was a recent supreme court decision about this. I can remember hearing Les Vandor talk about it on Ontario Today (CBC Radio), but I can't find a link.
posted by Chuckles at 5:29 PM on November 22, 2005

Incdentally, these would be your rights regardless of whether or not you were a citizen.
posted by duck at 6:49 PM on November 22, 2005

The BC Civil Liberties Association will send you a free copy of The Arrest Handbook. I'm sure most BC rights would apply in Ontario, although the OPP might be a bit more officious than the RCMP.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:59 PM on November 22, 2005

I think I have found the decision: R. v. Turcotte, Thomas. Here is an Alberta Government interpretation of the decision.
The court said at paragraph 51:

In general, absent a statutory requirement to the contrary, individuals have the right to choose whether to speak to the police, even if they are not detained or arrested. The common law right to silence exists at all times against the state, whether or not the person asserting it is within its power or control. Like the confessions rule, an accused's right to silence applies any time he or she interacts with a person in authority, whether detained or not. It is a right premised on an individual's freedom to choose the extent of his or her cooperation with the police, and is animated by a recognition of the potentially coercive impact of the state's authority and a concern that individuals not be required to incriminate themselves. These policy considerations exist both before and after arrest or detention. There is, as a result, no principled basis for failing to extend the common law right to silence to both periods.
posted by Chuckles at 8:49 AM on November 23, 2005

Their websites are pretty unhelpful, but you could probably contact the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre or the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to ask if they have pamphlets on your rights with the police or your rights as a photographer.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:38 AM on July 31, 2006

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