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Lesson 2: Democratic Rights and Responsibilities.

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1 Lesson 2: Democratic Rights and Responsibilities

2 Canada’s Democracy Canada’s population is too large for everyone to decide on all matters, so we vote for representatives to make decisions and pass laws on our behalf. This is called a representative democracy. Elections are the process by which those elected representatives are chosen. They occur when choosing our federal, provincial, and municipal governments, and local school boards.

3 What is a ‘right’? In Canada, all citizens have guaranteed rights and freedoms. A right is a freedom that is protected. Rights are not usually provided automatically, they are usually fought for and claimed. Examples: the right to express yourself, freedom of religion.

4 Discussion Have you ever had to fight for a right? Were you successful?

5 Rights and Freedoms in Canada The Canadian Bill of Rights (1960) was the first written expression of human rights law at the national level. Our rights and freedoms are now protected at both the provincial and national level by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a part of the Constitution Act, 1982, that was signed by Queen Elizabeth II.

6 Seven Sections of the Charter The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has seven sections that define our rights as Canadians: Fundamental freedoms Democratic rights Mobility rights Legal rights Equality rights Official languages of Canada Minority language education rights

7 Fundamental Freedoms freedom of religion freedom of thought freedom of expression freedom of the press freedom of peaceful assembly freedom of association

8 Democratic Rights Every Canadian citizen, 18 years and older, has the right to vote in an election and to be a candidate in an election if they choose to be. It also includes the requirement that governments hold elections at least every five years.

9 Universal Suffrage The right to vote has been fought for by various groups throughout our history. Initially, only men who owned property could vote. After much campaigning by men and women who thought this was unfair, women received the right to vote provincially in 1917 and federally in The last of the limits for various ethnic groups were not removed until 1960.

10 What is a ‘responsibility’? A responsibility is a duty or obligation. It is something you should do to show that you respect your rights. What consequences must you deal with if you do not respect your responsibilities? Example: your right to an education comes with the responsibility to show up to school prepared and on time.

11 Responsibilities in a Democracy It is the responsibility of all Canadians to respect and abide by the rules set out by the Constitution in order to benefit from their protected rights. The right to vote comes with the responsibility to vote and to make an informed decision.

12 Final Thoughts Electoral participation in Canada is declining at all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal). On average, less than 50% of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2010 municipal elections across the province. Is the decline in voting disrespectful to those that had to fight for their right to vote? Is democracy working if the majority of citizens do not vote?


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