Lesson 2: Democracy, Rights and Responsibilities
What is a Democracy?
• A system of government in which power is retained by all
• In a democracy, citizens have access to power and they
also have guaranteed rights and freedoms.
• A form of government in which individuals are elected to
represent the people and pass laws.
• Most democracies are representative democracies.
• Canada is a parliamentary democracy, which is a type of
• Representation is based on specific geographic areas
called constituencies or electoral districts.
• Representatives are selected through elections.
What is a ‘right’?
• A right is an abstract idea of something that is due to a
person or governmental body by law or tradition or
• Rights are not as much granted or endowed as they are
fought for and claimed.
Rights and Freedoms in Canada
• In Canada, citizens’ rights and freedoms are protected by
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
• The Canadian Charter is a part of the Constitution Act,
signed by Queen Elizabeth in 1982. Pierre Trudeau was
then Prime Minister.
Seven Sections of the Charter
• The Canadian Charter contains seven sections that define
our rights as Canadians:
- fundamental rights
- democratic rights
- mobility rights
- legal rights
- equality rights
- official languages of Canada
- minority language education rights.
• Fundamental rights include freedom of conscience,
religion, thought, belief, expression and the freedom of the
press, among others.
• Democratic rights include the right for every Canadian
citizen, 18 years and older, to vote in an election and to be
a candidate in an election, as well as the requirement that
governments hold elections at least every five years and
that these governments meet at least every year.
Responsibilities in a Democracy
• A responsibility is a duty or obligation.
• It is the responsibility of all Canadians to respect and abide
by the rules set out by the Constitution in order to reap the
benefit of their protected rights.
• The right to vote comes with the responsibility to vote and
to make an informed decision.