The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 7

Section 7 of the Charter reads: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Section 7 protects three rights: the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to security of the person. Section 7 has an ingrained protection for that rights in that they can only be deprived in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. These rights apply to “everyone” which applies to all people within Canada, not simply citizens.

The right to life is the right to be alive. This portion of section was mostly recently discussed in Carter v Canada (AG), 2015 SCC 5, where the Supreme Court held that the criminal code provisions surrounding assisted dying were unconstitutional as they violated section 7 of the Charter. The Court struck down the provision in the Criminal Code. Canadian adults who are mentally competent and suffering intolerably and enduringly now have the right to a doctor’s assistance in dying.

The right to liberty is a protection of your right to act without physical restraint, as well as the right to make inherently private choices. The right to be without physical restraint would apply to imprisonment or the threat of imprisonment, The Supreme Court defined the second portion of this right, in R v Clay, 2003 SCC 75, as “touching the core of what it means to be an autonomous human being blessed with dignity and independence in matters that can be characterized as fundamentally or inherently personal.”

The right to security of the person has both a physical and psychological aspect. It protects against physical punishment and torture. It protects a person’s right to control his/her own bodily integrity. First, the Court must determine two things when considering whether there has been a breach of section 7. Is there an infringement of one of the three (3) protected interests, that is to say a deprivation of life, liberty or security of the person? And second, is the deprivation in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice?


Carter v Canada (AG), 2015 SCC 5 –

R v Clay, 2003 SCC 75 –


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