There is some overlap among the terms civil liberties, civil rights, HUMAN RIGHTS and fundamental freedoms and, in international law, civil and political rights. Traditionally civil liberties may be categorized into 4 kinds: the political civil liberties, the legal civil liberties, the egalitarian civil liberties and economic civil liberties.
The political civil liberties are called fundamental freedoms and include the freedoms of religion, expression (speech and press), assembly and association.
The legal civil liberties refer to rights afforded persons in contact with the criminal justice system and include due process of law, the principles of fundamental justice including prohibition of arbitrary arrest or detention, and unreasonable search or seizure; the rights to habeas corpus, retaining counsel, bail, presumption of innocence and a fair hearing; and the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment.
The egalitarian civil liberties refer to rights relating to equality and may be protected by legislation prohibiting discrimination by public and private officials against persons because of such grounds as their race, colour, creed, religion or national origin.
The economic civil liberties traditionally referred to those rights contemplated by the term civil rights in s.92(13) of the Constitution Act, described above.
Most of these categories (and many newer categories) have now been given constitutional recognition in the CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. Until the enactment of the Charter in the constitution, civil liberties in Canada were recognized by the courts on the basis of the common law and such UK constitutional principles as the rule of law.
Civil liberties reflect an essentially modern view of individuals and society but derive as well from older societies, such as those of Greece and Rome.
Author WALTER S. TARNOPOLSKY AND GERALD L. GALL
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Society
The official website of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Society.
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The official website of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
A detailed guide to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and related issues. From the Department of Canadian Heritage.
You and the law - Community Legal Information on the Web
An extensive listing of websites providing general legal information that may be of interest to Canadians. From University of Toronto’s Bora Laskin Law Library.
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP
The website for the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.
BC Civil Liberties Association
The website for the BC Civil Liberties Association. Their mandate is to preserve, defend, maintain and extend civil liberties and human rights in British Columbia and across Canada.
A quarterly Canadian magazine devoted to peacemaking, disarmament, conflict resolution, global stability, and related concerns. Offers online articles and letters from current and previous editions (from January 1983 to present). Also, the first Canadian magazine to be produced with desktop publishing software. From the Canadian Disarmament Information Service.