why do we have laws in canada

Every day, we hear about social issues, medical developments, and new types of technology. All of these raise moral and legal questions. These kinds of changes mean we need to constantly reform our laws so we can make sure that our system of law and justice meets the challenges of our society. As our society grows and develops, it cannot rely entirely on tradition. Sometimes new laws are needed or old laws need to be changed. As people change the way they live and work, some laws may become obsolete. Or new situations may arise that no existing law deals with. For example, old laws against theft did not foresee identity theft or online harassment. The same technology that enables one person to find information about another also makes it possible to steal information that was meant to be private. More than just changing laws, we may need to change the system of law and justice itself. For instance, in our complex society it can take years to settle disputes. As our court system is stretched to the limit, other, less formal ways may help people settle their disputes. Some informal mediation methods, such as in landlord-tenant disputes, are already being used. We may even need to change the system of law and justice itself. In our court system, it can take years to settle disputes. People can settle disputes by using less formal methods. Some informal mediation methods, such as
and landlord-tenant disputes, are already being used. Aboriginal customs and traditions have also contributed to new ways of dealing with people, such as healing and sentencing circles, community justice, and restorative justice. The is a way of diverting low-risk non-violent offenders from mainstream justice to. As a result, offenders don't get a criminal record, they can instead make amends to their community, and funds and resources are freed up to deal with more serious offences. to help decrease the rates of victimization, crime, and imprisonment among Aboriginal people; to reflect and include Aboriginal values within the justice system.


Government legal experts are constantly examining our laws and looking for ways to improve them. Law reform committees also review laws and recommend changes. Lawyers bring questions of law to court to create change. Social action groups seek changes to laws that they consider unfair to members of Canadian society. Industry groups and other stakeholders meet with government decision makers in an effort to present their opinions on the direction of public policy. Legislators in the federal, provincial, and territorial governments respond by introducing new laws or changing old ones. Ultimately, though, it is the people of Canada who elect the lawmakers. We as Canadians need to decide what we want from the law and then make sure it reflects those wishes. Everyone has the right to work toward changing the law. Canada s laws involve us every day because they tell us how we should behave towards each other. People have certain responsibilities when they live in Canada. They must: Respect the rights of other people, even if they believe different things People who live in Canada also have certain rights that are protected by a law called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter ). Some of these rights and freedoms are: If they are charged with a criminal offence, they will get a fair trial and are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty They will be treated equally under the law, without discrimination. This means that they cannot be discriminated against because of their age, their sex, the place they were born, their religion, their sexual orientation (like gay, bisexual, or straight), their marital status (single, married or living together), or if they have a mental or physical disability The Charter is very important in criminal law.


It affects all areas of criminal law, like how the police investigate a crime, making sure the trial is fair, and giving reasonable sentences. Queen Elizabeth II of Canada, who lives in Britain, is the Queen of Canada. The people we elect to government, not the Queen, make the laws in Canada. We keep the Queen as the head of our country because she is part of Canada s history. Who makes the laws? The Canadian government makes our laws. All governments in Canada can make laws, including the federal government of Canada, the provincial government of BC, and the government of the city where you live. For example, the government of Canada makes laws to control crime, the BC government makes laws about driving on our roads, and the City of Vancouver makes laws about the size of the house you can build on your property. The government also oversees Canada s laws. For example, people may have to talk to government staff from Citizenship and Immigration Canada if they have questions about bringing their families to Canada. Judges apply the law during trials in court. For example, a judge may decide that a person who drove through a red light caused the car accident. That person was responsible for the accident because he broke a law about safe driving. What do judges do? When a case goes to trial, the judge s decision is based on the facts of the case and the law. The parties (the people in the dispute) must accept the judge s decision as final, unless one of the parties appeals the judge s decision to a higher court. One of the most important things about our justice system is that the judges are independent. This means they are separate from other parts of government that make and enforce the laws. The government makes the laws. Judges do not make new laws.


Judges apply Canada s laws when they make decisions in court. Judges are free to make good decisions based on the facts of the case and the law. Judges are not pressured to make one decision or another in court. This is because their jobs are secure they keep their jobs until they retire. They cannot be threatened to be fired if they make an unpopular decision. Judges are paid well so they do not accept money from anyone to make a particular decision. And, the Chief Justice of every court has the right to decide how the courts are managed. The government does not tell the courts how to do its work. What do lawyers do? Lawyers can help solve problems The law cannot solve every problem, because not all problems are about legal rights. The problem may be troubling, but it is not something that the law can help solve. A lawyer knows if it is a legal problem and can give advice about how to solve it. Lawyers help people with many things, from writing a will to helping to settle legal disputes. Lawyers play an important role in the justice system when they help clients present their cases in court. Do you need a lawyer to go to court? People do not need lawyers to represent them in court. But, if they do not have a lawyer, they will have to do everything that a lawyer would do to take a case to court. For example, they will need to learn about: Court procedures, including the forms that must be used to move the case through the court system Trials can be difficult. It is a good idea for people to talk with a lawyer before deciding whether to represent themselves in court, especially if they have been charged with a crime. How do you find a lawyer? There are many ways to find a lawyer. is a good place to start. Some lawyers will give information and advice for free. Click to get information on free and low cost legal services in your community.

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