6 Must know facts about Canadian law

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Did you know that the police might stop you if you put your liquor purchases in the front seat of your car? Or that you have to stop at least five metres away from a school bus when children are getting off or on the bus?

These are just some laws that govern our daily lives in Manitoba. As a newcomer, you must be familiar with these rules to ensure that you don’t break them. But observing the law is not just about the things you can’t do. More importantly, it is about what you can do to contribute to the preservation of a peaceful, productive and orderly society. The law also ensures that your individual rights and freedoms are respected. In a complex society, these are important in maintaining equality and fairness for all.

The law also ensures that your individual rights and freedoms are respected. In a complex society, these are important in maintaining equality and fairness for all.

Here are six important elements about Canadian Law you should know:

  1. The law is divided into Public and Private law

  2. Public law deals with matters that affect society as a whole. These establish rules for the relationship between the individual and society. It is composed of:

    • Criminal law– deals with crime and punishment.
    • Constitutional law – defines the relationship between branches of government as well as federal and provincial governments. It upholds human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    • Administrative law – deals with the actions and operations of government.

    Meanwhile, private law or civil law sets the rules between individuals. Examples of these are those that govern contracts, property ownership, the rights and obligation of family members.

  3. All about courts and legal representation

  4. When disputes and misunderstandings arise, the courts are there to help you. However, it is advised that, as much as possible, conflicts be settled out of court (such as through mediation or arbitration) with the court as a last resort.

    There are levels of court, such as provincial, federal and territorial, and they are involved in interpreting and establishing the law. You must be represented by a lawyer if you wish to bring a case to court. Manitoba has a law phone-in and lawyer referral program that provides legal information and advice as well as lawyer referral services. You can also go to the Law Society of Manitoba’s Lawyer Lookup, The Canadian Law List, or JusticeNet to look for a lawyer. You may even qualify for free legal-aid depending on your income. You can ask a settlement services agency near you for assistance.

  5. Keeping the peace

  6. It is the duty of the police to enforce the law and keep people safe. Do not hesitate to call or approach them if you are at risk for violence or crime (or if you know someone who is in danger). You can contact the Winnipeg Police or the nearest police detachment if you are in rural Manitoba. You can even report a crime online. In cases of emergency where danger is about to happen, call 911. Aside from these, you can also report scams or fraud to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Should you be apprehended or questioned, it is always better to cooperate with the police. Remember that you have the right to know what you are being questioned or apprehended for and that you are innocent until proven guilty. It is a serious offense to bribe the police, so don’t even try!

  7. Family law

  8. These are regulations that govern family matters and domestic relations. It puts down laws regarding marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships as well regulations against family violence, child or senior abuse and neglect. You can download the public information booklet on Family Law from the Manitoba Justice page or read Learning about Family Law to know more about it.

  9. Labour law

  10. These laws lay down the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. Laws on minimum wage, employment insurance, overtime, hiring, holidays and vacations are enforced through the Employment Standards program in Manitoba. Read What are Employment Standards? to know more.

  11. Animal protection

  12. Manitoba has one of the toughest laws in the world against animal cruelty and neglect. These are outlined in the Animal Care Act. The province also has an Animal Care Line for reporting animals (both pets and farm animals) who may have inadequate care or protection, or if they are being kept in an unsafe or unsanitary environment.

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Community Resources

For more information about Canadian law and justice, visit the Department of Justice site. You can also download the booklet Canada’s System of Justice from the site or through the link.

You can learn more about the laws of Manitoba  from the online version. You can even search specific acts or regulations using searches within the site.

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Quiz

6 Must know facts about Canadian law

Select the correct definition for each word each used in the article.

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