Lesson 2: Democracy, Rights and Responsibilities What is a Democracy? • A system of government in which power is retained by all the people. • In a democracy, citizens have access to power and they also have guaranteed rights and freedoms. Representative Democracy • A form of government in which individuals are elected to represent the people and pass laws. • Most democracies are representative democracies. Canada’s Democracy • Canada is a parliamentary democracy, which is a type of representative democracy. • 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 nature. • 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 Freedoms • Fundamental rights include freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, expression and the freedom of the press, among others. Democratic Rights • 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.