THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
What are Canadian values? What Canadian people believe to be important?
Canadian society: “Peace, order and good government.”
American society: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Different, right? In Canada, we believe that laws are important to provide order in society and a peaceful way to settle disputes. And who makes the laws? Government. So, there you have it: peace, order and good government.
Laws apply to everyone: laws apply to judges, to politicians and to the police. This means that if a judge, or a politician, or a police officer commits a crime, they can go to prison just like everyone else.
Government makes the laws. The police enforce the laws. Courts settle disputes (when people disagree who is right and who is wrong).
In some countries, the police are not… nice. You see the police and quickly walk away! Really quickly 😉 In Canada, the police are there to keep people safe. In Canada, you can talk to the police and ask for help. If something bad happened (accident, crime, someone is missing), talk to the police. Their job is to help you.
There are different types of police in Canada. 1) RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also called the Mounties) – they are police for all the country. They enforce federal laws. 2) Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police. OPP = Ontario Provincial Police. 3) Toronto and Montreal have their own police, and so do some other areas.
One thing to remember: if you are talking to a police officer in Canada, always (always!) speak politely.
Our Justice System is based on “presumption of innocence” = innocent until proven guilty = you are innocent until the court decides that you are guilty. Nobody can be thrown into jail without a trial. Government must respect the legal rights of every person.
Have you seen the picture of the Lady Justice? What is covering her eyes? She is blindfolded. Why? Justice should not look to see if a person is rich or poor, famous or not, black or white or other skin colour – it doesn’t matter. Only facts matter: what happened and what the person did.
If something happened to you and you need a lawyer but you don’t have money to pay for the lawyer, in Canada there are Legal Aid Services available free of charge or at a low cost (if your case qualifies).