A Guide to Justice in Canada for Immigrants

As a

The origin of Canadian Law

The Canadian Parliament (pictured above) creates the laws of the land.

permanent resident in Canada you may not be entirely familiar with how crimes are handled by the Canadian government, however, it does not take long to understand how the system basically works.


There are many activities regularly engaged in in other countries which are considered to be unlawful in Canada. The source of these standards lies in the norms and moral tradition of commonwealth countries. Some unlawful activities include:

  • Underage sexual activity (the age of consent in Canada is 16, unless the relationship is confounded with relationships based on authority or trust, in which case the age of consent is 18).
  • Female genital mutilation.
  • Crimes of honor (such as avenging the death of a family member, or stoning adulterers).
  • Child abuse or neglect. Ignoring a child is considered just as unlawful as physically hurting them. The same goes for the elderly.
  • Human trafficking, the trading or sale of human beings for various reasons, is also strictly against the law.

If you happen to witness or seriously suspect a crime, you can report these concerns to the police who can be reached on the phone at 911.

The Legal System

There are three legal concepts that are important to remember regarding Canadian law:

  • Everyone is assumed to be innocent until they are convicted;
  • Everyone (including the police, public figures, judges and regular people) are subject to the same laws.
  • If you happen to be arrested or detained you have the right to know which crime you are being held to and an attorney.

The Canadian legal system is divided into multiple levels from descending order: federal, provincial or territorial, local or municipal. Each level may have slightly different laws, but the big crimes are essentially standardized by the federal government.

Hopefully, you will never have to encounter the legal process in Canada (and it is our hope that this post adds towards that effort) but it is always important to know how these systems work.