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In Brief: Section 1 of the Charter & the Oakes Test

OJEN In Brief resources are designed to provide high school students with an introduction to basic legal concepts. Each resource includes a short lesson plan for the teacher; a 1-4 page plain language description of the legal topic; and activities that provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the topic.

The Oakes test is a legal test created by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case R v Oakes (1986). R v Oakes provided the Court with the opportunity to interpret the wording of section 1 of the Charter and to explain how section 1 would apply to a case. The result was the Oakes test – a test that is used every time a Charter violation is found. Section 1 of the Charter is often referred to as the “reasonable limits clause” because it is the section that can be used to justify a limitation on a person’s Charter rights. Charter rights are not absolute and can be infringed if the Courts determine that the infringement is reasonably justified.

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