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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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4 thoughts on “In Brief: Section 1 of the Charter & the Oakes Test”

  1. Hi,
    I find the material very useful, however where will I find solutions or suggested answers for case study based questions.

    1. Hi there, and thanks for using our resource! The Teacher’s Key contains responses to the discussion questions, but the purpose of the case study (which is fictional) is for students to make an argument for each of the steps of the legal analysis, so none are provided. Cheers!

  2. Reply
    1. Hi there – happy to help a little! The legislation is caused by a law, and discouraging gang membership is important, so it probably passes the first two questions. But if the answer to ANY of the questions about rational connection, minimal impairment or whether the means justify the ends is “NO”, then the law fails. Only if the answer to ALL the questions prior is “YES” do you go on to the question of whether it’s justified. Again, the point is for students and teachers to invent answers – so perhaps you could argue, for example, that it is rationally connected if you believe that the bandannas help gangs recruit new members in some way. But you should also consider whether removing bandannas actually helps the police and whether capturing people who are not in gangs is what the law intends do do and whether this affects how useful and fair the law is.

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