The laws in Canada and Manitoba may be quite different than in other countries. You can learn about the law by visiting the provincial justice department website: Manitoba Justice.
Some laws of which you should be aware:
- It is illegal to drive without a driver’s licence, registration and insurance.
- It is illegal to drive if you have been drinking alcohol.
- The driver and all passengers must wear seat belts at all times when driving in Canada.
- Babies and children who are too small to wear seat belts must be placed in properly installed infant or child car seats, appropriate to the age and weight of the child.
- Children under 12 years of age cannot be left at home alone, or to care for younger children.
- All children aged six to 16 must attend school.
- Smoking is not allowed in closed public places and often near entrances.
- You must be 18 years old to buy or drink alcohol.
- It is against the law to hit your spouse or children, either in the home or in public.
- Adults are required by law to report child abuse.
- It is illegal to use, buy or sell marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other addictive drugs.
- It is illegal to make any kind of sexual remarks or advances if the other person does not like them.
- It is illegal to solicit the services of a prostitute.
- Manitoba has a “zero tolerance” policy on domestic abuse. See Manitoba Justice – Domestic Violence.
Children and the law
In Canada, youth who commit a crime are held accountable for their actions. However, they are not dealt with in the same way as adult offenders. For information about the law and what to do if your child is in trouble visit Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Child and family law: Manitoba Parent Zone has information about the legal rights of children and family law issues.
Legal advice and lawyers
The Law Phone-In Service, operated by the Community Legal Education Association answers general questions about the law. Call them at 943-2305 or toll-free at 1-800-262-8800 (outside Winnipeg). The Law Phone-In Service provides general advice only, not advice for particular situations. If you have a legal problem, it is best to talk to a lawyer.
The Lawyer Referral Program will refer you to a lawyer who can provide a free 30-minute consultation. Call them at 943-3602, visit them on the web or e-mail email@example.com.
If you need legal advice and can’t afford a lawyer, you may qualify for Legal Aid. If you qualify, you may get free legal services. Legal Aid will assess your income and assets to determine whether you qualify for assistance.
Role of police
The police are part of the community and are accountable to the public. They may be either men or women. They are trained to serve and protect the public, including you. Police operate within strict regulations and follow established procedures. Canadians expect honesty and fairness from the police.
Calling the police
Most cities and towns have an emergency number for the police. Call this number if you or someone else is hurt or in danger, or if you see a crime taking place. In most parts of Canada, the emergency number is 911. Emergency numbers are always printed inside the front cover of the telephone book.
What if you are questioned by a police officer?
- Call the police officer “officer.”
- Accept the police officer’s authority; do not try to argue.
- Be ready to show identification if a police officer asks you for it. If you are stopped by the police while driving a car, the officer will probably ask you for your driver’s licence, proof of insurance and car registration.
- Tell the officer the facts about what has happened. Do not offer your own opinion.
- Never try to give money to a police officer. Canadians do not bribe police officers. It is a serious crime to do this.
What if you are arrested by a police officer?
- Police officers must tell you who they are and show you their badge number.
- They must explain why they are arresting you and tell you what your rights are.
- They must allow you to call a lawyer right away. If you don’t have a lawyer, they must give you the Legal Aid telephone number and let you call.
- You do not have to give any information, other than your name and address, until you have talked to a lawyer.
Equality and diversity
Racism is any restriction or preference based on race, colour or descent. As members of Manitoba’s multicultural society each of us has rights – and the responsibility to act respectfully towards other cultural groups or individuals.
If you experience or witness an act of racism you can do something about it.
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Manitoba Human Rights Code
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Criminal Code – Section 318 (Hate Propaganda) and other provisions
If racism or discrimination occurs where you work, at a store, restaurant or other service establishment contact the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
Hate directed towards an “identifiable group” – any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation – is a crime. If you experience or witness criminal behaviour motivated by hate contact the police.