My Rights

What rights do I have in police stops and interactions?

Whether police ask you questions, stop you, detain, or arrest you, you have many rights.

You have the right to equality and to be free from discrimination. These rights come from section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and from human rights laws.
You have the right to silence – see here to learn what this includes.
If the stop is an arrest or detention, you have special rights that come from the Charter.
If the stop is not a detention or arrest, you have the right to walk away. And you have other rights that come from provincial laws or specific police service policies.

CCLA and other rights advocates believe there should be police-stop rules for every police service in Canada; that these rules should prohibit carding and protect affected communities; and that police should post information about these  rules in a way that is easy to find and easy to understand.

Here are examples of a few of the rights that are provided in different places in Canada — but every situation is unique. Whether these rights are available depends on the specific circumstances of your case.  We have provided these samples of rights so that if, for example, police do not give you a reason why they have stopped you or asked you questions, or if they do not tell you that you are free to go, etc., you can consider afterwards whether to complain, take action, or fight for change to bring these kinds of rules into your community:

In Ontario

There is a provincial regulation that gives you rights in certain non-detention, non-arrest police stops. These rights include the following:

  • Police are not allowed to stop you unless they have an appropriate reason

If they do stop you, in most cases they must:

  • Inform you that you are not required to provide any identifying information;
  • Inform you why they want the information;
  • Offer a receipt of the interaction that contains the officer’s name, badge, division, date, time, location, and reason you were stopped; and
  • Allow you to leave.

But there are some circumstances when the regulation does not apply or does not require police to provide you all or some of these rights, including:

  • If you are legally required to provide information to police (e.g., because you are the driver of a car);
  • If an individual’s safety is at risk;
  • If providing the right would compromise an ongoing investigation; or
  • If providing the right would delay the police officer from responding to an urgent matter.

In Peel

The Chief of the Peel Regional Police is required to develop procedures that reinforce and encourage positive, professional, ethical, and ethno-culturally sensitive practices, including with respect to police stops, searches, execution of warrants, response to 911 calls, and participation in public events.

In Saskatoon

A police officer must, if requested, provide the badge and photo identification so that you are satisfied the person is a police officer, and the officer must tell you why you are being stopped.

In Edmonton

The police must identify themselves and tell you why you have been stopped.

In British Columbia

Every police service is required to have a written policy that includes a rule stating that police officers may not request, demand, collect, or record your ID or identifying information without a justifiable reason.

In Halifax

The Code of Ethics requires police:

  • when conducting pedestrian and vehicle stops, to provide their name and agency as well as the reason for the stop as soon as possible, unless doing so would pose a threat to public safety or compromise an officer and their objective.
  • when conducting vehicle stops, to provide their name, agency, and reason for the stop before asking for licences and registration. Officers must ensure that they do not detain you longer than necessary and must communicate any delays with you.
  • when conducting pedestrian and vehicle stops, to answer any questions you may have while stopped.

In your town, city, or region

Look up your local police service to see if they have a policy – and if it is publicly available.