I'm Turning 18, Now What?

AuthorSteingard, Jessica
PositionYOUTH & THE LAW / I'm Turning 18, Now What?

You can hardly wait. You are just a few days (weeks?! months?!) away from turning 18. Freedom! You are dreaming of all the things you can legally do:

* Buy alcohol (if you are in Alberta, Manitoba or Quebec)

* Get a credit card

* Purchase cannabis (if you are in Alberta only)

* Sign things for yourself

Basically, anything you want without your parent's permission. (Unless of course you live at home and will likely still have to follow house rules.) The opportunities are endless!

Turning 18 is seen as a rite of passage. The journey into adulthood. The world sees you as an adult. But being an adult also means you are responsible for your own actions. If you commit a crime, you will face the consequences as an adult. If you rack up credit card debt or max out lines of credit, you are responsible for paying the money back. If you buy a vehicle and cannot make the monthly payments, the dealership may seize it. If you do not pay your rent, your landlord can evict you. If you do not show up to work, your employer may terminate you. Then how would you pay your bills? If you do not pay taxes, the Canada Revenue Agency might be on your tail.

Does becoming an adult suddenly seem a lot less appealing?!

I am not writing this article to scare you. But I do want to make you aware of some legal consequences of becoming an adult. And give you a few tips on how to survive young adulthood--legally at a least!

Over the next few columns, I'll dive into different legal topics you should think about when you turn 18. For this column, we are going to talk about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Maybe you remember learning about it in school?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) became law in 1982. Definitely long before your time. This document is not actually a standalone document. It is Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, which is Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982. Confusing? Probably. The main point is it exists as law in Canada.

The Charter sets out our rights and freedoms in Canada.

It protects us from unreasonable and unjustified government (federal, provincial and municipal) action. These rights and freedoms include:

* Freedom of conscience and religion

* Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication (this is how fake news can happen)

* Freedom of peaceful assembly

* Freedom of association

* Right to vote

* Right as Canadian citizens to enter, remain in and...

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