That’s Not Fair!

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Learning Tools

Looking for engaging civil liberties teaching materials? CCLET offers lesson plans, know-your-rights guides, and A.Alan Borovoy’s booklet “The Fundamentals of our Fundamental Freedoms” for use in high school classrooms. These materials help augment and deliver curriculum in many high school social studies courses. They can also assist teachers in covering controversial or difficult human rights and civil liberties topics. All of these resources engage people in critical thinking and weighing the importance of competing democratic values.

Please feel free to try out these resources in your classrooms and tell us how it went; or if you have a lesson plan or resource of your own that you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you! Simply email us at [email][/email].


Peer PRivacy protector’s guidebook

CCLA and CCLA have created a guidebook by teens, for teens, as part of a project funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The guidebook contains information and tips to help teens think about their  rights, learn about risks to their personal information and online reputation, and take positive steps to protect their online privacy.

Click here to access and download the PPP Guidebook, available in English and French.


Lesson Plans

Making difficult decisions about justice and fairness in a democracy requires the ability to balance conflicting rights and freedoms.

Click here to access lesson plans and resources that you can use to help engage students in critical thinking for social justice.


CCLET’s Acorn Test

Rules and laws are important but are they always fair? The Acorn test was developed by the CCLET as a tool for helping individuals decide whether or not a rule that limits rights or freedoms is reasonable. The Acorn Test is so named because it is a simplified version of the Oakes Test – a legal analysis established by the Supreme Court of Canada to assess the reasonability of a limitation on a right or freedom found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Click here to see an interactive explanation of CCLET’s Acorn test, suitable for learners aged 12 and up.

Is it fair to place age limits on voting rights? Click here to apply CCLET’s Acorn test to help you decide.


The Fundamentals of our Fundamental Freedoms

The Fundamentals of our Fundamental Freedoms is an excellent primer on civil liberties and democracy written by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s former General Counsel, A. Alan Borovoy. This guide, written in easy to follow language, is a great foundation for students wanting to learn more about their rights and freedoms.

Download an English version here.

Download a French version here.


LGBTQ Rights in Schools

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust have created a guide to LGBTQ rights in schools. This resource will help students, allies, and teachers better understand students’ rights, and how to take positive action toward making schools a safer place for all. Click here to read the full guide.

Student Contests

student contests

COVID-19 notice: The Chernos contest on limits to rights and freedoms is a ready-made online assignment for grade 9-12! We have extended the deadline for submission to June 10, 2020.

Chernos  Contest

Each year, the CCLA presents a nation-wide high school contest to commemorate the work of Bernard Chernos. Student entries address one of the fundamental freedoms questions posed by us each year (often issues the CCLA itself is working on), examining different civil liberties implications, and applying a ‘reasonableness’ analysis. Entries can be submitted either as essays or as ‘video rants’ (in the style of Rick Mercer, one of Canada’s most famous political humorists).

The Chernos Contest makes a great ready-made assignment for a wide range of high school courses!

Chernos Contest finalists are selected by CCLA lawyers and educators, then judged by a panel of legal scholars, and civil liberties and human rights educators from across the country.

Winners receive certificates and prizes:

  • 1st place: $500 + book
  • 2nd place: $150 + book
  • 3rd place: $100 + book
Bernard Chernos

Bernard Chernos was a civil libertarian, lawyer and a lover of lively debate. He graduated from the faculty of law at the University of Toronto as a gold medalist in 1957. In more than 40 years of practice, Mr. Chernos never lost his passion for the academic aspect of law.

This contest has been generously funded by the Chernos Family in memory of the great Bernard Chernos.

2020 Chernos Contest

All new cutting edge rights and freedoms questions! Deadline is June 10, 2020. Click here for this year’s instructions, questions, and to submit your entry.


2019 Chernos Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Chernos Contest!

  • 1st prize: Vivian Zhang (Vancouver)
  • 2nd prize: Donna Yim (Toronto)
  • 3rd prize: Priyanka Jayaratnam (Brampton)
  • Highly commended: Eric Whitaker (Toronto)

Announcing the 2018 Chernos Essay Contest Winners

About the Prize:
Each year, CCLET holds a high school essay competition in honor of the late Bernard Chernos, a civil libertarian, lawyer, and lover of lively debate. Students from across Canada are asked to respond to one of three questions dealing with a conflict of Charter rights and freedoms for a chance to win $500 and a copy of When Freedoms Collide, by CCLA General Counsel Emeritus, the late A. Alan Borovoy. The winning student’s school also receives a book and cheque for $250. This year the prize celebrates its 17th anniversary.

Congratulations to the 2018 winners for their ability to think critically about challenging dilemmas in a democratic society, and balance competing interests in a compelling fashion!

1st place:

Keonhee Lee from Coquitlam, British Columbia
Essay on the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons’ policy on mandatory effective referrals

2nd place:

Mackenzie Tran from Calgary, Alberta
Essay on the Canada Border Service Agency’s procedure for demanding social media passwords from travellers

3rd place:

Tyler Gerald from Toronto, Ontario
Essay on whether or not the public library should ban certain groups from renting library space

4th place:

Harman Virk from Brampton, Ontario
Video on whether or not the public library should ban certain groups from renting library space

For more information about CCLET’s annual Chernos Essay Competition, click here.