In the context of a criminal investigation in Canada, the right to silence allows a suspect to choose whether to provide information to the state. As discussed by McLachlin, J., speaking for a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Hebert, [1990] S.C.J. No. 64, at para. 80:

The essence of the right to silence is that the suspect be given a choice; the right is quite simply the freedom to choose -- the freedom to speak to the authorities on the one hand, and the freedom to refuse to make a statement to them on the other…

Suspects will not be penalized for choosing to exercise their constitutional right to remain silent. As a general rule, there is no legal obligation to provide any information to the state when you are the subject of a criminal investigation in Canada.  

It is extremely important, however, to differentiate between choosing not to speak and providing false or misleading information to the police. A suspect who intentionally provides false information may face additional criminal charges, including obstruction of justice and public mischief.

The right to silence is not a right to lie to the police. 

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