With the provincial election just around the corner, FIPA’s fight against restrictions on freedom of expression in BC’s Election Act is going to make its final stop in the Supreme Court of Canada this October. This is barely six months before the BC election campaign begins.
The Election Act requires any persons or groups who actions fall under a very broad definition of ‘advertising’ to register with Elections BC – even if little or no money is spent. If they don’t, they could face hefty fines (up to $10,000) and up to a year in jail.
FIPA argues that this absolute ban on unregistered expression is unconstitutional, as it applies to things like handwritten signs or other communications with a value of zero. Studies have shown people and groups avoid public comment, for fear of hefty fines and even jail time for inadvertently violating the law.
The BC and Canadian Civil Liberties Associations will be intervening in the challenge, as will the Attorneys-General for Ontario, Quebec and Canada.
We are hoping that a victory in this important case will come before the May 2017 provincial election.
Many thanks as always to FIPA’s pro bono lawyers Sean Hern and Alison Latimer of Farris Vaughn for representing us (and the public interest) in this case.