OCTOBER 11, 2016
Supreme Court hears FIPA’s Election Act challenge
The Supreme Court of Canada reserves decision on striking down ban on unregistered speech in BC’s election law
VANCOUVER, October 11, 2016 – The Supreme Court of Canada will take the time to make its decision in the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association’s (FIPA) Charter challenge to protect freedom of expression during elections in British Columbia.
BC is the only province in Canada that requires a person or group to register with authorities in order to discuss election issues – even if they spend little or no money. FIPA argued that this absolute ban on unregistered expression is unconstitutional, as it applies to things like handwritten signs or other low cost communications. Studies have shown people and groups have avoided public comment in past elections, for fear of hefty fines and even jail time for inadvertently violating the law.
After hearing from FIPA, the BC Government and several intervenors, the high court reserved its decision.
“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will find in our favour and strike down this law,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “This is an important national issue, but the consequences are particularly serious for British Columbia, which has a provincial election in May 2017. We hope the Court hands down its decision before the campaign begins.”
FIPA again thanks lawyers Sean Hern and Alison Latimer of Farris Vaughan, who have represented FIPA pro bono in this case.
Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
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