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On November 22, 2021, the Ontario Superior Court will hear arguments in the Working Families case, which challenges the constitutionality of restrictions placed on third party election advertising for an entire year prior to an election. The rules being challenged mean that individuals and organizations not affiliated with a political party or candidate are limited in what they can say about public policy issues. The government has extended the length of time during which the restrictions run in a self-interested attempt to muffle the voices of their critics.

The restrictions were previously struck down as an unreasonable restriction on freedom of expression, but the Ontario government re-enacted the rules, invoking the “notwithstanding clause” which allows laws to operate even though they violate Charter-protected rights and freedoms. In the new case, the applicants (primarily unions and individuals and groups affiliated with them) are arguing that the restrictions violate the right to vote, one of the few Charter-protected rights that cannot be overridden by the notwithstanding clause.  The CCLA has intervened in this case to argue that third party voices are essential to citizens’ ability to meaningfully participate in elections and that the notwithstanding clause cannot be used to insulate the government from democratic accountability.

You can read our factum here.

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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