CCLA will be in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on April 11, 2022 seeking to protect the fundamental rights of Canadians to protest. The case relates to action taken by the Nova Scotia government in the Spring of 2021. At that time, the provincial Attorney General sought and was granted a special court order, called an injunction, by that province’s court. The order was obtained without the presence of any other parties, and while it was sought in relation to a particular planned protest challenging public health restrictions, the order effectively barred all public protest activity and made anyone in breach of the order immediately subject to arrest for contempt of court. The government later applied to the court to have the order rescinded, arguing it was “no longer necessary”.
While CCLA did not want the injunction in place, we did want the legal issues that resulted in it being granted to go before the Court. As a result of CCLA’s appeal, the provincial appeal court will have the opportunity to hear and consider important arguments about the scope of the right to protest and the appropriateness of the broad order the government was initially granted. This case has taken on even greater significance in light of the protests and blockades that took place across Canada in February of this year, and will ask the Court to give an opinion on the appropriate parameters when seeking an anti-protest injunction.
While CCLA does not argue that an injunction can never be sought to address potentially unlawful protest activity, we do argue that when the government seeks this kind of order it must have compelling evidence and be transparent in its arguments to the Court. We also argue that any order the Court does grant must be narrowly tailored based on the evidence and the constitutional imperative to protect the freedom of peaceful assembly. The Nova Scotia injunction that was granted in the Spring of 2021 did not, in our view, abide by these principles.
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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