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Saturday, March 28, 2009

B.C. Supreme Court strikes down gag law

British Columbia's Supreme Court struck down some of the province's laws limiting third-party spending on advertising outside of the writ period.

Justice Frank Cole told lawyers involved in the case Friday he will release a written ruling on Monday that will lift all restrictions from third-party advertisers from now until the writs of election are issued on April 14.

Between April 14 and election day May 12, third-party advertisers are expected still to be allowed to spend up to $150,000 each.

The so-called gag law "was found unconstitutional," said lawyer Joe Arvay, who challenged the law on behalf of a group of labour unions.

It's very unfortunate that the restrictions weren't lifted during the writ period. These laws are an affront to freedom of speech in Canada. This is why Stephen Harper took on Canada back in the day to fight the national election gag law brought in by Chretien. He won in 2000 but lost in 2004, and unfortunately his government hasn't moved to scrap or alter a law that gives politicians the only real voice during an election campaign.

Still, a victory is a victory, even if it's incomplete. B.C. residents have reason to celebrate today.

Posted by Janet Neilson on March 28, 2009 | Permalink


Interesting that these "gag laws," passed on the grounds that wealthy third parties might exert undue influence on the outcome of the election, were found to be unconstitutional, while the "gag laws" limiting the publication of election results until every poll a province has closed, on the grounds that wealthy third parties might exert undue influence on the outcome of the election, were found to be constitutional. One of these two judges has fucked up.

And if the BCTF wants to influence public policy beyond the scope of the votes of their members, they should fund their own political party. But then, they've never been sticklers for the law in the first place, so I don't know why they'd bother to challenge this one when they could simply have broken it later. "Professionals," indeed. More like street thugs defending turf.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 4:33:59 PM

I'm waiting for another Harper aplogist to come along and explain how "incrementalism" is really compatible with Harper's about-face on gag laws, too.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-29 12:36:28 PM

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