Working Families

Working Families

January 23, 2018 06:00 ET

Freedom of speech and association at centre of Charter challenge: Working Families

Group seeks to overturn draconian provisions under Ontario's new election law

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 23, 2018) - Working Families, a coalition of organizations that represents Ontario workers has filed an application to overturn provisions of Ontario's election law (Bill 2) that severely curtail participation by individuals and groups before and during Ontario's election period.

Speaking on behalf of Working Families, Patrick Dillon said, "We are asking the court to look at these provisions and rule on their constitutionality as they relate to how groups and individuals can effectively participate in the election process."

Under the current legislation, restrictions have been imposed on how groups and individuals can raise issues of concern to their constituencies and the broader public. These restrictions include limits on when and how much can be spent on bringing these issues before the public. It also places restrictions on how individuals and groups can act on common concerns.

"We have a situation currently where the issue of the minimum wage is a concern to the labour movement," said Dillon. "Under the new law, if two labour groups raise this issue in support of a minimum wage increase, are they violating the rules? Does it mean we can't share information? Does it mean that any money we spend on this issue is going to be counted as part of our limits? The way the current law is written raises serious concerns."

"Bill 2 was designed as a gag on free speech by allowing only government and corporate media to have unfettered access to Ontarians," Dillon pointed out. "The Ontario government has no such restrictions during the six months leading up to an election and neither do the media. How are ordinary Ontarians and the organizations they support get their concerns known?"

Dillon added, "The restrictions placed on groups like Working Families are designed to stifle free speech and participation at the most crucial time, during an election. We believe that if you are going to place restrictions, then in fairness, all groups including government, political parties, the corporate media and others should be on the same level playing field. Singling out groups like Working Families is unfair and that is why we are making this Charter challenge."

The Charter challenge is being led by Paul Cavalluzo of Cavalluzo LLP, a leading constitutional, labour and administrative law lawyer, arguing significant cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Courts of Ontario, and labour and administrative tribunals.

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