Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - BC

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - BC

March 27, 2009 20:25 ET

Gag Law in Jeopardy: Parts of Bill 42 'Unconstitutional'

Union's charter challenge on third-party spending limits upheld in oral decision today

BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 27, 2009) - A decision today by Justice Cole of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has delivered a serious blow to the Campbell Liberal government's draconian Bill 42 (Election Amendment Act).

At a meeting held today with the lawyers involved in the Bill 42 case, Justice Cole said that the third party spending limits during the 60-day period preceding the dropping of the write and the election campaign period are unconstitutional because they violate section 2(b) Freedom of Association provisions of the Constitution, and were not saved by Section 1 which allows for reasonable restrictions on rights.

Justice Cole's oral decision, announced at 2 p.m. today, will be followed by a written decision with reasons on Monday.

CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill applauded the decision as a great victory for freedom of speech in British Columbia.

"This was an absurd law. We've said it's absurd from the very beginning, and the judge agrees with us," said O'Neill.

"The effect of this law has been to deny people the ability to make critical comments about their elected government, if they so wish, from start to finish."

O'Neill said the Liberal government will have to answer for its hypocrisy on Bill 42, noting that as Opposition leader Gordon Campbell described minor changes to the Election Act by the then-NDP government as a betrayal of democracy.

"It's just too bad that the government didn't talk to parties other than the Business Council before they wrote up this law," added O'Neill.

"The government may choose to appeal this, but in our opinion an appeal is not in the public interest and we will certainly defend this decision."

Contact Information

    Barry O'Neill
    (604) 340-6768
    CUPE - Communications
    Dan Gawthrop
    (604) 999-6132