Attorney General of Canada v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Civil procedure.


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Charter of Rights – Civil Proceedings – Parties – Standing – Test for public interest standing– Parameters for granting public interest standing – Assessing whether there is another reasonable and effective way to bring constitutional issues before courts for the purposes of determining whether to grant public interest standing – Circumstances in which public interest litigants can bring challenges to government legislation or action – Relevance of the nature of the constitutional challenge to the assessment of whether there are other reasonable means by which a challenge may be brought – Whether Court of Appeal has weakened test for public interest standing by adopting a relaxed approach that will be an ineffective limit on when standing should be granted.

The respondents commenced an action challenging the constitutional validity of Criminal Code sections 210 (keeping and being within a common bawdy house), 211 (transporting a person to a common bawdy house), 212 (procuring and living on the avails of prostitution) except for ss. 212(1)(g) and (i), and 213 (soliciting in a public place) on the basis these provisions infringe ss. 2(b), 2(d), 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Neither respondent is currently charged with any of these offences. The applicant brought an application in part seeking to have the action dismissed for lack of standing.