BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association v. Attorney General of British Columbia
(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)
Canadian charter (Non-criminal) - Constitutional law, Freedom of expression (s. 2(b)), Elections.
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Charter of Rights - Constitutional law - Freedom of expression - Elections - Election advertising - Third party advertising - Requirement that all third party advertisers register before advertising - Does s. 239 of the Election Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 106, infringe s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - What remedy is appropriate?
Section 239 of the Election Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 106, requires third party sponsors of election advertising during a campaign period to register with the Chief Electoral Officer. The British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association brought a Charter challenge to this provision, alleging that it breached the right to freedom of expression found in s. 2(b) and should be read down to include an exception for third parties spending less than $500 on election advertising.
The trial judge found that s. 239 infringed freedom of expression, but, based on Harper v. Canada (Attorney General), 2004 SCC 33, found that the infringement was justified under s. 1 of the Charter. The Court of Appeal, Saunders J.A. dissenting, dismissed the appeal.
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