British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, et al. v. University of Victoria, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Canadian charter (Non-criminal) - Application (s. 32), Freedom of expression (s. 2(b)).


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Charter of Rights – Application – Freedom of expression – Freedom of peaceful assembly – Freedom of association – Reasonable limits – Does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to a university’s regulation of its common campus space for use by students – If the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to universities, are university administrators nevertheless required to consider fundamental values such as freedom of expression when exercising discretionary powers conferred upon them by statute.

Cameron Côté is a former student at the respondent University and was on the executive of a student club named Youth Protecting Youth (“YPY”). In January 2013, YPY sought and received approval for an allotment of campus space for a planned activity. However, the University subsequently withdrew the approval because the University of Victoria Students’ Society had prohibited YPY from the use of campus space after the club allegedly engaged in harassment of students during a prior activity. After YPY proceeded with the event anyway, the University revoked YPY’s outdoor space booking privileges on campus for a one year period and indicated that further failure to follow directives could result in an allegation of non-academic misconduct. The decisions withdrawing the initial approval and communicating the imposed sanction were later withdrawn. The applicants brought a petition seeking, inter alia, declarations that s. 15 of the University’s Booking of Outdoor Space by Students Policy was ultra vires, void and of no force or effect as unjustifiably violating sections 2(b), (c), and (d) of the Charter; that university policies and decisions regulating the use of common areas for expressive purposes must be consistent with the Charter, and that decisions taken by University staff be quashed as unreasonable. The Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed the applicants’ petition, holding that the jurisprudence establishes that the Charter does not apply to the impugned decisions. The Court of Appeal for British Columbia dismissed the appeal.