CALGARY: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has filed a notice of application for judicial review challenging a Calgary bylaw that prohibits certain types of protests near city libraries and recreation centres.
“The Calgary protest ban bylaw violates core democratic rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by the Charter,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn. “The protest ban bylaw is not content neutral, prohibits certain types of protests but not others. It puts the City of Calgary in the position of picking and choosing what types of protests are permitted and which are prohibited. This cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.”
only restricts certain types of protests, namely protests that express “objection or disapproval” towards ideas or actions related to “race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation”.
The bylaw prohibits protests of this nature on publicly accessible property within 100 meters of an entrance to a recreation facility or a library. The bylaw comes with serious penalties, including a $10,000 fine and a term of imprisonment.
“It is not for the government to tell Canadians what they may or may not protest. This proposed bylaw and the $10,000 fine and threat of jail time is unconstitutional and should never have been passed.”
“Libraries are places for learning, debate and discovery. Recreation facilities and libraries can and do quite literally play host to political debates during elections. The effect of the bylaw is to silence debate around places where debate is designed to happen. Under the bylaw, the government would permit a pipeline protest but could prohibit a protest about female genital mutilation as a religious practice, or a protest about medical assistance in dying, or even a protest related to international armed conflict. The bylaw will also chill other speech that may not fall within the definition of ‘specified protest’, but which the public may fear could attract state sanction due to uncertainty in enforcement or application of the bylaw. The bylaw must be struck down,” concluded Van Geyn.
The CCF is bringing this application as a public interest litigant and is represented by Calgary lawyer Yoav Niv.
Members of the public interested in supporting the costs associated with this case can make a tax deductible charitable donation at theCCF.ca/donate/