Friday, March 16, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Censorship

From the court reporter headnote for R. v. Bryan:
During the 2000 federal election, B transmitted the election results from 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada while polling stations remained open elsewhere in Canada, by posting the information on a web site. He was charged with contravening s. 329 of the Canada Elections Act, which prohibits the transmission of election results in one electoral district to another electoral district before the close of all polling stations in that other district. B’s application for a declaration that s. 329 was unconstitutional for unjustifiably infringing his freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was dismissed, and B was convicted of the offence. The summary conviction appeal judge declared the provision unconstitutional on the ground that it infringed the Charter right and was not saved by s. 1, and overturned B’s conviction. The Court of Appeal held that s. 329 was a justified limit on freedom of expression and restored the conviction.
This ruling is a disgrace. Canadians must never forget that courts are part of government. And in the latest battle between government and individual Canadians, the government wins again.

Gerry Nicholls Vice President of the National Citizens Coalition, one of the interveners, summarizes the reasoning on his blog:
The court didn’t apparently didn’t care that section 329 [of the Canada Elections Act] infringed on free speech. Why? Because they believed it was a necessary infringement to safeguard what one Justice called “informational equality.”

Yes apparently “informational equality” is an important right, more important even than the right to free speech, which just happens to be entrenched in the Charter.

Absolutely amazing.

We know where the court stands on free speech (making up limits on the fly). The question now, is where does Parliament stand? Will government protect us or oppress us?

Repeal s. 329!