Charter challenge mounted against Bill C-51 | National Union of Public and General Employees

Charter challenge mounted against Bill C-51

“It creates broad and dangerous new powers, without commensurate accountability, and this can result in serious mistakes.” — Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Toronto (22 July 21 2015) — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) are initiating a Charter challenge against key sections of Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. The legislation presents disturbing implications for free speech, privacy, the powers of government, including CSIS, and the protection of civil liberties in Canada.

Violates Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The challenge will be filed with the Ontario Superior Court on the grounds that specific sections of Bill C-51 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a manner that is not justified in a free and democratic society. As such, these sections must be struck down as unconstitutional and of no force and effect.

C-51 serious threat to civil rights of Canadians

Bill C-51 came into force after receiving royal assent on June 18, 2015. It passed, despite sustained and vocal opposition from civil society, and experts in privacy, law and civil rights, prominent civil servants, academics, former Supreme Court justices, and former Canadian prime ministers.

“Bill C-51 is a grave threat to our rights in Canada. It will lead to censorship and a massive chill on free expression, and enables a potentially widespread abuse of power,” said Tom Henheffer, Executive Director of CJFE. “It unjustifiably infringes on the rights of all Canadians without making our country any more secure, and must be struck down.”

Bill creates "broad and dangerous new powers"

“We are challenging several provisions of Bill C-51 that in our view are unconstitutional,” said Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “It creates broad and dangerous new powers, without commensurate accountability, and this can result in serious mistakes.”

She continued, “Some of the powers granted by Bill C-51 are secretive in nature, so the public may never know if and when Canadians’ rights are being violated, though individuals will be faced with the fallout.”

The challenge will address five key components of Bill C-51, which violate the Charter unjustifiably and must be struck down. These components feature amendments to (1) the CSIS Act, (2) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and (3) the Criminal Code with respect to “advocating or promoting terrorism.” The challenge will also address (4) the new Secure Air Travel Act as well as (5) the new Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.

Bill C-51 poses a fundamental threat to Canadians’ rights and civil liberties, which are critical to a healthy, functioning democracy. Join us in our efforts to dismantle Bill C-51 and protect the rights and freedoms valued by Canadians.

About the CJFE and CCLA

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, they promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others’ free expression rights. 

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is an independent, non-partisan, national organization, which promotes and defends fundamental human rights and civil liberties in Canada. Started in 1964, the Association conducts research, public education, and advocacy aimed at ensuring the protection and full exercise of those rights and liberties. The Corporation of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) was constituted in 1985 and shares the objectives of the Association.

More information

CCLA: Understanding Bill C-51

CJFE on Bill C-51

Help fund the challenge

NUPGE: Who Watches the Watchers: Bill C-51

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE