NCC AD ASKS: "WILL SUPREME COURT KILL FREE SPEECH?"
Submitted by Clare Joly
May 14, 2004
(Toronto) "Will the Supreme Court Kill Free Speech in Canada?"
That's the crucial question the National Citizens Coalition asks in a large newspaper ad appearing today in the National Post.
"On May 18th, the Supreme Court of Canada will render its verdict on the constitutionality of the federal government's election gag law," says NCC vice president Gerry Nicholls. "We are running this ad to let Canadians know what this ruling will mean for their democratic rights."
Nicholls says this ad may be his group's only opportunity to make the gag law an election issue.
"If the Supreme Court rules in favour of gag laws and if the government then calls an election, it would be illegal for us to run effective ads raising public awareness about this key issue," says Nicholls.
The gag law imposes severe restrictions on what private citizens or groups can spend to express opinions during elections and also forces those wishing to express opinions to register with Elections Canada.
"Simply put the gag law is an assault on free speech," says Nicholls. "For the sake of our democracy the court must kill it."
For more information on the gag law visit the NCC's web site www.morefreedom.org
Editorial Opposition to the Election Gag law
Newspapers from across Canada have denounced the election gag law. Here's a sampling of those opinions:
- Ottawa's election gag law has never been able to find solid constitutional ground to stand on.
– Calgary Herald
- If the Supreme Court upholds the gag law, the only groups allowed to speak during elections will be established political parties . . . and the media. Only you will be shut up. That's not just.
– Ottawa Citizen
- The court should not let the country's political parties use their power to maintain an effective monopoly on the effective, widespread dissemination of views during a campaign.
– Globe and Mail
- The effort to censor Canadians at election time has done little except muzzle legitimate debate and create work for lawyers. It's time for gag laws to die once and for all."
- National Post.
- If we are all indeed free to speak our minds, the gag law must die."
- "You don't have to tell anyone with a modicum of common sense that the right to speak freely during an election is a fundamental building block of our free Canadian society".
- "Laws such as this one [gag laws] grossly tilt the terrain, giving an elite a fine grip on the windpipe of the political process. Surely, Canadians should be able to express themselves on the issues of the day."
– Montreal Gazette
- "Ottawa should give up further attempts to muzzle its citizens"
– Halifax Daily News
National Citizens Coalition