The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) have initiated 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. The challenge was 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. CCLA and CJFE contend that these sections of the Bill must be struck down as unconstitutional and of no force and effect.
Bill C-51 came into force after receiving royal assent on June 18, 2015. It passed, despite sustained and vocal opposition from civil society, privacy, law and civil rights experts, 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.”