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Lawyer’s Daily reports on CCLA intervention in Canada Post ban

June 08, 2017

CCLA says Ottawa’s distribution ban is unconstitutional

The Lawyer’s Daily reports this week on an intervention by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) in proceedings challenging Canada Post’s interim prohibitory order (IPO) preventing “Your Ward News” from being sent through the mail.

As the Lawyer’s Daily reports, Your Ward News has been accused of promoting hatred against Jews, Muslims, women and the LGBTQ community. In May, the government issued the IPO, on the basis that the Minister responsible for Canada Post believed “on reasonable grounds that by means of mail, the affected parties were ‘sending, or causing to be sent, items that include hate propaganda in contravention of Subsection 319(2) of the Criminal Code and/or that include the publication of defamatory libel in contravention of Section 300 of the Criminal Code.’”

The people who publish Your Ward News challenged the IPO and the matter is being heard by a three person board of review, as provided under Canada Post Corporation Act.

The CCLA has intervened in the proceeding. It is concerned with the lack of reasons given by the government in issuing the IPO.  As Jessica Orkin explained to Lawyer’s Daily:

“Bald and conclusory statements that simply restate the requirements of the act are not reasons,” added Jessica Orkin, a partner with Goldblatt Partners LLP and counsel for the CCLA in this matter. “The order does not include any explanation for the Minister’s assertion that she had reasonable grounds for the assertion that such offences are being committed.”

Issuing the order without adequate reasons violates the right of Your Ward News’ publishers to freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and does not meet the proportionality tests set out in the Charter:

 “When the mail at issue serves an expressive purpose, the potential exercise of the prohibitory powers under the Act engages the Charter guarantee of freedom of expression,” said the [CCLA’s] factum. “Restrictions on access to mail services, including prior restraint in the form of an IPO, will be subject to the constitutional limitations that apply to the prior restraint of speech. At a general level, the Charter demands that any limitation on a person’s speech be proportional to the reasons given for the limitation. … [it] is impossible without reasons, and demands a recommendation to the minister that the IPO be revoked.”

The CCLA’s positions were also described in this letter to the Minister, sent last year.

Lawyers

Jessica Orkin

Practice Areas

Constitutional Law