Free expression in Alberta has been dealt a huge blow by the Alberta Court of Appeal, and RMCLA is applying for intervenor status as this case proceeds to the Supreme Court of Canada. We are doing this to protect your freedom of expression and we could use your help.
Unless the Court of Appeal’s decision is reversed it could mean that, when critiquing politicians or government officials, they could have you charged under the Criminal Code if they don’t like your comments.
Here’s what happened:
Karen MacKinnon, a former Drumheller town councillor and Alberta resident, was charged under under section 301 of the Criminal Code after posting some critical remarks on Facebook about Drumheller town officials..
What didn’t come to light until after her conviction was that section 301 had been declared unconstitutional in Alberta nearly 20 years before. Section 301 has also been ruled unconstitutional in four other provinces —Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite that, section 301 remains in the Criminal Code and can still be used to silence people — especially when comments are about those in a position of power.
What’s worse is that, in March of 2017, the Alberta Court of Appeal held that Ms. MacKinnon could not challenge the constitutionality of section 301. That’s why Ms. MacKinnon has filed an application for leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada and is challenging the constitutionality of section 301 of the Criminal Code.
Here’s the bottom line:
If this decision remains unchallenged, it will directly affect you, your family and your friends. In a digital age where free speech is both more accessible and readily disseminated than ever before, critical comments you might make about actions of your community politicians and officials — and even remarks that are attributed to you — could end up being used against you.
We need your support to protect free speech in Alberta.
We need to show the Supreme Court of Canada that freedom of expression is important to Albertans, and that the government and powerful people should not be able to rely on an unconstitutional law to silence you and me for making comments they don’t like. We also need the Court to declare that section 301 is unconstitutional everywhere across the country, so that all Canadians can enjoy their Charter protected right to free expression.
This could be a very long and costly fight. Until this ruling is reversed, this assault on Albertans’ freedom of expression will be allowed to continue.
Without your help, we’ll continue to see people silenced, and powerful people able to take advantage of the unconstitutional Criminal Code provisions to silence their critics.
Help us fight back.
This is about more than just law and policy. It’s about who we are as a nation: if you believe there is nothing Canadian about undermining our fundamental rights, please join us in this fight before time runs out.
Donate & Become a Member
RMCLA cannot do its work without your financial support. We can only offer events, conduct research, publish articles reports or newsletter, and stay on-line with donations from you. If you want a voice for civil liberties in Alberta, then please give a donation and your first $20 goes toward your membership. Donate today at: http://rmcla.ca/donate.html
Or, mail your donation payable to:
Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4 (RMCLA is a not-for-profit organization and does not have charitable status, so cannot give charitable receipts)