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BCTF School Staff Alert


March 30, 2009

Court rules "Gag Law" unconstitutional


BC Supreme Court Justice Cole has ruled that Bill 42, the “gag law,” is unconstitutional.

“The government’s gag law was an attack on free speech and democratic rights,” said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger. “The BC Supreme Court decision shows the Campbell government was arrogant to think it could silence its critics and hide from its own record.”

Teachers can be very proud of playing a key role in standing up for the rights of all British Columbians to engage in the democratic process and speak out about the issues that matter to them.

Bill 42, the “Gag Law,” brought in by the Campbell government last May, defined election advertising very broadly to include transmitting to the public, by any means, a message that takes a position on an issue with which a party or candidate is associated. The law imposed severe restrictions on such advertising for total of 88 days before a provincial election and threatened harsh penalties.

The BC Teachers’ Federation challenged Bill 42 in BC Supreme Court together with the BC Nurses’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees–BC, and the Federation of Post Secondary Educators.

Justice Cole, who will release his reasons early this week, will rule that expanding advertising restrictions beyond the immediate 28-day election period is unconstitutional. The spending limits for the 28-day election period were upheld.

“British Columbians have the right to speak out,” said Lanzinger. “It is fundamental to our democracy that people like teachers get to voice their concerns and their opinions. That’s what makes democracy work. Teachers in BC are thrilled by this victory and the stance they took with other unions in BC against this undemocratic legislation.”