BC Liberals' election 'gag law' an inexcusable assault on democracy, says
BURNABY, BC, June 26 /CNW/ - The British Columbia division of the
Canadian Union of Public Employees is among seven of the province's largest
unions, along with the BC Federation of Labour, that have launched a legal
challenge against Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act.
CUPE BC and the other unions are challenging the BC Liberals' notorious
gag law based on freedom of expression guarantees in the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. Joseph Arvay and Leo McGrady, the lawyers acting on the
unions' behalf, will argue that several features of Bill 42 exceed reasonable
limits imposed by the Charter.
"Before the last election, there were only three NDP MLAs in the
legislature. We needed to be there, to assist in presenting alternatives to
the government's agenda," says CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill.
"The Campbell Liberals dreamed up Bill 42 to prevent us from ever having
that kind of influence again. Well, we're not going to 'just shut up' like the
government wants us to. As CUPE members, there are 75,000 of us in B.C., and
we deserve a voice."
Bill 42 was one of several bills introduced late in the last legislative
session and rammed through the house after the government invoked closure to
The bill originally attempted to severely restrict third party election
advertising for five months before the next provincial election - a period
eventually reduced to three months, thanks to broad-based and sustained
criticism. The legal action announced today will challenge any such term
limits as undemocratic.
Apart from reducing spending limits, Bill 42 also broadens the definition
of 'advertising' prohibited under the law, introduces a 'combined
expenditures' feature that inhibits third-party ability to contribute funds to
other organizations that happen to be active on election issues, and curtails
third-party ability to produce messaging that's associated with any particular
The legal challenge is being prepared on behalf of: CUPE BC, BC Teachers
Federation, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union 378, BC Nurses
Union, BC Government and Service Employees Union, Federation of Post Secondary
Educators, Hospital Employees Union and the BC Federation of Labour.
For further information:
For further information: Barry O'Neill, CUPE BC president: (604)
340-6768; Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132