So far, this blog series has commented on City of Toronto v. Ontario (2021) and Ward v. Quebec (2021); offered a quantitative and qualitative synopsis of the s.2(b) case law; provided a critique of Irwin Toy and the contextual approach; and addressed the Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisprudence on the open court principle and freedom of the press and media. Even so, when complete the series will still leave much unsaid about s.2(b) and its challenges.
The fourth in this blog series on freedom of expression under the Charter addresses the open court or open justice principle and freedom of the press and media. Juxtaposing the two reveals how differently the Court responded to two issues that support the democracy-promoting values of openness, transparency and accountability.
Late in 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered two of its most consequential Charter decisions on freedom of expression in recent years: City of Toronto v. Ontario and Ward v. Quebec. That endpoint in 2021 is the starting point of a 5-part series on s.2(b) of the Charter and its passage from 1982 to the present. The series begins with City of Toronto and Ward, two decisions dividing the Court 5-4 and pointing in opposite directions that raise perplexing questions about expressive freedom – and the Court itself. Of particular concern is the bloc mentality of these decisions and how it undermined principled decision making on important s.2(b) issues.
On June 23, 2020, B’Nai Brith issued a press release and posted an online petition calling on York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton to bar Professor Faisal Bhabha from teaching any “human rights” course at Osgoode Hall Law School. More than six weeks later, the President has not provided an open or transparent response to B’Nai Brith’s widely publicized condemnation of Bhabha and petition to remove him from the classroom.