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News August 17, 2021

Supreme Court Grants CFE Leave to Intervene in Public Interest Standing Case

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted the Centre for Free Expression leave to intervene in its consideration of an important upcoming case regarding public interest standing, the right of a person or organization to bring a case despite their lack of direct involvement in the matter, or any infringement of their personal rights.

The Attorney General of British Columbia is appealing the decision of the BC Court of Appeal allowing the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) to bring a claim alleging that the provisions of B.C.’s Mental Health Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The Centre for Free Expression is intervening because we believe it is not fair or reasonable to download onto individuals alone the responsibility to challenge government when not all individuals have the means or resources to pursue litigation,” said CFE Director, James L. Turk.

“Public interest litigation promotes civic engagement, democratic accountability, and respect for constitutional rights,” Turk added.  “It can be used not only to advance individual rights, but also to facilitate the public’s right to know, which is an element of freedom of expression under the Charter.”

In its submission to the SCC, the Centre will contextualize the test for public interest standing within the established jurisprudence upholding freedom of expression as both a fundamental Charter right and an indispensable value in a democratic society.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in November. CFE is being represented by Faisal Bhabha of PooranLaw.