PEN Canada Intervenes in CCLA Court Case Against Provincial Government

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TORONTO (July 6) PEN Canada will today intervene in the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s case against the provincial government. The CCLA’s lawsuit alleges that certain stickers mandated by law to be attached to gas pumps are a form of compelled political speech which violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The stickers – which were distributed to gas stations across Ontario last year – are alleged to be a partisan political attack on the federal carbon tax.

“Free speech is the cornerstone of any democratic society,” said Brendan de Caires, Executive Director, PEN Canada. “Our intervention in this case will assist the Court in understanding whether Canadian law recognizes that freedom of expression includes the freedom to remain silent without expressing meaning. The government’s decision to force gas stations to post stickers, at risk of being fined, compels a message which they may not have wished to convey.”

PEN Canada is being represented pro bono by Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP. The motion for leave to intervene in Canadian Civil Liberties Association v. Ontario (Court File No. CV-19-00626685-0000) will be heard today.

“In Canada, a right to silence which conveys meaning is well-recognized,” said Michael Bookman, Chair of PEN Canada’s Legal Affairs committee. “But protection for silence that does not intend to convey meaning has not been sufficiently addressed.”


About PEN Canada

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada.



For more information:

Brendan de Caires

Read the full factum: 2020-06-24 – Letter to Counsel encl Factum and Book of Authorities (1)