This paper provides an overview of recent Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence in the area of freedom of expression in the political context, focusing on Thomson Newspapers Co. v.Canada (Attorney General), Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) and R. v. Bryan. In R. v. Bryan, the Court was faced with a constitutional challenge under section 2(b) of the Charter to section 329 of the Canada Elections Act, which prohibits the transmission of election results in one electoral district to another electoral district before the close of all polling stations in that other district. A majority of the Court held that the Attorney General was justified in limiting political expression. The paper critiques the elevation of “informational equality” to a democratic imperative. The paper also discusses how the Court has extended the “reasoned apprehension of harm” test from its origins in speech at the fringes to political expression at the core of the section 2(b) guarantee. Finally, the paper considers the majority’s unquestioning deference to government in the electoral process. The paper’s conclusion is that the Supreme Court of Canada is not providing core political expression with the protections that are demanded.
Bredt, Christopher D. and Finley, Margot.
"R. v. Bryan: The Supreme Court and the Electoral Process."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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