Welcome to Rights Angle, the ACLRC blog. Here, ACLRC's lawyers and educators seek to provide insight on the human rights and civil liberties issues that are important to Albertans today.
Have a question, concern, or comment? Let us know what you think using the comment function below, or follow us on Twitter @ACLRC. We are always interested in engaging the public and hearing your views.
Recently, the Alberta town of Taber passed a Community Standards By-Law (see: http://www.taber.ca/DocumentCenter/View/1006) that has garnered a fair bit of attention, even internationally. See: http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/tabers-real-target-mennonites/ Some of the attention and response has been light hearted, but the passing of the by-law and the response to it actually lead to some more serious questions about the ability of municipalities to pass Community Standards by-laws, which exist in numerous places in some form or another. The issues we see as important include:
1. Is a by-law that resembles a provision of the Criminal Code intra vires (within the jurisdiction or authority of) the municipal government?
2. How do Community Standards relate to Charter rights like freedom of expression and assembly?
In Pridgen v University of Calgary, 2012 ABCA 139, one member of the Alberta Court of Appeal, Justice Paperny, came to the conclusion that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms could apply to the actions of the University of Calgary in disciplining the Pridgen brothers for non-academic misconduct (see a post on that decision here). In BC Civil Liberties Association v University of Victoria, 2015 BCSC 39 (“UVic”), the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the Charterdid not apply, and distinguished Pridgen on several grounds.
Pridgen involved a number of University of Calgary students in the Faculty of Communication and Culture (now Arts) who posted derogatory comments about one of their instructors on Facebook, and who were disciplined for non-academic misconduct. The discipline included writing mandatory letters of apology and lengthy periods of probation.
Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about human rights law and civil liberties. Legal information is not the same as legal advice as to the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. We cannot offer legal advice in response to specific problems. We strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer if you need such help.