Despite often overwhelming odds, in the face of increasing threats to our fundamental freedoms, we have seen remarkable success! As we ring in the New Year, join us in celebrating some of the greatest highlights that have made this year of critical importance to the freedom movement.
We defended the right of Canadians to protest
The Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa in January, bringing with it a sense of hope, stirring the heart of the nation in a way that has rarely been seen in our history. The Justice Centre mobilized to defend the rights of these peaceful protestors by establishing a hotline for truckers facing arrest, vigorously advocating for their rights to peacefully protest, and responding swiftly on their behalf in the face of attempts to intimidate them and dissuade them from their cause. The more intense the opposition, the more steadfastly we stood alongside the truckers.
We advocated for the Freedom Convoy long after the trucks had rolled out of Ottawa
Tamara Lich, one of the organizers of the Freedom Convoy, was unjustly arrested in February, resulting in what some have described as political persecution in Canada. Throughout her two arrests and subsequent imprisonments, the Justice Centre defended this Metis grandmother with tenacity, securing her release on both occasions. It was our honour to award her the 2022 George Jonas Freedom Award, celebrating her remarkable efforts to stand against tyrannical government overreach.
We participated in the historic Public Order Emergency Commission
Even as the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa was winding down and truckers had begun leaving our nation’s capital, the Government of Canada invoked the Emergencies Act. Using unnecessary draconian powers, the government violently disbanded the protestors and froze Canadians’ bank accounts, sending all Canadians an unforgettable message about the fragility of the right to protest in Canada. Fortunately, the invocation of the Act triggered an obligation on the government to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the invocation, and to determine whether the Freedom Convoy amounted to a serious threat to national security.
In October and November, Justice Centre lawyers were in Ottawa to participate in the inquiry, to cross-examine many witnesses including Prime Minister Trudeau, and to challenge federal narratives about protestors and the security of the nation. The findings of the Commission will be released in February of 2023. Regardless of what the Commission’s report in February will say, the Justice Centre had already commenced a court action against the federal government in February of 2022, seeking a declaration that the Prime Minister had no legal basis to invoke the Emergencies Act. This court action will set an important precedent for future federal governments and will make a significant impact on how Canadians think about protests, about government accountability, and about the strength of democratic institutions and processes.
We defended freedom of expression from coast to coast
On the west coast, the Justice Centre funded the legal defense of Amy Hamm, who was threatened with professional discipline after co-sponsoring the installation of a billboard supporting free speech around gender issues. On the east coast, the Justice Centre Director of French Canada, Samuel Bachand, delivered addresses and spoke at conferences about the problematic aspects of Bill C-11, which would allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to limit online freedom of expression. And, across Canada, the Justice Centre helped thousands of Canadians to connect with their elected and unelected officials about their serious concerns regarding Bill C-11 and Bill 36.
We took on a fierce challenge for the mobility rights of Canadians
In response to vaccination mandates that prevented Canadians from travelling within their own country, the Justice Centre filed suits on behalf of Maxime Bernier, and on behalf of Brian Peckford, the only surviving drafter and signatory to the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our team opposed the idea that governments could strip their own citizens of their rights to mobility, conscience, security, and privacy. Fortunately, the mandates were dropped in June. The Justice Centre was the first organization in Canada to file a court action against the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app, which violated the Charter freedom of Canadians to enter and leave their own country freely. We represented individuals who had received punitive fines and mobilized Canadians to voice their concerns to their own Members of Parliament. Five weeks after filing our court action against the federal government, it dropped the requirement to use ArriveCAN for returning Canadian travellers.
As the year draws to a close, we reflect upon the many challenges we have faced together.Even though the principles of our democracy and Constitution have been threatened by our federal and provincial governments, we also reflect upon the immense courage and fortitude of Canadians to stand against oppressive policies, to band together in defense of constitutional rights and freedoms, and to protect the future of our great country. Thank you for partnering with us. It is because of you that we have been able to achieve these successes. But the work is far from over. We are continuing to fight for doctors, nurses, students, parents, truckers, and Canadians from all walks of life – join us in this work with your year-end donation. Because of your support, we are entering the New Year with renewed resolve and courage for the critical battles that lie ahead, confident that we will be able to celebrate many victories with you at this time next year.
Warm wishes for 2023, The Justice Centre Team
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