Ontario court strikes down “false statements” prohibition in federal election law

Date Closed

February 19, 2021

Lead Office

Toronto

On February 19, 2021, in Canadian Constitution Foundation v. Canada (Attorney General), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down section 91(1) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (the “CEA”) as an unconstitutional limit on the freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Section 91(1) of the CEA prohibited a person or entity from making or publishing certain false statements during a federal election about candidates, prospective candidates, party leaders, or other public figures. In striking down the law, the court held that it unreasonably limited the freedom of expression by capturing false statements made unknowingly. The court therefore declared section 91(1) of the CEA to be of no force or effect, effective immediately. The Attorney General of Canada declined to appeal.

McCarthy Tétrault represented the Canadian Constitution Foundation as the successful applicant in the case, with a team led by Adam Goldenberg that included Connor Bildfell and Solomon McKenzie.

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