December 20, 2023 — The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has rolled out its annual civil liberties report, a festive “naughty and nice” list, scrutinizing government actions throughout the year. The tongue-in-cheek review applauds instances where fundamental freedoms were respected and criticizes those where liberties were compromised.

The Naughty List: Government Actions Under Scrutiny

1. Topping the list is the Rouleau Commission Report, which found itself in hot water for endorsing the Trudeau government’s use of the Emergencies Act during the 2022 Freedom Convoy. Critics argue that the report raises concerns about the extent of government powers and their impact on individual freedoms.

2. A controversial bylaw from the Calgary City Council swiftly secured its place on the naughty list. The hasty restrictions around city facilities, deemed unconstitutional by the CCF, have sparked concerns about potential infringements on freedom of expression.

3. A legal battle involving Dr. Jordan Peterson and the College of Psychologists in Ontario found its way onto the naughty list. The case, revolving around the College’s attempt to regulate speech unrelated to the practice of psychology, raises questions about the balance between professional regulation and free expression.

4. The Military Vaccine Passports policy faced criticism leading to a tribunal deeming it unconstitutional. The mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy was scrutinized for its impact on individuals’ rights to liberty and security of person.

5. Bill C-11, addressing online censorship, stirred controversy by granting the CRTC authority over online streaming platforms. Concerns were raised about potential stifling of individual Canadian creators in favor of established media.

6. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Cambie Surgeries v British Columbia, a case challenging Canada’s healthcare monopoly, highlighted inconsistencies in the law and raised questions about patients’ rights.

7. Waterloo Regional Council found itself on the naughty list for passing an unconstitutional bylaw prohibiting “objectionable” expression on city property, raising concerns about freedom of expression.

8. The Supreme Court’s decision on the Impact Assessment Act marked it as constitutionally problematic, as it conferred extensive authority upon the federal government to regulate projects, potentially overstepping constitutional boundaries.

9. Bill C-18, addressing online news blocking, faced criticism for its impact on media access and freedom, despite Meta abandoning the Canadian news market.

10. The Federal Single Use Plastics Ban faced backlash after the Federal Court overturned the ban, citing federal government intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.

11. Edmonton Transit Service raised eyebrows with a media ban policy, requiring notification for news reporting, which was criticized as an unjustifiable limitation on freedom of expression.

The Nice List: Government Actions Applauded for Balance

1. The Court of Appeal overturned claims of racial discrimination in the Ontario math test for teacher candidates, securing a spot on the nice list and dispelling the notion that math could be “racist.”

2. The Ontario Superior Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Canada’s “first past the post” voting system secured a positive nod on the nice list, affirming the democratic electoral process.

3. Despite a Quebec ban on prayer, the CCF acknowledged voluntary school prayer on the nice list, emphasizing the importance of religious freedom and pushing back against government interference.

4. The Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the right of public interest organizations to fundraise for legal cases, supporting access to justice and earning a place on the nice list.

5. The CCF’s national bestseller, “Pandemic Panic,” documenting government responses to COVID-19, secured a place on the nice list for its contribution to understanding the challenges posed by the pandemic.

6. The CCF’s podcast, “Not Reserving Judgment,” became a hit, offering a unique and entertaining perspective on legal news and securing its spot on the nice list.

Read the Full eBook

If you want to learn more about each of the issues on the list, you can download a free copy of the “2023 Civil Liberties Naughty or Nice List” here.

CCF Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn expressed gratitude to supporters and looked forward to continuing the fight against government overreach in 2024.

About the Canadian Constitution Foundation

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is a national and non-partisan charity committed to safeguarding the constitutionally protected rights and freedoms of Canadians. With a primary objective of preventing government power from encroaching on individual liberties and maintaining the principles of Canadian federalism, the CCF engages in civic engagement, awareness, and educational initiatives related to contemporary constitutional issues.

Additionally, the foundation takes an active role in high-profile court cases, advocating against government overreach and emphasizing adherence to the written text and scheme of Canada’s Constitution. The CCF focuses on areas such as fundamental freedoms (Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), liberty (Section 7), and equality (Section 15). Notably, the foundation defends the federal division of powers between Parliament and the Provinces, aiming to minimize government overreach and uphold the constitutional compromise envisioned by Canada’s Fathers of Confederation. It does not handle private disputes, family law matters, or cases related to police brutality or criminal charges.