BC unions launch legal challenge against gag law

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Seven of British Columbia’s largest unions, along with the B.C. Federation of Labour, have decided to launch a legal challenge against Bill 42.

The unions have retained lawyers Joseph Arvay, Q.C. and Leo McGrady, Q.C. to handle the case.

Bill 42 was introduced late in the last legislative session. The government eventually invoked closure to pass the Bill.

Bill 42 attempted to restrict third party election advertising for five months before the next provincial election.

Following broad-based and sustained criticism, Bill 42 was amended but still severely restricts third party election advertising for three months before the next election.

“The Gordon Campbell government is afraid of legitimate criticism and it is fully prepared to violate constitutionally protected free speech rights to silence its critics,” says B.C. Federation of Labour secretary-treasurer Angela Schira.

“This law is a poorly disguised attempt to stack the deck heading into the provincial election less than a year away,” added Schira. “Gordon Campbell loudly and vehemently opposed much weaker spending restrictions when he was in opposition, and now that he is in power has introduced a much more egregious gag law.”

The legal challenge is being prepared on behalf of the Canadian Union of Public Employees B.C., BC Teachers’ Federation, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union 378, BC Nurses’ Union, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, Federation of Post Secondary Educators, Hospital Employees’ Union and the B.C. Federation of Labour.