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One man takes on BC's gag law, again

First he took on the NDP and now it’s the Liberals’ turn. Vancouver resident, Garry Nixon is challenging the BC Liberals’ “gag law” by breaking the rules in Gordon Campbell’s own riding of Point Grey.

Ten years ago, Garry Nixon won a court challenge against Glen Clark and the NDP for a law that restricted third-party advertising before an election. At the time, opposition leader Gordon Campbell was a vocal opponent of the law.

Then last year the B.C. Liberals announced Bill 42, a similar law that restricted third-party advertisers to spending a maximum of $150,000, 60 days before the election, but the law was ruled unconstitutional.

Nixon agrees.

“I was appalled at the NDP and I am even more appalled at the Liberals who opposed it and now are in favour of it,” said Nixon.

The tax accountant and former math teacher, is challenging Bill 42 by exceeding the spending limit before an election – spending over the $ 3,000 threshold with ads in local papers.

Robert Holmes, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association president, called the law repressive.

Under Bill 42, any third-party still has to register with Elections B.C.

“We oppose the idea that people should have to register to engage in political speech,” said Holmes. He also asked, “Why should the media get a big exemption when people like Garry Nixon get caught up in the law?”

Holmes added that Nixon should confront politicians rather than the courts since judges have already allowed some advertising restrictions. This precedent weakens Nixon’s chances of winning.

For Nixon this is coming out of his pocket. The last court case – which he won – still cost him tens of thousands of dollars.

“I did it against the NDP and now I’m doing it against the Liberals because they’re doing exactly the same thing,” said Nixon. “Hopefully if it’s done twice in a row they will stop presenting that law.”

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