Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Bill 42 election 'gag law' ruled unconstitutional

Provisions in the controversial law restricting third-party spending on political advertising in provincial elections were struck down this afternoon by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Bill 42 was ruled to be a constitutional violation of free speech rights. The full written decision is expected to be released Monday.

The legislation restricted third-party spending to no more than $3000 in one electoral district and $150,000 province-wide.

The unions involved in bringing the case to the Supreme Court included the British Columbia Teachers' Federation and the British Columbia Nurses' Union.

“It’s a victory for free speech,” Irene Lanzinger, president of the BCTF told The Hook.

“We felt very strongly that the Liberals were attempting to restrict our right to free speech before the election,” she said.

Joseph Arvay, one of the lawyers who argued the case was thrilled with the decision.

“We got everything we wanted. It's a complete win,” said Arvay.

“Bill 42 is a bad law and the court says so.”

The Canadian Office & Professional Employees union (COPE 378) applauded the decision. The organization had started the MoveForwardBC website to cut costs on advertising to abide by Bill 42.

“We felt from the very beginning the law was put in place to silence the unions and silence the opposition to the government,” said Lori Mayhew, secretary treasurer of COPE 378.

“This ruling really just confirms that.”

The BC Civil Liberties Association supported the ruling and accused the government of being "calculated," in its timing of the law "to limit the ability of citizens to bring the matter to court," said Robert Holmes, the organization's president in press release.

The BCNDP have also expressed their satisfaction with the decision.

"I think it’s a victory for the people of BC over an arrogant government,” said Mike Farnworth, the party's opposition house leader.

“I don’t think it will have much effect on this election but in the future, what it says, is this government went way too far when trying to control and stifle debate."

Attorney General Wally Oppal will not be commenting on the decision until after he has reviewed the written decision expected Monday, said Shawn Robins, communications director for the Attorney General's office.

“He’ll determine at that time . . . what the implications are and what avenues are available,” he said.

Morgan J. Modjeski reports for The Hook

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus