The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) condemned the CBC for its refusal to run political advertisements outside election periods. The policy came to light when the public broadcaster refused to air federal Conservative party advertisements, arguing that it has a “strict policy” against political advertisements outside election periods.
“The fact that this is being done by a publicly owned broadcasting network makes this interference with freedom of expression all the more offensive,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA, who demanded that the CBC end the policy immediately. “The CBC’s policy of allowing laundry detergent, department store sale, automobile, health product and other commercials, but not political commercials amounts to an unconstitutional interference with the rights and liberties of all Canadians. Political expression does not occur just during election campaigns. In democratic societies, it is ongoing.”
The BCCLA intervened in a lawsuit brought by the Canadian Federation of Students against the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority which contested the ban on political advertising on billboards and buses in public transit facilities in Vancouver.
The case has since been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and judgment has been reserved.
“Regardless of which political party or organization it is that wanted to place advertising on the CBC, having such a policy clearly violates the rights of all Canadians,” said Holmes. “It infringes on the rights of those who organize and want their message to get out. It infringes on the rights of Canadians to hear the views of others. It leaves us with whatever views the CBC, its management and journalists choose to put forward, without the opportunity for others to have their say. That smacks of paternalism and constitutes an unfair and unreasonable filter on what people can say and hear.”
Media Contacts; President, Robert Holmes 604-838-6856
Executive Director, David Eby 778-865-7997