The BCCLA is supporting the right of School Trustee Candidates to campaign in public space, including distributing leaflets at the entrance to schools. Last week the Victoria Confederation of Parents Advisory Councils (VCPAC) issued a letter to trustee candidates advancing VCPAC’s view that campaigning on the sidewalk outside of schools went against the “spirit” of a Board of Education policy that prohibits campaigning in schools.
Said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA: “VCPAC takes the view that instead of supporting the right of candidates to campaign in public space, that we should be supporting VCPAC’s right to freely express its opinion that the Education Board policy should include a prohibition on campaigning outside of schools. Indeed, we have never denied VCPAC’s right to state its opinion, we are rather stating that the opinion in wrong. Candidates have a right to use public space to distribute campaign materials. VCPAC’s repeated attempts to curtail this form of political speech are deeply concerning, especially as it attempts to convey the impression that those who choose to campaign in public space outside of schools are imperiling “the rights of our children”. This is getting the matter precisely backwards: a vigorous commitment to upholding constitutional rights is exactly the active and responsible citizenship we should be modeling for children.”
The BCCLA had urged VCPAC to revise its previous statements in which campaigners who used public space near schools were characterized as disrespecting the Board of Education policy.
“It is disappointing that VCPAC is continuing to attempt to dissuade candidates from campaigning in public space. Our expression rights have two components – in this case, the candidates have a right to campaign and the public has a right to hear them”, Holmes added.
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, (604) 630-9753