Media Advisory: BCCLA at Supreme Court of Canada to defend right to challenge unconstitutional laws


WHAT: BC Civil Liberties Association at Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in Attorney General of British Columbia v. Council of Canadians with Disabilities (case no. 39430) to defend the right of public interest organizations to bring public interest constitutional challenges against government laws.

WHEN: January 12-13, 2022 at 10:30 am ET/ 7:30 am PT

WHERE: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa)

Ottawa, ON (unceded Algonquin Anishnaabeg Territory) – On January 12-13, 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of Attorney General of British Columbia v. Council of Canadians with Disabilities, which will determine whether the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) has the legal standing to bring a case concerning challenging provisions in BC’s mental health laws.

The case began as a challenge by the CCD against parts of BC’s Mental Health Act and related laws which permit physicians to force psychiatric treatment on people without their consent. Instead of responding to the important issues raised by the CCD, the BC government applied to have the case struck altogether. They argued – and the BC Supreme Court agreed – that the CCD did not meet the criteria for ‘public interesting standing’ because there was no individual plaintiff party to their challenge who was affected by the legislation at issue. The BC Court of Appeal determined that the lower court’s decision wrongly restricted the scope of public interest standing. The BC government appealed the appeals court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The BCCA is intervening in the case to argue that public interest standing should not be restricted. Public interest standing is about access to justice and making sure that, despite real practical barriers, laws can be challenged when they are not consistent with our fundamental rights.

The BCCLA is represented by Elin Sigurdson of Mandell Pinder LLP and Monique Pongracic-Speier, Q.C., of Ethos Law Group LLP.

The BCCLA’s factum is available here