Canadian Unions Fight Political Restrictions

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A group of public sector unions has sued the British Columbia government, claiming that new amendments to election laws that impose spending limits on third-party advertising are unconstitutional.

     Widely panned as a gag law, the amendments impose a $150,000 limit on third-party advertisements both during a “campaign period” of 28 days between the calling of an election and the vote, and a “pre-campaign period” of 60 days before an election is called.
     The plaintiffs, including teachers, nurses, and government employees unions, all claim to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on pre-election and other advertising in the past. Together, the unions claim more than 250,000 members. They say the new amendments will have the effect of “restricting the reasoned political discourse which ensures that governmental policy choices are sensitive to the needs and concerns of a broad range of citizens.”
     The spending limits would apply to “advertising that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated,” the complaint states.
     The unions want the amendments declared unconstitutional. They are represented by Joseph Arvay and Leo McGrady in B.C. Supreme Court.

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