The Interim received a copy of the following letter.
January 19th, 1984
Canadian Human Rights Commission,
257 Slater Street,
Re: House of Commons of Canada Bill C 169 (An act to Amend The Canadian Elections Act)
As a Canadian citizen resident in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I hereby file an official complaint against the House of Commons of Canada for purporting to violate my right of freedom of expression, as guaranteed to me by Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 2 reads in part:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(b) Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
Bill C-169, and in particular Section 15 thereof which purports to enact a new Section 72 of the Canada Elections Act, violates or attempts to violate my right to freedom of expression as set out in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This is a matter of urgent concern, which demands your immediate attention because:
- Bill C-169 was passed by the House of Commons in a surreptitious fashion without adequate discussion, and reportedly without due regard to legal opinions provided to the Government of Canada and to the House of Commons of Canada, to the effect the enactment constituted a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The measure had the express consent of all political partied of the House of Commons, and it is therefore futile to appeal to any member or party of that House for redress.
- I understand that I am free to challenge the provisions of Bill C-169 in the Courts, but have neither the time, money nor health to do so.
- I am free to ignore the provisions of Bill C-169 complained of, at my personal risk, and I intend to do so. However, Bill C-169 is certain to restrict my right of free expression during the next Federal Canadian election, because it also contains restrictions on printers and others on whom I would need to rely, in order to make meaningful my right of free expression during the election campaign.
- There is considerable urgency to this matter, because my freedom of expression will be illegally restricted during the next Federal election campaign, and subsequent campaigns, so that a victory during or after an election campaign is of little use until the next election campaign. I want my rights respected for the first Federal election from now, likely to be held in 1984 or early 1985. There are other courses of action for citizens concerned about the elections beyond that.
- Newspapers and some other elements of the media are in conflict of interest position. Therefore I cannot appeal to them to challenge Bill C-169, because it is in their financial interest, and it adds to their political powers, to see individual citizens like me have our freedom of expression limited while the media is not limited in the same way.
I respectfully request immediate action from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, including Court action if necessary to restore my rights of freedom of expression.
Thank you for your consideration of the matter.
Ernest A. Wehrle
Watch for the reply to this letter next month.