Release: Rancourt v. St. Lewis: Supreme Court judgement harms freedom of expression and fair trial rights in Canada

(OTTAWA, February 18, 2016) – The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) opposes the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgement released today, which denies the appeal application of Dr. Denis Rancourt. (Links below.)

The judgement erodes freedom of speech and fair trial rights in Canada:

• The Court condoned permanent censorship (enforceable by jail) of future and unknown expression if the defendant cannot afford to pay possible damages.

• The Court allowed the defendant to be barred from any defence because he chose to rely solely on the plaintiff’s evidence.

• The Court refused to consider the defendant’s argument that court-ordered legal costs themselves are an unconstitutional infringement on the right of freedom of expression when the plaintiff’s legal costs were paid by the University of Ottawa.

• The Court violated its own constitutional duty by refusing to hear that the Ontario appellate court itself had violated Dr. Rancourt’s French language rights.

• The Court refused to hear that the Canadian common law of judicial bias is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Dr. Rancourt will appeal the Supreme Court’s decision to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, as allowed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada ratified.

Supreme Court judgement of February 18, 2016:
Closing submission:
Originating application submission:

About the Ontario Civil Liberties Association
The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) defends civil liberties at a time when fundamental freedoms are being eroded in all spheres of social life. OCLA opposes institutional policies and decisions that deprive individuals of their personal liberty or exclude individuals from participation in the democratic functions of society.


Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)

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