The Justice Centre has been providing ongoing representation to air passenger rights advocate Dr. Gabor Lukacs, whose postings were being removed and/or hidden from the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA’s) Facebook page.
The Justice Centre first became aware of the CTA censoring Dr. Lukacs’ postings in September 2017, and sent a warning letter to the Agency on September 13 requesting that the Agency cease its unconstitutional censorship and change its Use of Social Media policy to properly respect Charter-protected freedom of expression.
The Justice Centre’s letter explains that the CTA’s censorship of Dr. Lukacs is unlawful, as the CTA is a government body and is required to respect freedom of expression, guaranteed under section 2(b) of the Charter. CTA’s Use of Social Media policy violates section 2(b) of the Charter by prohibiting, for example, comments that include “serious … accusations”, that are “offensive”, “irrelevant” or that do not “add to the normal flow of the discussion.” Further the Justice Centre warns that “[s]hould CTA choose rather to continue to violate Dr. Lukacs’ constitutional freedom, we will have no alternative but to pursue further steps to defend our client’s rights.”
On September 22, 2017, CTA’s Senior General Counsel responded to the Justice Centre’s letter, indicating that CTA was reviewing its policy and had not removed any posts since August 1.
However, when Dr. Lukacs posted on the CTA Facebook page, his post was immediately “hidden” so as not to be visible to others on the CTA Facebook.
On September 28, 2017, the Justice Centre emailed CTA, warning CTA that should CTA continue to violate Dr. Lukacs’ constitutional freedom, it would have no alternative but to pursue further steps to defend Dr. Lukacs’ rights:
Dear Ms. Barker,
We have received your letter dated September 22, 2017, along with the letter of Scott Streiner to BCCLA dated September 15, 2017.
I have called and left voicemails with yourself and with Ms. Green.
Without addressing each point in the letters, I raise two points to address with you:
- You have indicated that CTA is reviewing its Use of Social Media Policy. Is this policy review occurring within a specific and immediate timeline, and if so, please indicate that timeline?
- CTA continues to censor Facebook posts, including two posts of Dr. Lukacs on September 22, 2017. Will CTA cease its continued censorship of Dr. Lukacs?
Your immediate responses to these questions are requested.
As stated in our September 13, 2017 letter, should CTA choose to continue to violate Dr. Lukacs’ constitutional freedom, we will have no alternative but to pursue further steps to defend our client’s rights.
On October 2, 2017, CTA responded that the Agency was “not taking any action to block or delete posts of Dr. Lukacs.”
Hello Mr. Moore.
As Ms. Barker is away from the office, I am responding to your email to her dated September 29th wherein you pose two questions.
With respect to the Use of Social Media Policy, the Agency is looking at a number of factors and does not currently have a definitive timeline for the completion of the review.
With respect to your second question, the Agency is not taking any action to block or delete posts of Dr. Lukacs.
I note that you have left me a voicemail message. Should you wish to speak with me perhaps we could set a time for tomorrow so that I can ensure that I am in my office.
CTA ceased hiding or removing Dr. Lukacs’ posts, until February of 2018, when Dr. Lukacs reported that his postings to the CTA Facebook page were being hidden and marked as spam. The Justice Centre promptly sent a warning letter to the CTA urging it to cease marking the postings of air passenger rights advocate Dr. Gabor Lukacs on its Facebook page as “spam”. This letter noted the previous commitment by CTA to cease censoring Dr. Lukacs’ postings.
In its letter, the Justice Centre requests that the CTA immediately reverse the marking of Dr. Lukacs’ post as “spam” and confirm in writing that it has reversed the censorship of Dr. Lukacs and that it not permit censorship on its Facebook page in the future.
“Should CTA choose rather to continue to violate Dr. Lukacs’ constitutional freedom, we will have no alternative but to pursue further steps to defend our client’s rights,” states the letter, which requests a response from CTA no later than 4:00 p.m. EST, Friday February 16, 2018.
Within 24 hours of sending this second warning letter, Dr. Lukacs’ postings once again became visible on the CTA’s Facebook page.
The Justice Centre continues to monitor this situation.