Defending free expression at Canada’s airports


The Justice Centre is continuing its defense of Canadians’ right to express their views openly in public. Our lawyers were in Alberta’s Provincial Court this past January, in R. v Booyink2013 ABPC 185, to defend seven protesters who had been charged with trespassing for having peacefully expressed their opinions in the public areas of the Calgary International Airport. The Justice Centre relied on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada v Canada, [1991] 1 SCR 139, in which the Court held that airport authorities cannot prohibit the peaceful expression of opinion in the public areas of an airport, because they are government-owned public places.

Judge Fradsham acquitted the defendants in R. v. Booyink, noting that they were peaceful, well-behaved, and did not interfere with any of the airport’s operations.

The Calgary Airport Authority has now applied for an injunction to prohibit the protesters from attending the Airport, making the same argument which the Crown made in R. v. Booyink and which were rejected by Judge Fradsham. The Justice Centre argued this case in Court on October 17, 2013.  This litigation will continue into 2014, and no decision is expected in the near future.