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Court Challenge Update – Bill 307, Protecting Elections and Defending Democracy Act, 2021

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With the passage of Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, The Ford government updated the Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016, changing the rules governing third-party advertising. Among the changes most significantly affecting OSSTF/FEESO as a third-party advertiser are the allowable spending limits, the doubling of the extension of limitation, and restriction to 12 months before the election call, and the definition of a third-party advertiser.


The law restricts and limits spending by third-party advertisers during two significant periods of the election cycle:

1) Pre-election period – May 4, 2021 to May 3, 2022, a spending limit of $654,000.00

2) Election Period – May 4, 2022 to June 2, 2022, a spending limit of $109,000.00


Working Families, along with OSSTF/FEESO, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) mounted a court challenge to Bill 254 and won. “The decision nullifies key provisions of the Ford government’s Bill 254, the Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, that were found unconstitutional by the court and violated the Charter section 2(b) (freedom of expression)” said Patrick Dillon, Official Spokesperson for Working Families.


However, shortly after this decision, the Ford government invoked the Notwithstanding Clause against the court ruling, and reintroduced the legislation as Bill 307. OSSTF/FEESO, along with Working Families, mounted a constitutional challenge to the Ford government’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause because of it losing the court decision on Bill 254. “The government was upset that they didn’t get their way with the earlier court judgement and decided to use the nuclear option to silence potential critics,” said Dillon.


Working Families, along with OSSTF/FEESO, will prepare submissions for court on an expedited basis as the legislation is in effect and therefore harms individuals and groups.


Hearing dates are scheduled for June 2022.

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