Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Procureur Général), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326

The appellant sought a declaration that s. 30 of the Alberta Judicature Act (the "Act") contravenes ss. 2(b) and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which respectively guarantee freedom of expression and legal equality. Section 30(1) of the Act prohibits the publication of any detail relating to matrimonial proceedings other than the names, addresses and occupations of the parties and witnesses; a concise statement of the charges, defences, counter-charges and legal submissions; and the summing up of the judge, the finding of the jury and the judgment of the court. Section 30(2) prohibits the publication before trial of anything contained in the pleadings of civil proceedings, except the names of the parties and the general nature of the claim and of the defence. Section 30(3) provides for various types and forms of publication when ordered by the court, including the publication of matters otherwise prohibited. Both the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Appeal dismissed the application on the ground that s. 30 constitutes a reasonable limit to s. 2(b) under s. 1 of the Charter and that it did not violate s. 15.

Held (La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka JJ. dissenting in part): The appeal should be allowed…. Section 30(1) and (2) of the Act infringe s. 2(b) of the Charter and are not justifiable under s. 1 of the Charter. In light of this conclusion, it is not necessary to deal with the argument based on s. 15 of the Charter.

Per Dickson C.J. and Lamer and Cory JJ.:….Because s. 30(1) and (2) contravene s. 2(b), and in light of the conclusion that it cannot be justified pursuant to s. 1 of the Charter, it is not necessary to deal with the argument based on s. 15 of the Charter.

Per Wilson J.:…The Charter should be applied to individual cases using a contextual rather than an abstract approach. A contextual approach recognizes that a particular right or freedom may have a different value depending on the context and brings into sharp relief the aspect of the right or freedom which is truly at stake in the case as well as the relevant aspects of any values in competition with it. This approach is more sensitive to the reality of the dilemma posed by the particular facts of a case and is more conducive to finding a fair and just compromise between two competing values under s. 1. The importance of a Charter's right or freedom, therefore, must be assessed in context rather than in the abstract and its purpose must also be ascertained in context.

Section 30(2) of the Act infringes s. 2(b) of the Charter and is not justifiable under s. 1. In light of the conclusion with respect to ss. 2(b) and 1 of the Charter, it is not necessary to deal with the appellant's contention that s. 30(1) and (2) of the Act violate s. 15 of the Charter.

Per La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka JJ. (dissenting in part): …Section 30(2) of the Act infringes s. 2(b) of the Charter and is not justifiable under s. 1. Section 30(2) is simply too broad a restriction without adequate justification to afford a defence under s. 1.

Section 30 of the Act does not infringe s. 15 of the Charter. Section 15 is limited to individuals and does (page 1331) not apply to corporations… In any event, although s. 30 imposes a prohibition not found in other jurisdictions in Canada, and discriminates against print media and between newspapers in general circulation and professional journals, these distinctions do not fall within the ambit of s. 15.

| Return to Topic Menu | Return to Main Menu |