Libel charge against blogger who criticized a Fredericton police officer dropped.
Ottawa (07 May 2012) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) applauds the decision of crown prosecutors in New Brunswick to drop criminal libel charge against blogger Charles LeBlanc.
Libel cases are normally tried in civil court. However, a rarely used section of the Criminal Code allows police to press criminal charges. Section 301 of the Criminal Code says that someone who is found guilty of criminal libel charges can be imprisoned for up to two years.
Mr. LeBlanc, a community activist and critic of the Fredericton police force, was charged in January 2012, under Section 301 of the Criminal Code, for comments he posted on his blog about a city police officer.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), a group of legal scholars at the University of New Brunswick and NUPGE have all publicly questioned the charge against Mr. LeBlanc.
NUPGE argued that the charge violated Section 2 (b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects the fundamental freedom of expression.
In fact, Section 301 of the Criminal Code has already been found to be unconstitutional by courts in three other provinces.
NUPGE also expressed concern that Mr. LeBlanc's arrest was not in the public interest because it would discourage other people from publicly criticizing the police, even when such criticisms are valid and would ultimately benefit the public.
NUPGE is pleased the charges against Mr. LeBlanc have been dropped but remains concerned that police continue to lay charges under Section 301 when several jurisdictions have ruled the law is unconstitutional.
NUPGE is now calling on the federal government to review this section of the Criminal Code and take the necessary legislative steps to ensure freedom of expression is protected and scarce public resources are not wasted on charges and prosecutions that are not in the public interest.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE