Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

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Justice Centre for
Constitutional Freedoms
FounderJohn Carpay
Registration no.817174865-RR0001[1]
Legal statusCharitable organization[1]
PurposeLegal advocacy
HeadquartersCalgary, Alberta, Canada
John Carpay

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) is a Canadian right-wing[2][3][4][5][6] legal advocacy organization[6] specializing in Canadian constitutional law, specifically in interpretations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[7] Based in Calgary, Alberta,[7] the organization was founded in 2010 by John Carpay,[8] a former Alberta provincial director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation[9] and a former candidate of the federal Reform Party and provincial Wildrose Party[10][11] who later joined the United Conservative Party.[12]

Major court cases[edit]

The JCCF has argued past cases before the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba, and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.[13]

Allen v Alberta[edit]

Allen v Alberta was a legal challenge to the Government of Alberta's monopoly on health insurance within the province (as it applies to seeking out-of-province treatment) by Darcy Allen, who had elected to pay $77,000 to undergo surgery for his chronic back pain in Montana rather than wait for treatment in Alberta.[14] The case closely mirrored the 2005 case of Chaoulli v Quebec (AG) where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a government monopoly on health insurance, when combined with extremely long wait lists before care could be provided, was a violation of the individual's right to life, liberty, and security of the person – all of which are guaranteed under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Court of Queen's Bench ruled against Allen on 31 March 2014.[14][15]

Wilson v University of Calgary[edit]

A campus anti-abortion club caused controversy at the University of Calgary when they erected a graphic display as part of a "Genocide Awareness Project" which compared and equated the results of an abortion with historical atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. This case was the ninth time in which the group had put on the display. University security staff requested that the students turn the graphic portions of their display inward, away from passers-by. When the eight students running the display refused to comply, the university initiated non-academic misconduct proceedings against them. The school's Vice-Provost ruled that the actions constituted misconduct and penalized the students with a formal written warning.[16]

This penalty was appealed to the University of Calgary's Board of Governors which refused to hear the appeal and upheld the penalty. The students then requested that the Court of Queen's Bench order the Board of Governors to allow an appeal.[17] The court ruled in April 2014 that the Board of Governors' decision to not hear the appeal of the students "[lacked] justification, transparency and intelligibility" and ordered the board to hear the students' appeal.[18]

Intervenor status[edit]

The JCCF has acted as an intervenor in several court cases involving questions of constitutional rights; particularly those involving evangelical Christians, anti-abortion groups, or associated groups that have felt their religious values have been compromised. By acting as an intervenor, the JCCF is able to have their position on the legal questions brought before the court without actually being the official legal counsel for the individuals and organizations on whose behalf the JCCF was intervening.

Trinity Western University[edit]

In 2012 the private evangelical school Trinity Western University (TWU) completed a proposal to establish its own law school. Several groups objected to the establishment of this law school because of TWU's Community Covenant Agreement, a code of conduct which is mandatory for all students to agree to. Unlike codes of conduct at many universities throughout Canada, however, TWU's Community Covenant Agreement requires explicit acceptance of an evangelical ethical framework including bans on gossip, vulgar language, pornography, and sexual conduct "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman".[19]

As a result of opposition to the Community Covenant Agreement the memberships of the Law Society of Upper Canada (now the Law Society of Ontario), the Law Society of British Columbia,[20] and the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society voted to not accredit the law school. This prevented graduates from being automatically admitted to practice law in those three provinces, though they were still able to apply for individual admission to the society after graduation.

The JCCF acted as an intervenor in the cases of Trinity Western University v Nova Scotia Barristers' Society (court ruled in favour of TWU), Trinity Western University v The Law Society of Upper Canada (court ruled in favour of LSUC), and Trinity Western University v Law Society of British Columbia (court ruled in favour of TWU).

Both the Ontario and BC rulings were appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, with the JCCF intervening in both cases.[21] On 15 June 2018 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the law societies in 7–2 decisions for both Trinity Western University v Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University.[22] The majority decisions said that TWU's Community Covenant would deter LGBT students from attending the proposed law school and that equal access to legal education, diversity in the legal profession and preventing harm to LGBT students was in the public interest.[23]

Campus Freedom Index[edit]

The JCCF publishes a yearly report authored by John Carpay and Michael Kennedy which rates Canadian universities and students' unions on their adherence to the principles of freedom of speech.[24] The annual report gives grades to universities and students' unions based on JCCF's opinion of the strength of their principles and procedures regarding freedom of speech as well as actions regarding freedom of speech.

The Cape Breton University Students' Union criticized JCCF's rankings as being politically motivated and using old information after it was docked for a ban on religious and political groups approaching people.[25] Officials at Ryerson University defended itself against its low scores noting that the JCCF rankings fail to take into account legal anti-hate speech provisions under federal and provincial laws.[26]


While the JCCF describes itself as a non-partisan group,[27] it has published endorsements by individuals and organizations from the right wing of the political spectrum:[28]


  1. ^ a b "Support the Justice Centre". Calgary, Alberta: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  2. ^ Dobbin, Murray (2015). "Canada's Progressive Politics Need Renewal". In Finn, Ed. Canada After Harper. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. p. 294. ISBN 978-1-4594-0943-9.
  3. ^ Climenhaga, David (2018). "The Wealthy U.S. Libertarians Supporting Canada's Right-Wing Think-Tanks" (PDF). CCPA Monitor. Vol. 25 no. 3. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. pp. 8–9. ISSN 1198-497X. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  4. ^ Appel, Jeremy (17 November 2018). "Kenney Must Take Right-Wing Extremism More Seriously". Medicine Hat News. Medicine Hat, Alberta: Continental Newspapers. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  5. ^ Climenhaga, David (5 July 2018). "What Does the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Get from Its Right-Wing US Partner?". The Tyee. Vancouver. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b Perryman, Benjamin (17 August 2015). "The Dangers of Deleting the Digital Footprint of Judges". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Home Page". Calgary, Alberta: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  8. ^ Simpson, Kaitlyn (13 February 2017). "Inside the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms". The Varsity. Toronto. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  9. ^ "John Carpay". Montreal: MEI. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ History of Federal Ridings Since 1867, accessed 22 May 2014, http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Include=&Language=E&rid=877&Search=Det
  11. ^ Candidates by Party, accessed 22 May 2014, http://results.elections.ab.ca/wtPartyCandidatesWAP.htm?
  12. ^ Rieger, Sarah (11 November 2018). "Calgary Lawyer Challenging Gay–Straight Alliance Bill Compares Pride Flags to Swastikas". CBC News. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Our Cases". Calgary, Alberta: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  14. ^ a b Gerson, Jen (2 April 2014). "Alberta Rules Against Private Health Insurance Claim in Apparent Clash with Supreme Court". National Post. Toronto. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  15. ^ "Decision Re: Allen v Alberta" (PDF). Retrieved 14 November 2014 – via Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
  16. ^ "Anti-Abortion Display Was Misconduct: University". CBC News. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  17. ^ "U of C Anti-Abortion Activists Ask Court to Undo Reprimand". CBC News. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  18. ^ "Wilson v University of Calgary, 2014 ABQB 190". CanLII. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  19. ^ "Community Covenant Agreement" (PDF). Student Handbook. Trinity Western University.
  20. ^ Cohen, Gail; Taddese, Yamri (31 October 2014). "B.C. Lawyers Say No to TWU Law School". Legal Feeds. Toronto: Thomson Reuters Canada. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  21. ^ Kulig, Paula (9 August 2017). "Chief Justice's Rare Order in Trinity Western Case Ensures 'All Voices Could Be Heard'". The Lawyer's Daily. Toronto: LexisNexis Canada. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  22. ^ Fine, Sean (15 June 2018). "Supreme Court Upholds Provincial Law Societies' Right to Reject Graduates from Proposed Christian Law School". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  23. ^ Harris, Kathleen (15 June 2018). "Trinity Western Loses Fight for Christian Law School". CBC News. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  24. ^ Campus Freedom Index, accessed on 22 May 2014, http://wpmedia.news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/2012-campus-freedom-index1.pdf
  25. ^ Ayers, Tom (3 October 2014). "Think-Tank Questions Freedom of Speech on Some Nova Scotia Campuses". The Chronicle Herald. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  26. ^ Del Giallo, Sarah (7 November 2012). "Ryerson's Support for Free Speech Criticized". The Ryersonian. Toronto. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  27. ^ "Welcome to the Justice Centre". Calgary, Alberta: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Endorsements". Calgary, Alberta: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Retrieved 16 November 2014.

External links[edit]