A courtroom in Osgoode Hall. Photograph by Padraic Ryan, Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) uploaded to Wikimedia. Credit: Padraic Ryan

UPDATE: the appeal was dropped before being heard by the ONCA

The Ontario Court of Appeal has granted the Christian Heritage Party leave [permission] to appeal a October 2018 Ontario Divisional Court decision which was in the CHP’s favour.

In October 2018, a three-judge panel “quashed” an August 2016 City of Hamilton decision to remove bus shelter ads which caused offence to many in Hamilton’s transgender community and that community’s supporters.

The Divisional Court provided no remedy for the Christian Heritage Party and provided no direction to the City of Hamilton on how to proceed if the CHP resubmitted the advertisements for posting.

The Court carefully weaved their ruling to avoid weighting in upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues the CHP attempted to advance, and to avoid setting any precedent for other judges to cite in the future.

The decision, written by Justice Michael N. Varpio, is summed up in its fifth paragraph: “we find that both the Decision and the City’s subsequent Motion must be quashed.  The parties agree that both the Decision and the Motion are subject to the Charter.  As a result, the City was required to balance the competing Charter interests.  The City failed to consider the applicants’ right to political speech at all.  For that reason, the Decision cannot stand. In light of this finding, we do not need to discuss the parties’ other arguments.”

Hamilton City Council decided in December to not appeal the Divisional Court ruling against it.

The Christian Heritage Party, despite being victorious, sought permission from the Ontario Court of Appeal to file appeal.

A date for the appeal oral arguments has not been set.

For background on the legal issues, here’s my coverage of the oral arguments from the June 2018 hearing: Divisional Court Hears Arguments in CHP v City of Hamilton: Must Decide if City’s Actions Were Reasonable or Correct

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