Advertising on public transit is a right: Supreme Court of Canada

In the case of Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority vs. Canadian Federation of Students-BC, the country's highest court unanimously upheld advertising on public transit as a freedom of expression right.

The Canadian Federation of Students-BC and the BC Teachers’ Federation won the right to advertise on public transit Friday. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the student fed’s suit against the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, which had rejected ads on the basis that they created an ‘unwelcoming environment’ for commuters. The ads, part of the Federation of Students’ ‘Rock the Vote’ campaign, were posted alongside public transit buses by the two organizations in the months leading up to the provincial election in 2005, and encouraged students to get to know issues that were top of mind for student and youth groups, like the environment and tuition fees.

In a unanimous ruling, the court found the advertising on public transit to be a right – one of freedom of expression, protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a recent release, Shamus Reid, chairperson of the student federation, said ‘this decision ensures the public’s right to use public media to create dialogue on the issues that impact our lives.’