Calgary withdraws charges in anti-free speech transit by-law case

The Democracy Fund clients denied disclosure and their day in court.

CALGARY: The City of Calgary has dropped all charges against two men who were alleged to have interfered with the comfort of an unknown transit user while en route to the "1 Million March 4 Children" in September 2023.

News of the withdrawn charges came late last week when Alan Honner, The Democracy Fund’s Litigation Director and lawyer for both men, received an email from the City of Calgary advising that the charges have been withdrawn and there will be no court appearance. 

The by-law in question prohibits anyone on transit property from engaging in activity that would “interfere with the comfort, convenience or quiet use and enjoyment of the transit system of any reasonable person.”

Neither of the two men were told by police what they did to contravene the by-law. They report having had a private conversation with a like-minded passenger in a train that was mostly empty. When the two men exited the train, they were detained by enforcement officers who ticketed and summonsed them to a court date in late November 2023.

One of the men was handcuffed while officers attempted to confirm his identity.

Honner did not receive disclosure despite having made two requests to the city. Now that the charges have been withdrawn, there is no requirement for Calgary to provide disclosure as there is no case to answer or defend.

According to Honner, he will meet with his clients to discuss whether they intend to pursue information about their withdrawn charges through another legal avenue. 

In the meantime, TDF continues to voice concern over by-laws that punish private communications that are controversial but not criminal, including the City of London’s Graphic Image Delivery By-law and Calgary’s Safe & Inclusive Access By-law.

To support our work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation on this page.

About The Democracy Fund:

Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.

E-transfer (Canada):
[email protected] - password democracy if required

Cheques made out to The Democracy Fund:
PO Box 61035 Eglinton/Dufferin RO
Toronto, ON M6E 5B2

🚨 For E-transfer and cheque donations, please include the following legally required information:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Full address
  • If making a corporate or business contribution, the corporation or business' name