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Abstract

There has been significant progress regarding the law on public demonstrations since the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the freedom of peaceful assembly, one of the four fundamental freedoms protected by section 2 of the Charter, is the least judicially explored freedom. Rather than undertake a free-standing freedom of peaceful assembly analysis, Canadian courts tend to subsume the analysis into freedom of expression. As illustrated by the increasingly frequent occurrence of demonstrations today, freedom of peaceful assembly is an emerging and ongoing issue in constitutional law. Accordingly, it is more crucial than ever that peaceful assembly law be developed and utilized in a manner consonant with the increasing frequency of demonstrations in today’s society.

In this paper, the author undertakes a critique of the freedom of peaceful assembly analysis as currently applied by the courts and presents a doctrinal analysis aiming to establish potential features of a stand-alone freedom of peaceful assembly Charter analysis. In particular, the author addresses how Canadian courts should approach peaceful assembly as an independent freedom, in light of the judicial treatment of other freedoms in current jurisprudence.

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