Alberta Press Act Reference (1938)

Alberta Press Act Reference (1938), also called Reference Re Alberta Legislation, concerned 4 Alberta statutes, one of which, the Accurate News and Information Act, would have compelled each newspaper in the province, when called upon to do so by a government official, to publish the government's rebuttal of criticism that had appeared in the newspaper.

Alberta Press Act Reference (1938), also called Reference Re Alberta Legislation, concerned 4 Alberta statutes, one of which, the Accurate News and Information Act, would have compelled each newspaper in the province, when called upon to do so by a government official, to publish the government's rebuttal of criticism that had appeared in the newspaper. The Supreme Court of Canada judged that the bill was ultra vires the jurisdiction of the provincial legislature. Five of the six judges gave, as the primary reason for their decision, the reason that the Accurate News and Information Act was ancillary to the Alberta Social Credit Act, which had been declared invalid by the court in this reference. As such the Accurate News and Information Act was also found to be invalid. Two judges, however, added that free political discussion was too important to Canada as a whole to be treated as a local and private matter, and one other judge argued that legislation affecting freedom of the press in discussing public affairs was within the criminal law power of Parliament. As our Constitution is declared in its preamble to be similar in principle to that of the UK, 3 court judges declared that free public discussion is the breath of life for our parliamentary institutions.