CCLA is a human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada. As was established in the organisation’s founding principles, CCLA is the pre-eminent voice advocating for the rights and freedoms of all Canadians and all persons living in Canada. We are a leader in protecting rights and have earned widespread respect for our principled stand on such issues as national security, censorship, capital punishment, and police and state accountability —with a fearless voice on civil liberties, human rights and democratic freedoms.
Committed to Rights and Freedoms. Dedicated to Advocacy and Education.
We believe that everyone should be treated equitably and that the legal system should work for the people, not against them.
We exist to...
How We Work
CCLA has developed a unique model of advocacy that supports five core activities: monitoring, litigation, research, public education, and civic engagement and mobilization. Currently, CCLA’s work is focused on the following thematic areas: Fundamental Freedoms, Criminal Justice, Equality, Privacy and Education. These defined focuses and a storied presence within various court levels has allowed us to make the biggest impact possible. Our work is guided by principles, evidence and expertise, rather than ideology, profit or public opinion.
CCLA staff monitor legal cases at all levels of courts across Canada, and provincial, territorial, and federal legislation as a foundation for our strategic engagement in litigation and research. We work with law firms and legal clinics, legal student volunteers in relation with Pro Bono Students Canada, which allows us to hear concerns raised by individuals and groups and keep our “ear to the ground.”
CCLA has intervened and acted in hundreds of court cases over more than fifty years, including many leading cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. In each of its interventions CCLA presents a unique civil liberties perspective on the case, providing the courts with information to fully appreciate and take into account fundamental democratic values. Over the years, CCLA has developed an unparalleled expertise on civil liberties issues, and is uniquely placed to conduct high impact interventions in legal cases. To carry out this extensive litigation in all levels of Canadian courts, CCLA creates and maintains partnerships with top law firms across Canada. CCLA has also initiated litigation in certain instances to bring issues to the court that individuals may find difficult to challenge.
CCLA has formed several key partnerships which allow it to conduct its comprehensive research. It benefits from the contributions of several law firms and many academics who serve in various capacities, from advisory group members to members of the CCLA’s Board. The issues that are brought to the Association’s attention through the monitoring network are apprised and evaluated through research processes. Our ongoing research, performed by legal and program staff, volunteers and students, enables all of our advocacy strategies.
CCLA is proud to provide public programming to educate people in Canada on their rights and freedoms. Each year we reach 11,000+ students, from elementary to graduate level, within public, separate, and private educational institutions. Generously funded through private donations and a Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) grant, our ‘Civil Liberties in the Classroom’ and ‘Teaching Civil Liberties’ programs provide schools, school boards, faculties of education, community groups, and nonprofit agencies with workshops, seminars, and in-class sessions.
Additionally, CCLA offers educational resources and workshops, available at cclet.org, including:
- Lesson Plans for elementary and high school social studies class use
- Student contests
- A civil liberties book list
- Op-eds and opinion pieces
- Discussion materials
At CCLA we believe democracy depends on an active, vigilant population that thinks critically and welcomes debate. CCLA is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on civil liberties issues. We often provide submissions on critical civil liberties questions before Parliamentary Committees, at legislative hearings, and at municipal councils, and we have intervened at public inquiries.