our mission & vision

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our mission

CCLA IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION COMMITTED TO DEFENDING THE RIGHTS, DIGNITY, SAFETY, AND FREEDOMS OF ALL PEOPLE IN CANADA.

CCLA fights for the civil liberties, human rights, and democratic freedoms of all people across Canada. Founded in 1964, we are an independent, national, nongovernmental organization, working in the courts, before legislative committees, in the classrooms, and in the streets, protecting the dignity and rights of people in Canada

our vision

WE BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE TREATED EQUITABLY AND THAT THE LEGAL SYSTEM SHOULD WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, NOT AGAINST THEM.

CCLA believes that every person in Canada should be entitled to basic rights, freedoms, dignity and respect. We have a long history of defending Canadians and we believe it is imperative to take a stand against injustice and oppression. We work locally in partnership with pro-bono lawyers to actively fight unjust law to ensure that our legal system works for the people, not against them.

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our values

WE EXIST TO HELP PEOPLE.

For over 50 years, CCLA has been Canada’s national civil liberties organization. Working with dedicated pro-bono lawyers from across the country, CCLA has intervened in courts at all levels, been vocal in the press and broadcast media, and advocated strategically and effectively to protect the rights and freedoms of all persons in Canada.  CCLA has been at the forefront of all of the cutting edge civil liberties debates since our founding in 1964. CCLA has been a leader in protecting rights, and has earned widespread respect for its principled stand on such issues as national security, censorship, capital punishment, and police and state accountability.

WE EXIST TO FIGHT INJUSTICE.

CCLA fights for the civil liberties, human rights, and democratic freedoms of all people across Canada. Founded in 1964, we are an independent, national, nongovernmental organization, working in the courts, before legislative committees, in the classrooms, and in the streets, protecting the rights and freedoms cherished by Canadians and entrenched in our civil liberties debates since our founding in 1964. CCLA has been a leader in protecting rights, and has earned widespread respect for its principled stand on such issues as national security, censorship, capital punishment, and police and state accountability.

WE EXIST TO MAKE TOMORROW’S CANADA BETTER.

Each year our teachers and lawyers reach over 10,000 primary to graduate level students, from a wide range of public, separate, and private educational institutions. In 2019, we reached over 12,000 kids in Canada. Through various projects, many funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario’s (LFO) Catalyst Grant, we provide free workshops, seminars, and in-class sessions in schools, educational institutions, and faculties of education, educating citizens about their rights and freedoms.

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, and Privacy. These defined focuses and a storied presence within various court levels has allowed us to make the biggest impact possible.

CCLA advocates in five main ways:

Litigation

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.

Civic Engagement and Mobilization

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. We have also developed a web portal, called TalkRights, to provide accessible information about rights for a general audience.

Monitoring

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, and maintain an active public enquiries program which allows us to hear concerns raised by individuals and groups and keep our “ear to the ground.”

Research

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.

Public Education

CCLA is proud to provide public programming to educate all Canadians 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 www.ccla.org/education, 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
  • That’s Not Fair! animated video series for children 7-11. Watch at http://thatsnotfair.ca/episodes.
  • The Peer Privacy Protectors Guidebook, funded through the 2016-17 Contributions Grant Program, Office of the Privacy Commissioner, available at https://pppp.ccla.org.