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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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 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: