The Canadian Constitution Foundation has announced that the charges against Marta and Lech Jaworski has been dropped by the Municipality of Clarington. This is fantastic news and truly heartening. I am glad to live in a country where someone can defend their rights against government intrusion, and actually win.
This vindication of course does not make up for the months of strain that municipal officials put on this innocent family. It doesn’t make up for the threat to their future that the $50 000 fine represented. Hopefully the Jaworski’s victory will make government officials more hesitant in the way that they wield power.
This the press release from the CFF:
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2011.
Liberty Summer Seminar & Jaworski Family Win Freedom of Assembly
The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) today announced that it has succeeded in getting charges dropped against Marta and Lech Jaworski for hosting the Liberty Summer Seminar on their rural property in the Municipality of Clarington.
For video footage, click here.
The Liberty Summer Seminar (LSS) has been held annually outdoors at the Jaworskis’ home for 10 years. The seminar brings together university professors, think-tank executives, and liberty-minded activists to speak to an audience consisting primarily of students about political and economic freedom.
The Jaworskis, who fled Poland in 1984 while it was still a totalitarian regime, were astonished to find themselves charged in August, 2010 with an offence under Ontario’s Planning Act, merely for hosting the seminar on their 20-acre property. “We left Poland seeking freedom, but when we tried to help celebrate freedom in Canada, we found ourselves being treated like suspected criminals,” said Marta Jaworski, 57.
The Jaworskis retained a local lawyer to help them fight the charges but Clarington refused to budge.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
In December, 2010 the CCF took on the case. The CCF is a registered charitable organization that engages in public interest litigation in selected cases where it perceives government bodies to be breaching citizens’ constitutional rights.
The CCF filed court documents maintaining that the forbidding of the LSS would constitute a breach of the Jaworskis’ constitutional right to freedom of assembly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The municipality informed the CCF last week that the charges against the Jaworskis would be withdrawn, in recognition of the fact that “their use of the property was purely for the purpose of a peaceful assembly and expressive activity”.
CCF Litigation Director Karen Selick said, “We are very satisfied with this result, and we’re particularly pleased that Clarington conceded the Jaworskis’ constitutional rights instead of putting them through the ordeal of a trial”.