Rights Advocacy

Constitutional Litigation:
Advocating for Our Clients’ Rights

For nearly 15 years, our lawyers have represented clients’ constitutional and human rights. Our lawyers have appeared numerous times before the Supreme Court of Canada as well as the Federal Court and many trial courts and human rights tribunals across Canada, including in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. They have appeared as counsel in almost every major religious freedom case before the Supreme Court of Canada since 2008.

In this advocacy work, we have represented national charities, churches, denominational associations, political parties, public interest and advocacy groups, clergy and other individuals, businesses, colleges, universities and seminaries, and other non-profits.

Combined, our lawyers have decades of experience defending clients’ rights to peacefully assemble, express their religious beliefs, participate in the political process, educate their children, and more.

Our team has had commentary on their cases featured in news outlets from Maclean’s Magazine to The Wall Street Journal, from Faith Today to the Catholic Register. We’ve been published in journals such as the Supreme Court Law Review, Christian Legal Journal, Law Matters, Policy Options, and the C2C Journal.

More Than Just Legal Work

Not only do we offer our clients robust legal representation in the courts, we also provide them with everything they need to win in the court of public opinion. Unlike most firms, we offer our clients in-house expert communications services such as media training, crisis management, and media relations.

Our strategic communications division is headed by Peter Stockland, a 40+ year veteran journalist with experience as editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette, editorial page editor of the Calgary Herald, vice-president of English-language magazines for Readers’ Digest Magazines Canada Ltd. and current publisher of the Catholic Register.

We assist our clients in shaping the messaging about their human rights case, and then assist them in pitching targeted op-ed pieces in the media. We coach them in media training and then provide them with opportunities to be interviewed on podcasts and talk shows and for the press.

Competitive and Discounted Rates

We offer competitive rates as well as discounts for church and charity clients.

When we launched The Acacia Group, we carefully structured the firm to minimize overhead without compromising the quality of our services. We now offer some of the most competitive rates in the Canadian market for legal services, including constitutional litigation, and we can assist more people suffering human rights violations or complaints.

Pro Bono Cases and Strategic Litigation

Each year, we carefully select for representation on a pro-bono or partial pro-bono basis a small number of cases that could have long-term jurisprudential and cultural impact. We assist these clients in setting up fundraising campaigns to cover some of the legal costs and disbursements, such as filing fees and travel costs.

Our goal in strategic litigation and test cases is to choose the best cases – with the right plaintiffs and compelling fact scenarios – that have the greatest opportunity to positively impact Canadian law for a generation or more. We have a long view of the law, and we want to shape law and culture so our grandchildren will experience the benefits of our advocacy work.

One of our founding lawyers, Albertos Polizogopoulos, recently received an award for completing 2,500 pro bono hours on religious freedom cases. Since beginning his practice, Albertos has now completed close to 4,000 pro bono hours, valued at more than $1 million.

Please CONTACT US and we’ll be happy to discuss your case with you.

Our Constitutional Litigation Cases

The following are a list of cases in which Acacia Lawyers were involved as counsel:

  • Guelph and Area Right to Life v. City of Guelph, 2022 ONSC 43. This case addressed freedom of expression in the context of advertising.
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada St. Mary Cathedral v. Aga, 2021 SCC 22. This case addressed the ability for churches to govern themselves and their church discipline processes without government interference.
  • Redeemer University College v. Canada (Employment, Workforce Development and Labour), 2021 FC 686. This case addressed whether the Canada Summer Jobs’ application requirements violated the university’s freedom of religion.
  • A.B. v. C.D., 2020 BCCA 11. This case involved the rights of parental authority over children’s medical procedures.
  • Farrish v. Delta Hospice Society, 2020 BCCA 194. This case addressed whether a private organization could be compelled to accept members who did not share its core beliefs regarding palliative care.
  • Farrish v. Delta Hospice Society, 2020 BCSC 968.  This case addressed whether a private organization could be compelled to accept members who did not share its core beliefs regarding palliative care.
  • Christian Medical and Dental Society v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2019 ONCA 393. This case addressed a policy that violated physicians’ freedom of religion and conscience.
  •  PT v. Alberta, 2019 ABCA 158. This case addressed whether private Christian schools could be forced by the government to facilitate student activities inconsistent with their beliefs.
  • Power to Change Ministries v. Canada (Employment, Workforce and Labour), 2019 CanLII 13579 (FC). This case addressed whether the Canada Summer Jobs’ application requirements violated the charity’s freedom of religion.
  • Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 33. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Judicial Committee) v. Wall, 2018 SCC 26. This case addressed whether the courts can review religious organizations’ membership decisions.
  • Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University, 2018 SCC 32. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • Christian Medical and Dental Society v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2018 ONSC 579. This case addressed a policy that violated physicians’ freedom of religion and conscience.
  • CHP v. City of Hamilton, 2018 ONSC 3690. This case addressed freedom of speech and political expression in advertising.
  • ARPA Canada et al. v. Ontario, 2017 ONSC 3285. This precedent-setting case addressed whether the government could withhold information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and thus violate freedom of expression.
  • E.T. v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, et al., 2017 ONCA 893. This case addressed parental authority and decision-making capacity in regards to a child’s education.
  • S, S.S and N.S. by his litigation guardian S.S. v. The Private Academy, 2017 HRTO 791. This case addressed whether a private Christian school could exclude individuals who did not share its religious institutional beliefs.
  • Ktunaxa Nation Council et al. v. British Columbia et al. 2017 SCC 54. This case addressed issues regarding religious freedom for Indigenous peoples, the first ever to do so.
  • Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2016 ONCA 518. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society et al. v. Trinity Western University et al., 2016 NSCA 59. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • E.T. v Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 2016 ONSC 7313. This case addressed parental authority and decision-making capacity in regard to a child’s education.
  • Carter v. Canada, 2016 SCC 4. This case decided whether the federal government could temporarily preserve the application of a euthanasia law that had been struck down, and whether Quebec could be exempted from that law.
  • Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5. This case addressed whether euthanasia and assisted suicide should be decriminalized.
  • Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City), 2015 SCC 16. This case addressed whether a municipal council could open a meeting in prayer, and whether that impacted freedom of religion and conscience, and discrimination and is now the leading case on the duty of state neutrality with regard to religion.
  • Trinity Western University et al. v. Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society et al., 2015 NSSC 25. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • Trinity Western University et al. v. The Law Society of Upper Canada et al., 2015 ONSC 4250. This case addressed the ability of a Christian university to have an accredited faculty of law.
  • Bradford v. National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada, 2015 FCA 84. This case addressed whether a union worker could be exempted from paying dues due to religious convictions.
  • Loyola High School, et al. v. Attorney General of Quebec, 2015 SCC 12. This case addressed whether a private Christian school could be required to teach provincial ethics and religious curricula.
  • London Sales Arena Corp. v Judith Salsman, 2015 ONSC 7243. This case was about whether a family-oriented business could require a dress code and prohibit certain behaviour deemed “not family-friendly”.
  • Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, [2013] SCC 53. This case addressed whether consent was needed before withdrawing life support.
  • Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. William Whatcott, [2013] SCC 11. This case addressed whether provincial human rights legislation violated Canadians’ freedom of expression.
  • S.L., et al. v. Commission scolaire des Chênes, et al., [2012] SCC 7. This case addressed whether parents’ rights to freedom of conscience and religion were infringed by the school board’s ethics and religious culture programming.
  • Reference re Assisted Human Reproduction Act, 2010 SCC 61. This case dealt with whether portions of the Act exceeded Parliament’s legislative authority.
  • Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, [2009] 2 S.C.R. 567. This case dealt with whether a government policy infringed a religious community’s freedom of religion.
  • Lobo v. Carleton University, 2012 ONCA 498. This case addressed student free expression on campus.
  • Lobo v. Carleton University, 2012 ONSC 254. This case addressed student free expression on campus.
  • Reference re: Marriage Commissioners Appointed Under The Marriage Act, 2011 SKCA 3. This case addressed the religious freedom of marriage commissioners in the performance of their duties.
  • Lobo v. Carleton University, 2011 ONSC 5798. This case addressed student free expression on campus.