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Canada (Attorney General) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society 2012 SCC 45


D is a BC organization by and for sex workers in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Members face disability, poverty, addiction and other barriers.


Should public interest standing be granted to D?


See below for new public interest standing test


Downtown Eastside leaves the Borowski test unclear. Makes what was previously a rule a less clear standard.

the courts weigh three factors in light of these underlying purposes and of the particular circumstances.
-The courts consider whether the case raises a serious justiciable issue,
--Health and safety of sex workers important
-whether the party bringing the action has a real stake or a genuine interest in its outcome and
--Part of their mission
-whether, having regard to a number of factors, the proposed suit is a reasonable and effective means to bring the case to court
--Although individual sex workers could formally bring a suit, there were a host of reasons that caused those individuals not to want to (i.e. losing their children, people knowing, etc.)
--This question is changed from “no alternative”

Judicial Discretion: This is not a rigid checklist but a set of interrelated factors to be weighed and balanced.

Underlying rules of standing= balance "between ensuring access to the courts and preserving judicial resources": Canadian Council of Churches
People who are directly affected have priority in getting judicial resources
-You don’t want people with specific fact scenarios to be prejudiced by rulings without
-Ensure that there are contending points of view
-Make sure courts stay within their bounds
-There should be a practical and effective way to challenge the legality of laws


Standing granted.

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