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June 4, 2020

The Ontario Federation of Labour joins the Ontario NDP MPP Jill Andrew’s call for Premier Doug Ford and Attorney-General Douglas Downey to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision making voluntary intoxication a legitimate defence in sexual assault cases.

Wednesday, Ontario’s top court ruled that section 33.1 of the Criminal Code violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The provision was enacted in 1995 specifically to stop voluntary intoxication from being used as a defence in sexual assault cases.

“Intoxication must never be a defence for violent crime and sexual assault,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “The Court of Appeal decision must be challenged, and we join the ONDP in calling for the Ontario government to do the right thing and challenge this decision.”

“This decision will have a dangerous and toxic impact on the lives of women, trans women, sex workers, and other complainants in cases of sexual assault,” said Coates. “This ruling takes sexual assault law back two decades. Shame on our courts for opening the door for anyone to explain away sexual assault.”

The OFL encourages all Ontarians to call for action by writing to Premier Doug Ford and Attorney General of Ontario Douglas Downey to demand they appeal this decision.

“Survivors of sexual assault and violence who go to court face an uphill battle at every step,” said Coates. “This decision will leave them with one more thing stacked against them, and their right to a fair trial and justice. It must be appealed immediately.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.


For more information, please contact:
Meagan Perry 
Director of Communications 
Ontario Federation of Labour l 416-894-3456 

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