Dalhousie Law Journal


Censorship, supreme court, constitutionality, prohibitions, unconstitutional powers, constitutional merits


On January 8, 1974, the Nova Scotia Amusements Regulation Board banned the showing of the film Last Tango in Paris. Gerard McNeil, the editor of a Dartmouth newspaper, decided to challenge the powers of the Board to make such prohibitions. He first appealed to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, as required by section 3(4) of the Theatres and Amusements Act' but he was not recognized by that body as having the right to appeal. He then requested the Attorney-General to refer the constitutionality of the Act to the Appeal Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, but to no avail. Early in 1974 Mr. McNeil applied to the Trial Division of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court for a declaration that the Board was exercising unconstitutional powers to censor or ban films.2 In the event that preliminary questions were resolved as to the proper parties to the action, Hart J. granted standing to Mr. McNeil and allowed the Court to set a date for hearing upon the constitutional merits. Subsequently, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada by the Censor Board contesting the applicant's standing was dismissed on May 20, 1975.