10/09/2013 07:29 EDT | Updated 12/09/2013 05:12 EST

89-year-old who refused census is acquitted

A Toronto judge ruled today that an 89-year-old peace activist who refused to fill out the census because of its link to a U.S. military contractor is not guilty of violating the Statistics Act, an offence which could have included a penalty of jail time.

Audrey Tobias argued that she didn't file her 2011 census because it is processed using software from Lockheed Martin.

The Crown argued that Tobias had no lawful excuse for her refusal, which led to a charge against her under the Statistics Act and carried a penalty of three months in prison.

Outside the courtroom after the ruling, Tobias thanked the judge for his decision and said her first thought was "goodness gracious" when the ruling came down.

“He put a lot of work and analysis and care into that judgement,” she said.

“I think it’s a significant issue for Canadians. I think people will know now what their government is all about.”

Tobias also said she would have been willing to go to jail had she been found guilty.

“I would have done whatever was necessary,” she said. “Under no circumstances would I have paid a fine, which was a way of saying I was guilty.”

In making her defence before the court, Tobias had argued that forcing her to complete the census would have violated her freedoms of conscience and free expression.