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Freedom of Expression & Its Limits

Freedom of expression, a fundamental freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is the right to express beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and emotions; to share information; and to seek and receive information and ideas without restriction. Limits on freedom of expression in Canada include Criminal Code and Human Rights provisions regarding hate speech, harassment, and discrimination; civil defamation actions; a variety of municipal by-laws; and both government and private restrictions on online access and content.

Blog February 22, 2022

Restricting young people’s access to porn won’t save them, but it will threaten sexual speech

A bill to restrict young people’s online access to sexually explicit material has been re-introduced by Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne. The so-called Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, would make it “an offence for organizations to make sexually explicit material available to young persons on the Internet” and would empower a designated enforcement authority to take steps to prevent such access. 
Blog February 10, 2022

Freedom of Expression and the Charter: 1982-2022 (Part 1 of 5)

Late in 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered two of its most consequential Charter decisions on freedom of expression in recent years: City of Toronto v. Ontario and Ward v. Quebec. That endpoint in 2021 is the starting point of a 5-part series on s.2(b) of the Charter and its passage from 1982 to the present. The series begins with City of Toronto and Ward, two decisions dividing the Court 5-4 and pointing in opposite directions that raise perplexing questions about expressive freedom – and the Court itself. Of particular concern is the bloc mentality of these decisions and how it undermined principled decision making on important s.2(b) issues.