Speech Restrictive Laws

The Issue

Despite the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizing freedom of expression as a “fundamental freedom”, it faces serious challenges. Among troubling restrictions are the creation of the new offense of encouraging the "commission of terrorism offences in general"; continuing use of criminal defamation against critics of public officials; broadening the definition of hate speech; failure to curtail abuse of civil defamation; and unwillingness to remove archaic laws such as the Criminal Code offences of defamatory libel and seditious libel.

Why It Matters

Freedom of expression is the foundation of a democratic society and is essential to virtually all other freedoms. Only through the opportunity to hear different perspectives can we formulate our own views to share with others. When governments inappropriately limit what can be expressed and when courts restrict unpopular or controversial viewpoints, the public’s right to hear and form their own conclusions is lost, and democracy imperilled.

Our Work

The CFE defends free expression rights. We promote public discussion of what are justifiable limits on free expression. We press for the repeal of antiquated and inappropriate speech restrictive laws, such as blasphemy and criminal defamation, as well as for the repeal of anti-terrorism laws that undermine basic freedoms and democratic rights. We advocate for the introduction of anti-SLAPP legislation that effectively prevents the use of civil defamation to intimidate and silence critics. We monitor and, where appropriate, seek to intervene in court cases that will shape free expression rights in Canada.

Resources
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BPC Bulletins: BPC Bulletins: Canada Post and Your Ward News

November 23, 2018 - Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of public services, has permanently ordered Canada Post to cease delivery of Toronto’s Your Ward News.


Blog Post: Are there limits to the criticism or ridicule of religion?

The European Court of Human Rights in the recent judgment of E.S. v.

By Richard Moon


Blog Post: When to Use the Section 33 “Notwithstanding” Override 

The controversy over invoking section 33, the Charter’s override, in Ontario appears to have subsided.

By David Schneiderman


Past Event: Countering “Hate Speech”

Speaker: Nadine Strossen


News: Ontario Court of Appeal decisions a victory for free expression

Today, the Ontario Court of Appeal handed down six decisions that uphold and strengthen Ontario’s 2015 anti-SLAPP lawdesigned to ensure that