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

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: The Gabriels Resume Their Legal Campaign Against Mike Ward

February 4, 2022 - In Quebec, the Gabriels have resumed their legal campaign against stand-up comedian Mike Ward.

Past Event

How Canada can lead in privacy reform globally

#9 in CFE Series: Taming Big Tech: Exploring the Alternatives

Elizabeth Denham In conversation with Andrew Clement

Blog Post

Essential the United Nations Include Human Rights Safeguards in Proposed UN Cybercrime Treaty

It is essential that the UN General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee responsible for drafting a potential United Nations Cyber

By James L Turk

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Sikh Defamation Lawsuit Against Macdonald-Laurier Institute May Proceed to Trial

November 22, 2021 - In Ontario, a judge has rejected an attempt by an author and a public policy institute to have a Sikh organization’s defamation lawsuit dismissed in court.

Podcast

Countering Islamophobia in Canada: After 20 Years of the "War on Terror"

Azeezah Kanji - In Conversation with Tim McSorley​