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

Blog Post

Supreme Court of Canada Affirms Access to Justice and Freedom of Expression

CO-WRITTEN BY MADISON PEARLMAN

On June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”) released its decision in British Columbia (Attorney General) v Council of Canadians with Disabilities unanimously upholding the right of public interest organizations to mount legal challenges on behalf of members of marginalized communities. 

By Faisal Bhabha
Co-written by Madison Pearlman

Past Event

Racial Politics in the post George Floyd Era

Panelists: Desmond Cole, El Jones, Adolph Reed, Jr.

Moderator: Vershawn Young

News

Major Civil Society Organizations Call for Proper Inquiry into Invocation of the Emergency Act

We are representatives of major civil society organizations and social movements from across Canada.

April 13, 2022

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Canadian Senator Introduces Bill to Shield Young People from Online Pornography

March 10, 2022 - In Parliament, Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne has introduced Bill S-210 to restrict young people’s access to sexually explicit images on the internet.

Blog Post

Supreme Court of Canada Takes A Second Look at Anti-SLAPP Legislation

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court surprised many observers by agreeing to hear the appeal in Neufeld v Hansmana relatively obscure a

By Justin Safayeni