Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of Expression’

Protecting public debate through anti-SLAPP legislation

August 28th, 2014 by Shelina Ali

Last week, Greenpeace Canada filed a defence in a claim by Resolute Forest Products Inc. This was the result of a failed motion by Greenpeace to have Resolute’s claim for intentional interference with economic relations dismissed by the Divisional Court of Ontario, together with an order requiring Greenpeace to pay $20,000 in costs. According to Resolute’s claim, Greenpeace widely distributed the Unsustainability Report on Resolute, together with other targeted communications to customers, investors and stakeholders, which harmed Resolute’s business, goodwill and reputation.

In response to the filing of its defence, Greenpeace stated that Resolute benefited from filing its claim in Ontario instead of Quebec where Resolute’s headquarters were located, because Ontario did not have legislation designed to prevent what are referred to as Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

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Whose freedom of expression is the Harper government protecting?

January 30th, 2014 by Shelina Ali

Last week, in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s address to the Israeli Knesset, he equated criticisms of the Israeli state and its policies with anti-Semitism. He stated that “most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state,” continuing on to say that “it is nothing short of sickening.”

Mr. Harper’s strong condemnation of individuals who criticize Israel’s policies and practices raises serious concerns about his government’s commitment to protecting political speech in Canada. His comments should be seen in light of his government’s claw‑back of hate speech legislation in the name of freedom of expression. In acting as a champion of freedom of expression, while targeting critics of the Israeli government and its policies, Mr. Harper has attempted to redefine political speech as speech that would meet the definition of hate speech under the Criminal Code. These contradictory actions should raise serious doubts about whose expression the Harper government is actually committed to protecting.

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Freedom of expression for federal librarians and archivists under attack

April 1st, 2013 by Priya Sarin

Although federal public servants have always had a limited right to freedom of expression (as compared to private sector employees), certain government employees have recently been subjected to increasingly strict policies, or codes of conduct, which govern their behaviour both in and out of the workplace. Two recent policies effectively restrict access to the media and participation in forums for intellectual debate — such as conferences or teaching engagements. Contrary to what you might expect, these policies do not target employees in the justice, immigration or national defence departments, but rather scientists, librarians and archivists associated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Canadian Heritage. There are two reasons why Canadians should be concerned: 1) this continues a trend of the Harper government to restrict the public’s timely access to valuable information from our experts on issues of national importance (which in turn negatively impacts the quality of our public discourse and ability to make informed decisions); and 2) some of these policies are unnecessarily restrictive and arguably in breach of section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ‑- the right to freedom of expression.

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Hate speech and amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act

July 27th, 2012 by Shelina Ali

The House of Commons recently passed a private member’s bill, Bill C‑304, to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), repealing Section 13, the “hate speech” clause, in its entirety. Bill C‑304, tabled by Brian Storseth, MP for Westlock‑St. Paul, has received very little attention even though its impact may be more extensive than many people realize.

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A Victory for Free Speech ‑ Pride Toronto’s Dispute Resolution Panel dismisses complaint against QuAIA

July 24th, 2012 by Iler Campbell LLP

A decision (pdf)  handed down by the Dispute Resolution Panel of Pride Toronto has dismissed a complaint lodged by B’nai Brith against the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in the Pride Toronto March. Charles Campbell represented QuAIA at the hearing on June 27th. The Panel issued a “bottom line” decision on June 29th, so as to allow QiAIA to participate in the parade on July 1st. They subsequently released the full reasons for the decision on July 9th.

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