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.
Public Lecture with Nathalie Des Rosiers -General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Part of Canadian Mining and the Universities Series
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.
What is the Canadian Human Rights Act?
VICTORIA, B.C. -- "Program Our Way to Fight," the record of an evening with Canadian author Michael Reardon recently hosted by the Victoria Chapter of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, is being censored by Shaw Cable in Vancouver.
Pasifik.ca, who recorded the event and wishes to release it as an independent community program, has received an email saying that Shaw TV cannot broadcast the video of Our Way to Fight: Peace-work Under Siege in Israel-Palestine by Michael Riordon, as it is too "unbalanced" and "controversial."
Admittedly, it's a provocative proposition: isn't the right to vote one of the keystone and defining elements of citizenship? Certainly, the act of casting a vote for an elected official or on a topic put to the public is one of the most tangible displays of citizenship, but of course citizenship means much more than just that. For example, one additional privilege that citizens have over permanent residents or visitors is the right to entry and habitation in Canada. Permanent residents and visitors get to stay here as long as the government says that they may. So, voting is an important part of citizenship, but not the be-all and end-all of it.
Earlier this week (on November 16th) I filed a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court seeking declarations that sections of the Vancouver Charter and the School Act that prohibited non-Canadian citizens from being eligible to vote or run in municipal elections was contrary to the Charter. I claimed that these provisions were discriminatory and infringed expression and could not be justified in a free and democratic society.
BEIRUT - We're talking revolution in Egypt, and pessimism and optimism are duking it out. For these couple of hours, a hotel meeting room in Beirut is the forum for a handful of Egypt's human rights luminaries to assess the trajectory of their country's chaos.
I am at the general meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). Catchy titles have never been the strong point of civil society groups, but don't let the boring moniker fool you.
If the global human rights firing line were Hollywood, pretty much everyone here would be walking the red carpet (myself excluded). All present stand up for critical speech against great odds in Uganda, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Congo, Yemen -- you name it.
Okay, I'm shallow. But meeting Bashar Al-Mandalawy, the first thing I notice is how cool he looks. He'd be so at home on Queen West. But actually, he lives in Baghdad -- born and bred -- and there's little comfort in that.
Being here in Beirut with an international phalanx of human rights leaders is just a short reprieve. He works full-tilt for the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory and the way he quietly says he's seen a lot, speaks volumes.
Right now, the worries are piling up.
May 3, 1991, marked the first World Press Freedom Day. Since that date, the occasion, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, continues to be acknowledged internationally on an annual basis.
The day’s intention is to garner awareness of the importance of a free press. Further, the event seeks to remind governing bodies of their responsibility to uphold their citizen’s right to the freedom of expression.