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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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


Blog Post: We do have nice tits; Thank you for noticing! (Or, An Intersectional Pleasure-Positive Defence of Catcalling)

Co-authored by Maggie FitzGerald.

Unpopular opinion: We love to be catcalled.

It can be friendly or flirtatious. Affirming or exciting. For some, afleeting moment of eroticism. 

By Ummni Khan


Past Event: CFE Anti-SLAPP legislation workshop

Presentation by Peter Jacobsen, one of Canada’s top media and defamation lawyers. Onta