About the Coalition

Who We Are

Voices-Voix is a non-partisan coalition of Canadians and Canadian organizations. We support a strong enabling environment for civil society organizations in Canada, robust democratic traditions, and Canadians' collective and individual rights to debate and dissent. 

The coalition was founded in 2010 in response to unprecedented federal funding cuts to CSOs and measures that targeted progressive organizations and eroded our democratic foundations. More than 230 organizations subscribed to the Voices-voix Coalition by endorsing our first DeclarationOver 5,000 Canadians signed on as well.

In May 2016, we launched an updated declaration following the general election, renewing our call for government action to protect dissent and strenghten democracy in Canada and to fulfill its campaign promises. You can add your name, or you organization, by clicking here.

Voices-Voix is stewarded by a small group of volunteers including human rights lawyers and representatives of the organizations in the coalition

The case studies and reports published on the web site are curated by the Research Network on Dissent Democracy & the Law (DDL), bringing together noted scholars and practitioners from several disciplines, publishing peer-reviewed case studies and reports that can be found on the Voices-Voix Documentation Project. The Editorial Board peer reviews submissions and case studies.

What we believe

We believe that citizens, civil society organizations, and governments all have positive roles to play in expanding what the Supreme Court of Canada has described as the creation of "breathing space" for democracy. This means that:

  • The federal government must foster an enabling environment for CSOs, including NGOs and community-based groups
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be respected, and the Department of Justice in particular should to ensure that all draft legislation is fully Charter compliant and that Parliament is advised accordingly
  • Independent officers and agents of Parliament must actually be independent
  • We must build a new and respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.
  • Canadians and Canadian charities that peacefully protest or advocate for change in government policy should not be subject to "political activities audits", surveillance, privacy breaches and rhetorical attacks by the very government that purports to represent us
  • The regulation of charities should be the responsibility of an independent entity with no financial interest in the determination of whether an organization is charitable or not.
  • Advocacy activities are fundamental to freedom of expression and association: provided that they are aligned with recognized charitable activity they should be fully permitted and not charaterized through the misleading term "political activities"
  • National security legislation should be amended to remove provisions that permit legitimate political discourse and dissent from being considered as threats to national security.

As Canadians, we give priority to our democratic rights and values, including free speech, and freedom of association and peaceful assembly. We demand transparency from our government and equality in all its laws and policies.

What we do

  1. We document the track record of the federal government in its ability to create an enabling environment. We offer solidarity to individuals and groups that have been targeted by defunding, charity audits, surveillance, reprisals or provacy breaches (see our Hit List).
  2. We promote debate amongst our members and allies about how to defend the space for democratic dissent and advocacy in Canada, either online or through events.
  3. We research and promote ways in which the Canadian government can support the work of civil society and encourage the debate and dissent necessary to maintain a flourishing democracy.
  4. We encourage Canadians to raise their voices so that governments meet their core responsibilities to respect the equality, transparency and diversity of voices that make a democracy thrive.
  5. We inform the international community about what is happening in Canada by presenting our research findings (see our Reports).

 

Documented cases

As of December 2015, 121 cases have been documented. The breakdown of our research as of December 2015 was the following:

History

Founding & First Declaration
The Voices-Voix Coalition was founded on April 21st, 2010. Over 100 representatives of Canadian organizations gathered in Ottawa to discuss increasing attacks by the federal government on democratic rights, especially the right to criticize government policies and decisions without suffering retribution, and the right of all citizens to be treated equally by their elected representatives.

Within three months we had drafted and signed a common Declaration, held a press conference to announce our intent to work together, and began research into the attacks that have taken place.
History of the Voices-Voix coalition

Second Declaration: 2016

With a new government elected in 2015, the context had changed, but our mission remained the same: to ensure all Canadians can speak out for justice and equality without fear of reprisal. 

That’s why on May 14th, we launched a new Voices-Voix Declaration, to speak out in one voice as we did in 2010 when Voices was founded. At the time time of its launch, 25 organizations and 200 individuals had signed on, and the number continues to grow. 

Structure

There is no hierarchy in Voices-Voix. Decisions are made by consensus. Representatives of our member-organizations and allies communicate ideas on how to accomplish our common goals through a forum. All Canadian organizations that endorse the Declaration are welcome to join, except for political parties.

Voices-Voix works with volunteers and interns and we have a part-time Coordinator.

Funds are donated by member-organizations. Voices-Voix is not a charity, but you can donate by contacting us.

Support the Voices-Voix coalition

When the government tries to silence advocacy and dissent, free speech, transparency, equality and democracy are compromised. Speak up for our democratic rights and freedoms. Raise your voice!

Individuals:

Organizations: