Documenting the Silencing of Canadian Voices

Functioning, healthy democracies involve more than elections. Healthy democracies need the oxygen of active participation by citizens, civil society, and human rights defenders. The public service must be able to do its job without political interference. Respect for the rule of law and the Charter are fundamental as is the ability to develop evidence-based policy.  Government scientists should be able to collaborate, speak out, and publish their results. A health society creates an enabling environment that encourages diverse viewpoints, including by faith groups, development organizations, the labour movement and so many others that serve as important vehicles though which citizens, workers and activists can organize themselves to make a difference.  An enabling environment is one in which governments create the legal, social, and political space that allows civil society to flourish. 

Between 2010 and 2015, Voices documented the concerted attempt by the Harper government (as it styled itself)  to restrict these spaces, diminish rights, and marginalize those who dissented.  The systematic dismantling of democracy in favour of a narrow and negative vision of Canada and of the role of government were warning signs that Canadians finally heeded in the 2015 general election.

The case studies serve as a warning and as a reminder of how far the government was able to go, with impunity, over a period of almost a decade.

Voices is a non-partisan organization, and we are continuing our vigilance on these issues that are fundamental to Canadian democracy. We will update our case studies with good news when we find it, and write new case studies as needed. We will continue to contribute to the public debate by preparing position papers on what needs to be done, not only to fix what was broken, but to move Canada forward.

Send Us Facts

Has the government tried to silence you or your organization, or others you know of? Has it targeted you or your organization for speaking up? Has it interfered with your access to knowledge from public institutions?

Disrespect for the rights to dissent and advocacy has serious implications for our democracy, including consequences for free speechtransparency and equality. Help the Voices-Voix Coalition hold the government to account. Send us the facts!

Click on contact, or download the form below and send it to: communications at

Note: Submissions are anonymous. We fact-check and edit any information you send. We reserve the right to not publish material that is insufficiently relevant to our mandate.