The Voices-Voix Coalition is compiling reports that provide information about the state of democratic rights in Canada, especially the rights to free speech, transparent government, and equality. If your organization has a report which you believe would be of interest to Canadians, send us an email at communications[at]

UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai

28 April 2015 (Geneva) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, called for a new treaty binding businesses to respect fundamental human rights, and for States and corporations to fully engage with civil society organizations in the context of natural resource exploitation.

“Corporations play an outsized role in the decision-making processes about exploitation of natural resources. But they are not subject to legally binding human rights obligations,” Mr. Kiai told the UN Human Rights Council during the presentation of his latest report. “It is time to address this issue more robustly; corporations must not escape responsibility to safeguard human rights.”

Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada

Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada documents the abuse of parliamentary rules, the intimidation of public servants, and the defunding and intimidation of organizations that hold views at odds with the government.

From scuttling the long-form census, to muzzling scientists, to cutting funding for evidence-based advocacy, the federal government has pursued a deliberate strategy to repress alternative views.

2014: The Year in Association and Assembly Rights

By Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Jan. 9, 2015

It is still too early to tell just how 2014 will be remembered from the perspective of assembly and association rights: The year of the protest; the year of the revolution, the year of shrinking space. 

But one thing is certain: It will be a year that we remember. 

Workshop on Civil Society: Dissent, Democracy, and the Law

“Civil Society: Dissent, Democracy, & the Law” was a one-day workshop hosted by the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism of the Faculty of Law (CHRLP) at  McGill University on October 23, 2013. 

The workshop aimed to create a forum and an opportunity for civil society leaders, practitioners, and members of the academy to discuss, theorize and strategize new and emerging challenges to civil society in Canada and to understand these challenges in a global context. Participants examined emerging norms with respect to an enabling environment and its connection to fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. It also attempted to address these challenges using norms, including through policy and regulatory reform.

Stephen Harper's CRA: Selective audits, "political" activity, and right-leaning charities

By the Broadbent Institute, October 2014

Charities are a vital part of Canadian society. From poverty relief to environmental research, from the dangers of smoking to the relative merits of different salt levels in food, Canadian charities continue to make invaluable contributions to the health and welfare of the country. 

Gendered Dissent, Democracy & Law: A Workshop

By Estair Van Wagner and Charis Kamphuis, Dissent, Democracy & the Law Research Network, October 6, 2014


This two-day Workshop featured presentations by fourteen panelists and speakers who together constituted a diverse group of legal scholars from universities across Canada, and advocates and leaders of civil society organizations. Their objective was to report on and theorize the challenges faced by advocates and civil society organizations working on issues of gender equality in Canada. In particular, participants focused on those challenges that stem from governmental use of legal and extralegal measures that undermine the capacity of individuals, civil society organizations, and institutions to participate in public debate on key policy issues at the local, provincial or federal level. (...)

The Shrinking Space for Dissent in Canada: Written statement to the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council

"The capacity of CSOs to engage in advocacy and dissent depends on a complex interplay between regulatory, political and social factors. The concept of an “enabling environment” has emerged to define the scope of these factors and goes beyond identifying the restrictions that prevent groups from existing, functioning and growing and extends to include conditions that actively help civil society to function and thrive. Not only has the present federal government not created an enabling environment, but its policies and practices have created a harsh and punitive environment for dissent and dissenters.

LRWC notes with growing concern the constricting space for dissent in Canada for CSOs and human rights defenders. Several sources have undertaken research and documentation of this trend, including Amnesty International, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), CIVICUS, Human Rights Watch and Voices-Voix, a Canadian coalition of more than 200 CSOs."