Free Speech

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. (...)

Help Put the Spotlight on Government Secrecy

By Sean Holman,, 26 September 2014

Partisans may not believe it, but Canada's "culture of secrecy" existed long before Stephen Harper moved into the prime minister's office. And it'll be around long after he moves out, unless Canadians do more than cast their ballots in the next election.

That's why four groups concerned about freedom of information, one of which I'm part of, are launching a campaign encouraging Canadians to take a small but vital step on social media that would raise more awareness of just how much is being hidden from us: spotlighting examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi. (...)

Energy East oil terminal threatens belugas: federal scientists

By Mike Desouza,, 27 September 2014

A stunning Quebec Superior Court injunction that temporarily halted exploratory work on a major cross-Canada oilsands pipeline project is raising fresh questions about whether the Canadian government muzzled a top scientist while reviewing the industry proposal.

Why we decided not to register as a charity

By Kelly Ernst, Troy Media, 17 September 2014
The recent concern about charity audits and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rejection of charitable registration for groups that promote poverty prevention occurred while the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) was considering applying for charitable status. There are many reasons why BICN is interested in promoting awareness and support for an expanded system of basic income, but central among them is its potential to provide a more lasting solution to poverty. Basic income is a concept that has been rigorously tested, studied and recommended by Senate committees. This concept also forms the basis of existing income supports for children and seniors. (...)

Left-leaning think-tank targeted for federal audit because of ‘biased’ material, document shows

By Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press, 1 September 2014

OTTAWA—A left-leaning think-tank was targeted by the Canada Revenue Agency for a political activities audit last fall partly because the research and education material on its website appears to be “biased” and “one-sided.”(...)

A spokesman for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said the finding of bias is “absurd,” since all think-tanks — whether on the left or right — work from a specific set of values.

“Under this definition, all think-tanks are biased or one-sided, and would not qualify for charitable status,” said Bruce Campbell, executive director since 1994. (...)

Canadians’ science culture thriving, new report finds

By Léo Charbonneau, University Affairs, 28 August 2014

Canadians must “strive for a society that looks to science to help inform our decisions and broaden our world view,” said Art Carty, executive director of theWaterloo Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo. That requires a strong science culture, and on that score Canada is doing well, he said. (...)

Despite the good news, “that doesn’t mean that we should be complacent,” warned Dr. Carty. The CCA report noted a number of concerns, such as the federal government’s current policies restricting government scientists’ communication with the media.(...)

'Stick to the knitting': Charities face similar scrutiny in UK, Canada

By Carl Meyer, Embassy, 27 August 2014

Oxfam Canada’s affiliate in the United Kingdom had tweeted about a "perfect storm" for poverty conditions being created by what it saw as a trend in the UK of harsh contracting terms, high prices, cuts to benefits and unemployment.

The tweet caught the eye of Conor Burns, a UK Conservative Party politician, who complained in a letter to the regional charity regulator that it was "overtly political" and aimed at his government. 


Un-muzzle the scientists?: Critics say “Yes, please”

By, Macleans, 26 August 2014

Earlier this week University of Alberta professor Andrew Leach wrote an article for titled Un-muzzle the scientists? Not so fast. Because of the intense interest in the story, we’ve assembled responses from three critics who took issue with Leach’s argument, along with a new post from Leach in which he responds to the critics. (...)

Step by step, conservative forces move to silence NGOs' voices

By Joan Staples, The Conversation, 26 August 2014

The federal Liberal Party, government ministers, Coalition MPs, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are targeting the advocacy role of Australia’s environmental NGOs. In particular, they are trying to silence debate on climate change. The attacks are significant, they appear to be concerted and they are intimidating. (...)

Charity wonders about sudden interest from Ottawa

By Donovan Vincent, The Toronto Star, 23 August 2014

Working with partners in Latin America, the charity helps fund programs that assist the poor. But to maintain its charitable status, CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev for short) is having to wade through mounds of paperwork from those partners, including interim and year-end financial reports, receipts, program proposals and budgets — and translate it all into English. (...)