Free Speech

Canadian spy agency sued for allegedly violating charter

One of Canada's top spy agencies, Communications Security Establishment Canada, is violating privacy rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to a lawsuit filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the OpenMedia organization.

Speaking on Tuesday morning in Vancouver, representatives for the two civil rights groups said the broad and unchecked surveillance of Canadians by the spy agency is unconstitutional. (...)

Muzzling of federal scientists widespread, survey suggests

Hundreds of federal scientists said in a survey that they had been asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific reasons, and thousands said they had been prevented from responding to the media or the public.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which commissioned the survey from Environics Research "to gauge the scale and impact of 'muzzling' and political interference among federal scientists," released the results Monday at a news conference. (...)

Prime Minister’s Office backtracks on banning cameraman after outcry

A veteran TV cameraman will be allowed to travel to Malaysia with the prime minister this week after all.

Earlier today, Stephen Harper’s office appeared poised to scratch CTV journalist Dave Ellis from the trip because he asked an impromptu question during a media event last week in New York.

The TV networks fought back, insisting that they — not the Prime Minister’s Office — should decide who to assign to cover Harper when he travels abroad. (...)

Opinion: Freedom of speech is the right to express unpopular views

Most people in the industrialized world, including Canadians, consider free speech and human rights critically important factors for ensuring the survival of authentic democracy. (...)

The recent experience of folk singer Neil Young also provides a warning closer to home for those who may think Canadians have a basic right to express their opinion on controversial issues without fear of being penalized in the process. (...)

Silencing Scientists

Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change (...)

Wounded vets asked to sign form saying they won’t criticize the military on social media

The Canadian Forces is requiring physically and mentally wounded soldiers to sign a form acknowledging they won’t criticize senior officers or discourage others in uniform with their comments on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. (...)

UN expert calls on countries to strengthen protection of civil society voices, whistleblowers

A United Nations independent expert today urged Governments worldwide to provide adequate protection to members of civil society, including whistleblowers, and ensure transparency in their decision-making processes. (...)

Activists file suit challenging limits on oil project critics

Environmental activists have launched a suit in the Federal Court of Canada to overturn federal legislation that limits their ability to oppose proposed pipeline projects at regulatory hearings.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, ForestEthics Advocacy and an activist named Donna Sinclair have asked the court to strike down provisions of the National Energy Board Act – passed as amendments in last year’s omnibus budget bill – that they say unreasonably restrict public comment on project proposals. (…)

Critics want to see Harper government’s ‘enemy’ list

More than 200 public-interest and aid organizations are formally asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government to reveal who’s on the “enemy” lists given to new ministers in this month’s cabinet shuffle. But it doesn’t appear that Harper’s PMO will be producing the lists anytime soon — if ever. (…)

Lab that found virus in B.C. salmon stripped of credentials after audit

A lab that revealed the first evidence of an infectious virus in British Columbia salmon has been stripped of its international credentials. (…)

Dr. Kibenge has said federal government officials attacked the credibility of his lab since he reported two positive tests for the ISA virus in salmon samples from the west coast – a finding that could lead to export restrictions on B.C. salmon, crippling the fish farm industry. (…)