Human Rights

Public Science

The previous federal Conservative government waged a systematic assault on public science. ​The assault included the natural and social sciences. It was not restricted to government scientists, but ran the full gamut of organizations connected to scientific research: government departments, at arms-length government funded organizations, organizations that funded other research, universities, NGOs and individual researchers who obtained grants through one of the funding agencies, and even included a UN convention conducting research relevant to climate change.

Federal Judicial Appointments

Chambers of the Supreme Court of Canada

An independent and impartial judiciary is a cornerstone of Canada’s constitutional democracy. However, the past decade has seen trends towards political judicial appointments and opaque appointments processes that threaten to undermine the judiciary’s role as protector of the rule of law and facilitator of a robust and diverse Canadian democracy.


Voices-Voix logo

Since 2010, Voices-Voix has been documenting the federal government’s treatment of civil society groups, Indigenous organizations, public institutions, and science.

On June 16, 2015 Voices-Voix released a report synthesizing more than 100 case studies, entitled Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada. The report received widespread public attention and was raised by Liberal and NDP MPs in the House. Conservative Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney responded by alleging that Voices-Voix “supports a terrorist group.”

Voices-Voix itself now joins a list of more than 30 groups and individuals targeted by similar official government statements designed to publicly vilify and smear those who express their right to dissent in Canada.

National Council of Canadian Muslims

National Council of Canadian Muslims logo

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is suing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his chief spokesman, Communications Director Jason MacDonald, after the spokesman alleged that NCCM was connected to a terrorist group. The NCCM filed a notice of libel in January 2014, which quotes the spokesman as saying: "We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas." During a Bill C-51 hearing in March 2015, Diane Ablonczy, MP of the Conservative Party, refers to this statement when questioning NCCM’s executive director about "a continuing series of allegations" that the NCCM is tied to groups that support "Islamic terrorist groups" like Hamas. The NCCM maintained these allegations are false and slanderous, as the NCCM has consistently condemned terrorism of any kind.

Dying With Dignity

Dying With Dignity logo

In 2011, the charitable organization Dying With Dignity Canada (DWD) partnered with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to support physician-assisted death before the courts as a human rights issue in the landmark case of Carter v. Canada.

Steelworkers Humanity Fund

Steelworkers Humanity Fund  logo

In 2012, the Canada Revenue Canada (CRA) began a “blitz” of reviews of the registered status of charities that are critical of the federal government and promote policy ideas that differ from the government's agenda.

Official Development Assistance

Official Development Assistance

Since the 1960s, Canada has been internationally recognised as a progressive and generous country in its diplomatic and financial contributions to promoting international development, thought its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. However, since coming to power in 2006, the Conservative government has been quietly dismantling programmes, changing policy orientations and priorities, and—following an initial increase which peaked in 2011—cutting the federal foreign aid budget, all to the point where there has been a major reorientation of Canada’s international development agenda, with virtually no public consultation.

Bill C-51: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

CSIS sign

Since the fall of 2014, the Harper government has introduced two significant bills to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other national security related legislation, identified as Bill C-51 and Bill C-44.

PEN Canada

Since January 2013 PEN Canada has filed four access to information (ATI) requests in an effort to understand how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) interprets the prohibition on “partisan political activity” set forth in ss.


On 1 December 2014, the House of Commons, responding to a New Democratic Party-led motion, voted unanimously to offer “full support” to the Canadian victims of thalidomide.