Documentation Project

Voices-Voix began publising case studies in 2010, creating a unique, accessible historical record of concerted attempts by the Harper government (as it styled itself)  to restrict civic spaces, diminish human rights, and marginalize those who dissented. The targets included equality-seeking groups,  human rights defenders, civil society organizations, independent agents of Parliament, and scientists. These developments were unprecedented in recent Canadian history, regardless of the political party in power. They were a warning sign of how vulnerable democracy is. In 2015. Voices-Voix published a report on its research findings entitiled Dismantling Democracy.

Canadians finally heeded these warnings in October 2015, electing a Liberal government that promised to address many of these issues. Voices-Voix continues to track the performance of the the federal government of Canada, focusing on the enabling environment for civil society and for independent and dissenting voices. 

We have learned that functioning, healthy democracies need more than elections. They need the oxygen of active participation by citizens and human rights defenders. They need a public service and independent institutions that can do their job without political interference. 

They need respect for the rule of law and the Canadian Charter.

Democracies also require good science and evidence-based policy, with government scientists who can collaborate, speak to the media, and publish their results.

And they need a strong civil society with stable funding, a modern and effective regulatory framework, the opportunity to enter into constructive dialogue with govenrment, and the right to participate in public policy.  

A health society enables civil society through human rights-based approaches and sustainable development. An enabling environment provides the legal, social, and political space that allows civil society to flourish.

Demcracies value diverse voices, a strong organized labour movement, and access to information so that citizens and the media can contribute to the democratic project. An enabling environment facilitates respectful partnerships with Indigenous peoples and organizations.

As a non-partisan organization, Voices-Voix documents these issues and update our case studies with good news when we find it, and write new case studies when we don't. We will continue to contribute to the public debate by preparing position papers on what needs to be done, and not only to fix what was broken.

Case studies are reviewed by the Editorial Board and the collective but do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board or the collective, or of Voices-Voix.