Radagast via Creative Commons
NurPhoto via Getty Images
The recent scandal at Wilfried Laurier University should make it clear that higher education in Canada is, literally, in crisis.
If fundamental freedoms can be enjoyed only selectively, provided you don't say the "wrong" thing, and provided that you don't belong to the "wrong" religion, they are worthless.
urbancow via Getty Images
The university argues that a loud, unruly, physically disruptive mob should be entitled to shut down campus events, as long as the mob is non-violent.
Last year the minister responsible for Canada Post issued what a prohibitory order to stop delivery of a disgusting hate rag known as Your Ward News by Canada Post carriers. Defenders of Your Ward News say this is a free-speech issue, and their rights are being denied. They are completely wrong on both counts.
KatarzynaBialasiewicz via Getty Images
A few days ago, the (usually) brilliant writer Andrew Potter resigned as the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada amid scrutiny over an ill-received March 20 article in Maclean's. As such, many in the journalistic community are left horrified about the state of free speech in Canada - as they ought to be.
SIphotography via Getty Images
It is becoming increasingly popular - and effective - to impose security fees on student groups that seek to host a controversial speaker, or to express an unpopular view. By extorting those who seek only to exercise their legal rights, universities are blaming the victims and encouraging the bullies.
Bryan Delodder via Getty Images
On January 20, 2017, producers for the CBC program Marketplace printed t-shirts containing racist logos and mottos, including "white power" and "white pride world wide [sic]," and hired a middle-aged white man to stand on a Toronto street to peddle the t-shirts and yell racist slogans. Not only is this episode the epitome of so-called "fake news" -- fabricating a story in order to report it -- it's also deeply ironic. By broadcasting this content in Alberta, the CBC likely violated Alberta's hate speech law.
Richard Lautens via Getty Images
When Rebel Media sent out emails claiming that "Canada is on the verge of passing a law that would prohibit criticizing Islam" and that "If this motion passes, Canadians can be persecuted for expressing any criticism of Islam, even when warranted," I pointed out that M-103 is a motion, not a law, and that it will not change a single comma of existing speech legislation. Apparently, Prime Minister Trudeau disagrees.
AndresGarciaM via Getty Images
The reality is that every single person who wants to engage in free expression on university must deal with the campus thought police, first. The Canadian Taxpayer Federation's (CTF) student initiative, Generation Screwed, which deals with government debt and fiscal issues, has had its own share of challenges.
PATRICK HERTZOG via Getty Images
Freedom of speech does not only protect one's right to be offensive, it also protects individual and communities' right to express their diversity. By staging the debate, focusing on anti-trans and anti-black freedom of speech, the University of Toronto is inflaming the toxic environment its trans and racialized students are facing.
Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images
Badawi has been languishing in a Saudi prison since his first arrest in 2012, and his subsequent sentencing in 2014 to 10 years imprisonment and 1000 lashes, itself constitutive of torture and a standing violation of international human rights law. Raif Badawi's "crime"? Establishing an online forum and exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Deborah Pendell via Getty Images
"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue," goes the old saying. At Canadian public universities, hypocrisy threatens to destroy one of higher education's most cherished and long-standing virtues: the free exchange of ideas.
Like it or not, Canada is a country that celebrates freedom of expression. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." That "Everyone" includes people who say objectionable, false, foolish, misguided, or even ugly things.
ilyast via Getty Images
The student union is now being sued because it continues to insist on banning the peaceful expression of pro-life opinion at Brandon University. BUSU claims that the pro-life message makes some students feel "uncomfortable."
rvlsoft via Getty Images
Long before human rights commissions, the common law provided victims of false accusations with a real remedy to protect their reputation: defamation. When someone says something about you that is false and that hurts your standing in the community, you can seek and obtain monetary compensation.
PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images
Free speech, we say, is a principle we will defend to the death. Until perhaps we don't agree with what has been said. Then, suddenly, we are able to find very valid reasons to rationalize ourselves away from a supposed absolute value. Cases like Yiannopoulos' push our proclaimed moral positions up against the wall, compelling us to confront our human tendency towards personal bias. And that's why they are so interesting.
More authority and less freedom can be an attractive answer. And that's the problem. Legislation of this variety forces us to sacrifice our right to freedom of expression for the chance that some good might come of it. It's a trade off, and it's too high a price to pay, especially when there are less costly options available.
WLDavies via Getty Images
Now, you may not like Confess's music. You may not like that they've chosen to express themselves through a loud and vociferous medium. But that's just a matter of taste, not of principle. Consider this fundamental tenet of a free society: it is too dangerous to grant a monopoly over expression to any government.
Niyazz via Getty Images
This isn't about whether hunting is good or bad, and at this stage, it can't be. This is about whether Canada is prepared to allow sanctimonious activists to have the absolute right to tell everyone else how to live their lives, and run their businesses, issue by issue as they see fit.
JimVallee via Getty Images
Unbeknownst to many, a gag was put on free expression across British Columbia. When the B.C. government called the byelections in the districts of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, public communication about many important issues suddenly became "election advertising."
PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images
Canada continues to make important strides toward more equality. But there are storm clouds on the horizon that endanger the continuing pursuit of true equality. What started as a legitimate change to bring about equality and transformation of how we viewed, treated and spoke about each other has now ossified into a rarely breached wall of silence, a silence reinforced by the onset of the West's indifference to its own good, bad or ugly -- but distinct -- societies, their values and norms. Call it white man's burden or guilt, a guilt for the sins of the past now manifesting itself in the white man's fear.
Shutterstock / Nzescapes
The law should not allow UVic to become a lesser and distorted version of itself, by denying students the right to peacefully express unpopular opinions. It's time to return universities to their central mandate of educating robust, thinking minds.
On Wednesday our parliament passed bill C-51; a bill which takes a sledgehammer to the principles in the Charter. How could a controversial bill with 52 per cent of Canadians opposing it and only 33 per cent supporting it pass? Ignoring the voices of your constituents is dangerous, especially in an election year.
The same people who protested The Dixie Chicks are some of the same people moaning about the unfairness heaped upon this little pizzeria in Indiana. People get the "Free Speech" argument wrong all the time. It is not, nor has it ever been, a license to say whatever you want, free of consequence. It doesn't remotely mean that everyone has to shrug and simply ignore or accept what you say. And it doesn't mean you're free from financial ruin if you say something that incites public backlash.
The shying away from liberal and democratic political institutions is concerning from a disaster management perspective. Research on tornado impacts in the American south of the 1950s found that those communities where hospitals refused to admit African-Americans struggled to gain resiliency and return to normal functioning post-disaster compared to tolerant communities.
MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE via Getty Images
A second round of lashings against Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi has been postponed for medical reasons, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group said it would provide more deta...
ALFREDO ESTRELLA via Getty Images
I understand the nature of cultural and religious sensitivity. I believe in debate and free speech. What happened this past week put the two ideas -- free speech and religious sensitivity -- at polar opposites. I had realized that after we printed the clarification that the staff at The Eyeopener probably didn't fully understand the implications of our statement. We were accused of ignorance.
Wednesday's deadly attack on French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo has been roundly condemned around the world as an attack on free speech and the right to a free press. It's also a reminder tha...
Bloomberg via Getty Images
The University of Calgary recently reversed the guilty verdict of seven pro-life students who were found guilty of non-academic misconduct for setting up a display with graphic photos comparing abortion to the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. The court decision has been heralded by some as being a victory for free speech on campus. But it's not.
Google is planning to appeal a ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court ordering the search engine giant to erase certain results from internet searches around the world. Because the ruling applie...
You do have the freedom to say what you want. You don't have the freedom to escape the fallout from your words. When you are a bigot -- and I use the word without malice -- you are trying to block another human being from having the same rights you have. You can feel however you want to feel. There is nothing wrong with your religious or philosophical beliefs, and in our society, you are free to practice them and believe what you wish. But freedom of speech does not carry a get-out-of-jail-free card.
If there's one thing I can say about Richard Warman without getting sued, it's that he knows his way around the system. As a human rights advocate, he's brought more suits before this country's various "quasi-judicial" Human Rights Tribunals than any other lawyer or group -- though that's a bit like saying that he's sacked more peewee quarterbacks than any other NFL linebacker.