Freedom Of Expression

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Why Would A Teacher Cut Your Child's Hair?

What is it about hair that ruffles so many feathers? Last week, despite having been told not to do so, an Ottawa teacher chopped the hair off a child, ostensibly because the child was chewing on it. The teacher appears to have believed that somehow, he was acting in the child's best interests. Had he decided the child's identity for him? Had he decided that a child with a disability cannot make his own choices as to his appearance?
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The Best Canadian Value Is Not Putting Up With Crap

As the former director of education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, I have had to stand up for the rights of people I don't like very much, people who say and write things that I had hoped never to hear or read. But I have also taken the opportunity to let them know that, just because I will fight for their right to free expression, I have no intention of respecting what it is they say or represent. I am going to use MY free speech to let the ugly, abusive, and racist people out there know that they are wrong.
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Why NGOs Are Relieved the UN Called Canada out on the Income Tax Act

Canada has received a rebuke from a United Nations treaty monitoring body for its lack of respect for human rights. The Human Rights Committee (HRC) released a lengthy list of issues it cited as concerning as part of its concluding observations on the country's review of civil and political rights. Included was an important reference to the federal government's efforts to silence human rights organizations and advocacy through the Income Tax Act -- a welcome expression of support for charities under audit.
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Where Does Freedom of Speech End and Hate Speech Begin?

I couldn't help but puzzle over why it's called satire and freedom of expression to demean sacred tenets of the Muslim religion in cartoons on the cover of a magazine on the one hand, but an offensive Facebook posting mocking the Je Suis Charlie slogan by Dieudonné got him arrested on the other hand. As I was mulling over what all this meant, a friend challenged me, "when does freedom of expression end and hate speech begin?" It's an important question to ask in light of the events of last week.
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If Government Is Committed To Transparency, Why the Steep Search Fees?

In the past few years, I have made a handful of requests, dutifully paying my $5 in the hopes of receiving documents that will shed some light on Canada's human rights record. What has transpired is Kafkaesque. I requested information from the Department of Justice, Foreign Affairs, and Heritage Canada on our government's process for implementing human rights treaties. Between two departments, I was told that processing of my request would cost... wait for it ...more than $4,000 in search fees.
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Ethiopia's "Terrorist" Journalists and Bloggers

On April 25 of this year, the Ethiopian government made news by arresting six bloggers and three freelance journalists. It is now over 100 days, and counting, since the six Zone 9 bloggers and the three freelance journalists were thrown into Ethiopian prison cells. The nine writers are facing terrorism-related charges, standing accused of inciting violence through social media.
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Canada's Anti-Spam Law Punishes Charities

Proponents of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) have touted it as a giant leap for economic efficiency in e-commerce by making spam illegal. And CASL does list the promotion of "efficiency" as its purpose. But contrary to the good results this efficiency may bring, CASL could have a decimating effect on charities. Here's how.
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Canada's Hypocritical Blasphemy Law

Most Canadians probably do not know what blasphemy is, let alone that publishing blasphemous materials is still a criminal offence in this country. But there is some irony here, because the Canadian government publicly defends the freedom to publish cartoons that mock a religious figure and looks abroad to protect religious minorities from oppression while at the same time punishing that at home.

Alberta's Municipal Anti-Bullying Laws are Deeply Flawed

One of the easiest ways for a municipal politician to keep his constituents happy is to give them what they want. Sometimes this means enacting popular yet dubious bylaws. Perhaps this is the impetus behind the Town of Airdrie's push to amend its Public Behaviour Bylaw to prohibit bullying. After all, nearly everyone will rally behind politicians who enact laws to protect children from harm, regardless of those laws' faults.