Fighting for Freedom of Speech

A young man I know well is taking a Civics class in High School.  For his ‘Civics’ project on how to improve our society, he had chosen to seek to raise awareness of the importance of Freedom of Speech.  He chose to do this in two ways:

1.  Following the example of FIRE, he considered setting up a ‘Free Speech Wall’ at his school.  He asked for and received a meeting with his Principal where he proposed the idea.  Due to School Board constraints (High School kids are still minors), this was deemed not possible.

However, his Principal was very supportive of his overall goal and they did agree that a ‘Freedom of Speech Page’ in the school’s newsletter would be a good idea:  all students would be encouraged to write why Freedom of Speech is important to them.  Since this high school has students from very diverse backgrounds, it might help to be inclusive for students who have come to Canada recently from more oppressive countries to be encouraged to share their stories of what life without freedom of speech was like and why we, in Canada, must protect this most core of our civil liberties.

He is still negotiating with the teacher in charge of the school newsletter, but he has volunteered to do the work on it and is hopeful that this will become a reality.

2.  Drafting and collecting signatures on a petition to ask our legislators to strengthen the legal protections on Freedom of Speech.  He had sent me the petition and the accompanying letter:  I have taken the names out of it and turned it into a template that each and every one of us can use, collect signatures on the petition and present our own MPs with the demand to strengthen or Free Speech protections!

The accompanying letter:

Petition to strengthen freedom of speech in our laws

To: ___________________________

Member of Parliament of Canada

Dear _________________________:

In the most recent Throne Speech, our Government stressed its committment to the protection of our core rights and fundamental freedoms. The most fundamental of these is the Freedom of Speech, without which no other right or freedom can be defended. There have been many attacks on freedom of speech as of recent, and despite it being the most crucial human right, many people see it as an optional bonus, despite how important it is.


Our Canadian laws are not in line with other democratic countries, like Australia and the United States of America, and make it very easy for unscrupulous people to abuse our laws to chill legitimate political debate. This type abuse was happening under ‘Section 13’ of the Human Rights Code, and you, our lawmakers, have listened to us, the citizens, and repealed that section. Thank you for that!

However, our other laws are now being similarly abused and I would like you, and all our lawmakers, to take steps to pass legislation to strengthen our freedom of speech!

Sincerely yours,

The petition:

This is a petition to my Member of Parliament, Pierre Poilievre, to ask that our law-makers pass federal laws strenghtening protection of the freedom unpon all our civil liberties depend, the Freedom of Speech, from attacks by those wishing to silence political discourse, so that Canadians within all of Canada would have better protections under the law for our most fundamental freedom.

SIGNATURE                                             NAME (Please Print)                       City, Postal Code

1. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

2. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

3. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

4. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

5. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

6. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

7. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

8. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

9. ______________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

10. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

11. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

12. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

13. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

14. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

15. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

This is a petition to my Member of Parliament, Pierre Poilievre, to ask that our law-makers pass federal laws strenghtening protection of the most fundamental of all of our civil liberties, the Freedom of Speech, from attacks from all directions, so that Canadians within all of Canada would have equal protections under the law for our mos fundamental freedom.

SIGNATURE NAME (Please Print) City, Postal Code

16. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

17. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

18. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

19. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

20. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

21. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

22. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

23. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

24. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

25. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

26. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

27. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

28. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

29. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

30. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

This is a petition to my Member of Parliament, Pierre Poilievre, to ask that our law-makers pass federal laws strenghtening protection of the most fundamental of all of our civil liberties, the Freedom of Speech, from attacks from all directions, so that Canadians within all of Canada would have equal protections under the law for our mos fundamental freedom.

SIGNATURE NAME (Please Print) City, Postal Code

31. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

32. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

33. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

34. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

35. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

36. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

37. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

38. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

39. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

40. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

41. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

42. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

43. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

44. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

45. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

This is a petition to my Member of Parliament, Pierre Poilievre, to ask that our law-makers pass federal laws strenghtening protection of the most fundamental of all of our civil liberties, the Freedom of Speech, from attacks from all directions, so that Canadians within all of Canada would have equal protections under the law for our mos fundamental freedom.

SIGNATURE NAME (Please Print) City, Postal Code

46. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

47. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

48. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

49. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

50. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

51. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

52. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

53. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

54. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

55. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

56. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

57. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

58. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

59. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

60. _____________________________ __________________________________ _________________________________

If you would like to receive these files as an attachment to an email, where the formatting is properly done up, please, drop me a line in the comments and I will be happy to send it to you.

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5 Responses to “Fighting for Freedom of Speech”

  1. Roy Elsworth Says:

    I Live in one of those ridings thats going to be changed from one conservative riding to another andy ways can you send one to relsworth@hotmail.com.

  2. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    This is truly a laudable undertaking! Bravo!

    The letter is very well written, but there are two things in it that ought to be thought through more carefully…

    First, freedom of speech is not the most fundamental right.

    The right to life is the most fundamental right. By this I mean the right to exist independently as a feeling and thinking being.

    Freedom of speech is certainly bound up with this, as part of the six irreducible core rights: life, liberty, property, privacy, self-defence, and self-expression. You either have all of them, or you may as well have none of them.

    And second, freedom of speech is not the right without which no other right can be defended.

    The right to self-defence, with its corollary, the right to bear arms, plays that role.

    Without the right to bear arms, the right to free speech becomes vacuous. If people lack the ability to back up their free speech with physical force, when necessary, then their free speech will be ignored.

    Weapons will get you through times of no free speech much better than free speech will get you through times of no weapons.

    But I’ll bet this young man you know isn’t allowed to say that at school.

    So perhaps he should say rather that freedom of speech is of such vital importance to the stability of civil society because its absence makes meaningful political discourse impossible and leaves us with no recourse other than physical force in defence of our inalienable individual rights.

  3. Gerry T. Neal Says:

    It sounds like this young man understands the importance of being free to speak one’s mind and I hope he receives plenty of encouragement and support. Since this is a project for a Civics class, a suggestion that I might make to him, would be to have two petitions, the second one addressed to his MLA – or MPP, I suppose you would say in Ontario. The wording need not be very different, just adjusted so as to be appropriate for the provincial government. Freedom of speech needs stronger protections at both levels of government. The bulk of the problem is probably at the provincial level actually. The federal government has already abolished the speech restrictions in the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provinces now need to follow suit. Defamation law, which due to the presumption of guilt is a major stifler of freedom of speech, is provincial law. The most important battle at the federal level right now would probably be a constitutional one that would require the cooperation of the provincial assemblies – the closing of the loopholes in the Charter’s protection of freedom of speech and other basic liberties.

    • xanthippa Says:

      As a matter of fact, he has a draft of a MPP one as well – specifically calling for the reform of the libel laws (a provincial responsibility) to put the burden of proof on the plaintiff, not the defense and thus strengthen the freedom of speech protections.


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