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Archive For Entries On Freedom of Expression

R v Elliott: An Unhinged Use of Hashtags

In R v Elliott, 2016 ONCJ 35 [Elliott], Gregory Elliott was found not guilty of criminally harassing two women by repeatedly communicating with them via Twitter through various hashtags they had created. In my view, Mr. Elliott fulfills the definition of a “Twitter troll” and I find his opinions personally offensive. But is the fact […]

Crouch v Snell or: How Adults Ruined It for the Kids

The tragic suicide of Rahtaeh Parsons as a result of relentless cyber-bullying in 2013 elicited the sympathy and concern of not just Canadians but also the international community. Only three weeks after her death, the Nova Scotia legislature enacted the Cyber-safety Act, SNS 2013, c 2 [CSA]. The CSA aimed to address cyberbullying and was […]

Individuality and Community: Expounding the Fundamental Freedoms’ Normative Antinomy

I It has been said that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a liberal document. On this view, the Charter presupposes an individualistic conception of the rights-bearer. It conceives of persons as having pre-politically discrete identities and as being free, autonomous, and independent of the community. Its function is to “police the boundary that […]

SCC Continues to Navigate the Tension Between Labour Relations and Privacy: Bernard v Canada

Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) decided that Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act, SA 2003 c P-6.5, which, inter alia, had the effect of preventing unions from filming individuals crossing a picket line, was an unjustifiable violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression (for more, see the commentary by Avnish Nanda and […]

Appeal Watch: Religiosity in Government to be Deliberated by SCC in MLQ v City of Saguenay

Over the past couple of decades, there have been calls to remove God from Canada’s national anthem, ban the wearing of religious symbols by public servants in Quebec, and abolish the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer (Freitag v Penetanguishene (Town) (1999), 47 OR (3d) 301 [Freitag]) during town council meetings in Ontario. The Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation […]

Rob Ford’s Trial by Media and the Innocents Caught in the Undertow

These days, the pen (or, perhaps, the keyboard) is truly mightier than the sword. Pens shape public perception, and that power endures beyond borders and beyond lifetimes in our digital age of information. But as the adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility. The international media frenzy surrounding the Rob Ford saga has intensified […]

BULLETIN: SCC Declares Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act Unconstitutional, Affirms Freedom of Expression in Labour Context

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada in Alberta v United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 2013 SCC 62 declares Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to be unconstitutional, as it breaches a union’s freedom of expression, protected under s. 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedom, and cannot be justified under s. 1. Despite […]

Citizens United Did Not Equate Money with Speech—But McCutcheon Will

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission (McCutcheon). At issue are provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, 2 USC § 431 (the Act), that impose a biennial limit on individual campaign contributions. This lawsuit—brought by Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy Alabama businessman and serial […]

Privacy trumps the press: The Supreme Court grants anonymity to victims of cyberbulling in AB v Bragg Communications Inc

We have all seen how Facebook can shine a global light on local events with the help of news media. Posts that attract enough attention are reported, creating an even bigger splash online. This feedback can even amplify the impact of these events, turning a small protest into a revolution and a politician’s indiscretion into […]

Amici Curiae: Three Newsmakers from the US Supreme Court, the Canadian Courts Are A’Tweetin’ and Julian Assange’s Asylum News

Obama 0, US Supreme Court 2: Supreme Court Refuses to Revisit Citizens United Decision For political and legal enthusiasts in the United States, this was a real behemoth of a week. The Supreme Court of the United States started it off with a bang – or, really, three bangs. It released three decisions on Monday, […]