Everything You Need To Know About Freedom Of Speech In Canada

Can freedom ever be absolute? The answer is no. Freedom can never be absolute because the moment that happens, we as a society stand at risk of moving towards anarchy. However, freedom is important as it is a basic human need to express themselves. From the time of cavemen, we have seen how they used wall paintings to depict and express stories of their lives. They certainly found solace and comfort in being able to express themselves and this holds true today as well. Apart from being able to express, freedom of speech is crucial for the development of the society as a whole. This is why, it is an integral part of a democracy and has been included in Canada’s Charter of Rights. Many people seek legal help on the basis of this statute.

Freedom of speech is one of the first freedoms listed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms subject to certain reasonable limits.

Reasonable Limits

Just the way freedom of speech is not absolute in other countries, there are certain restrictions that are imposed on being able to express yourself freely even in Canada. Legal restrictions such as anti-bullying, under the School Act of Alberta and Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives the government the right to limit the extent to which you can use your right to freedom of expression. Instances where freedom of expression leads to hate speeches, obscenity and defamation are subject to criminal charges. This is where the idea of reasonable limits comes in the picture. Once again, the limitation is not very clearly defined. Therefore, these cases tend to attract a lot of public and media attention. The application of reasonable limits varies from case to case.

The Watchdog Agencies

There are various government bodies that keep a tab on the wrongful use of the freedom of expression. The inter-media control institutions that regulate various media channels are The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Ontario Press council and the publishing association. There are different advertising groups that watch out for advertising content across media. The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunication Communication (CRTC) monitors and approves all the scripts of the broadcasting advertisements for food, drugs, and cosmetic products over Canadian stations. In Ontario, the Liquor License Board, under the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, publishes a book listing what can and cannot be published in print and what can be broadcast in advertising for wine, beer, and cider products. All commercials that are intended for children under 12 years of age must follow the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children and is managed by the Children’s Committee of the Advertising Standards Council.

Time and again, there have been numerous cases where the right to freedom of expression has been questioned. The reason for this is the vagueness surrounding the reasonable limits. Are you worried whether your content can attract backlash due to reasonable limits? If, so, then seek legal help from our experts who can advise you in this matter.