Posts Tagged ‘free speech in Canada’

“Calgary-area mom served with cease and desist letter after going public with classroom concerns”

Alberta, Canada: “A Calgary-area mother who spoke out to CBC News over concerns about a large combined Grade 2 class at Red Deer Lake School has been handed a cease-and-desist letter by a law firm on behalf of the school board….Other parents have also received the letter and are not willing to be interviewed as a result.” [Jennifer Lee, CBC]

December 19 roundup

Free speech roundup

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposes to regulate social media bots, or to put it differently, to regulate a form of speech carried on through automated mechanisms [John Samples, Cato]
  • “The State of New Jersey Wants to Subsidize News. Uh-oh.” [Jack Shafer, Politico] Canada, farther down this road, moves toward outright government subsidies to newspapers [Mylene Crete and Jordan Press, Canadian Press]
  • “Court tosses disbarred lawyer’s suit over newspaper article on his ethics case with a ‘crime’ header” [ABA Journal]
  • Compelled speech in NIFLA v. Becerra: “A First Amendment Win in a Case That Was NOT about Abortion” [Ilya Shapiro and Meggan DeWitt, Eugene Volokh, Erica Goldberg] More: DeWitt Cato podcast;
  • New Nadine Strossen book on hate speech challenges some conventionally accepted ideas about its effects [John Samples, earlier] Man in Pennsylvania charged with felony ethnic intimidation after calling officers who were arresting him Nazis, skinheads, and Gestapo [Joshua Vaughn, The Appeal]
  • Will lawyers face punishment for using wrong-gender pronouns in social or bar-association activities? Lambda Legal suggests the answer is yes [Eugene Volokh]

Ontario lawyers resist mandatory promote-equality pledge

Lakehead University law faculty member Ryan Alford has filed a challenge to the new Ontario bar rule requiring all lawyers to prepare and submit personal “Statement of Principles” avowing their support for equality, diversity, and inclusion. The rules have drawn fire across Canada as compelled speech, but the bar association turned down a request that individual lawyers be allowed exemptions if they believe the requirement violates their conscience. I’ve got a write-up at Cato at Liberty noting the parallels with Model Rule 8.4 (g), adopted by the ABA in 2016, which makes a vaguely defined category of discriminatory conduct, including speech, the subject of discipline as “professional misconduct,” and which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warns would be unconstitutional if adopted into state regulation. I write:

The “Test Acts” were a series of enactments of England that excluded from public office and penalized in other ways those who would not swear allegiance to the prevailing religious tenets of the day. There is no good reason to bring back their principles.

Full piece here. More: Scott Greenfield.

Canada’s inquiry into wrongful climate advocacy

A Canadian government agency investigated three organizations accused of “climate denial” for 14 months after Ecojustice, a leading environmental pressure group, sought criminal charges [Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun] While the bureau eventually discontinued the probe in June, citing “available evidence, the assessment of the facts in this case, and to ensure the effective allocation of limited resources”, it reserved the option to reopen it “should it receive relevant new information from the public.” We have followed the efforts of state attorneys general including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts’s Maura Healey to attach legal consequences to improper advocacy on climate topics; see also our free speech in Canada tag.

Social media liberty roundup

Pronoun prescription in Canada

“Few Canadians realize how seriously these statutes infringe upon freedom of speech. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated, in the context of equivalent provisions in the Ontario Human Rights Code, that ‘refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity … will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education.'” [Bruce Pardy, National Post] We noted the New York City Human Rights Commission’s similar guidance last year.

Free speech roundup

  • “Utah poised to outlaw mentioning people’s names online with intent to ‘abuse’ or ‘harass’” [Eugene Volokh]
  • In win for Paul Alan Levy, Eugene Volokh & co., filer of fake R.I. lawsuits aimed at search engine takedown agrees to settle [Consumer Law & Policy, earlier]
  • Activists shut down speech at Ontario university by criminal defense lawyer who helped CBC radio host beat sex-assault rap [David Millard Haskell, Toronto Star; Wilfrid Laurier University, Brampton invitation to Danielle Robitaille] More: Richard Reeves and Dimitrios Halikias, Brookings on Middlebury case and the “bad news for free speech.” Related: [walks to window, closes blinds as if somehow to keep Christopher Hitchens from seeing what has happened to Slate]
  • North Carolina law prohibits released sex offenders from using Facebook, other social media. Consistent with First Amendment? [Packingham v. North Carolina at the Supreme Court: Cato amicus brief and Ilya Shapiro/Devin Watkins blog post, Federalist Society preview and oral argument podcasts, Issie Lapowsky/Wired]
  • Featuring Frank Buckley, Robert Corn-Revere, and Flemming Rose, John Samples moderating: “Cato Panel Discusses Free Speech, Media, and Trump” [Campaign Freedom] And while on the topic of libel laws: “TechDirt deserves a vigorous defense.” [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]
  • “Another Convicted Felon Tries To Use The DMCA Process To Erase DOJ Press Releases About His Criminal Acts” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

Quebec tribunal orders comedian to pay C$42,000 over jokes

P.C. QC: The misnamed Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has fined comedian Mike Ward C$42,000 for joking about a disabled child singer. “The tribunal ordered Ward to pay Gabriel $25,000 in moral damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for a joke dating back to 2010. The decision also requires Ward to pay an additional $5,000 for moral damages and $2,000 for punitive damages to Jérémy’s mother, Sylvie Gabriel….The ruling has spurred backlash across the comedian community, with many quickly declaring their support for Ward.” [CBC] In 2010 standup comedian Guy Earle was charged in British Columbia with a human rights violation for insulting a patron at a club.

Free speech roundup

  • Sequel to Driehaus case on penalizing inaccurate campaign speech: “A Final Goodbye to Ohio’s Ministry of Truth” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier here, here]
  • FCC commissioner Ajit Pai: U.S. tradition of free expression slipping away [Washington Examiner]
  • Québécois comedian Mike Ward is already out $100,000 in legal fees after discovering how CHRC can stand for Crushes Humor, Ruins Comedy [Gavin McInnes, The Federalist]
  • 10th Circuit free speech win: Colorado can’t shackle small-group speech against ballot measure [Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, earlier]
  • New York Times goes after publisher of “War Is Beautiful” book: are picture thumbnails fair use? [Virginia Postrel, earlier]
  • Constitutional? Not quite: Illinois bill would ban posting “video of a crime being committed” “with the intent to promote or condone that activity” [Eugene Volokh]