Freedom Of Expression Essay

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Freedom of Expression Background by Graham Darling, University of Alberta LL.B. student Freedom of expression is one of the Fundamental Freedoms protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[i] When the Charter was added to the Constitution in 1982, freedom of expression gained the strongest possible legal protection. Before the Charter, freedom of expression was still recognized as an important liberty. "Freedom of expression has long been considered an essential element in the development of the social, educational and political foundations of Western society."[ii] Canadians have recognized that a democratic government requires citizens to be able to voice their opinions, debate ideas, and communicate their thoughts. The ability to publicly critique government is important within Canada and is a key component of Canada's political system.[iii] In addition to political expression, freedom of expression also allows us to share our ideas, learn about the ideas of others, and develop as individuals in an open society. Section 2(b) of the Charter protects "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication."[iv] In addition to constitutional protection, the common law (law developed by the courts as opposed to acts of Parliament) has historically protected fundamental rights including freedom of expression.[v] More recently, Canadian and provincial Bills of Rights and Human Rights Codes have also added statutory protection. Canada has also signed on to international legal instruments that protect expression such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[vi] and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[vii] Charter protection of expression covers more than just political speech. Any form of communication that is capable of conveying meaning is considered to be

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