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Freedom to Read Kit 2016

NOTE: The Freedom to Read Kit will not be available in 2022.

The Freedom to Read Kit is an annual review of current censorship issues in Canada, featuring provocative news articles, interviews with champions of free speech, and a Get Involved section with activities designed for classroom instruction and discussion.

Celebrate Freedom to Read Week 2022 by ordering posters.


As 2015 draws to a close, many Canadians are wondering about the changes a new federal government will bring. In particular, what changes lie ahead for many of the free expression issues that have preoccupied us for the last few years such as the muzzling of federal government scientists, the closing of federal archives and libraries, surveillance and privacy, copyright law in the context of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, access to information and government transparency?

Lacking a crystal ball, we can’t predict whether these changes will be positive or negative, inspiring or disappointing. But it is a good time to take stock. What is the state of free expression in Canada? What are our most pressing concerns? Freedom to Read (FtR) 2016 takes a look.

Former FtR editor Elizabeth Raymer returns with an analysis of the murky world of state surveillance and the impact that the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 could have on Canadians’ right to privacy. Paul Weinberg writes about Canadian cartoonists, censorship and self-censorship.

We are thrilled to welcome back ‘Cúagilákv/Jess Housty, the free expression champion featured in FtR 2014. Change is at the heart of her story about the devastating effects of censorship on indigenous culture.

This year’s champion of free expression is librarian and educator Alvin M. Schrader. Our feature interview with him is a poignant reminder of how our best librarians are also some of our staunchest defenders of free expression.

Schrader is also a contributor to this issue. He and Donna Bowman describe the many reasons people want to censor or restrict access to books in their annual survey of challenged publications. And writer Charles Montpetit delves into another type of challenge to books in Quebec.

Elise Moser tells us about PEN Canada’s new Censorship Tracker, Tom Henheffer talks with rebel journalist Jesse Brown, John Degen explores copyright infringement, and Donald Lynch writes about controversial books from our past.

There’s much more to discover inside. Enjoy!

— Jaclyn Law and Julie Payne, Co-editors

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%image% Contents


News Bytes
By Franklin Carter


Word Warrior: Alvin M. Schrader
By Julie Payne

Three Free Expression Organizations
You Should Know
By Caitlin Smith

The Language and Stories of Reconciliation
By ‘Cúagilákv/Jess Housty

Where to Draw the Line: Censorship
and Self-Censorship in Canadian
Newspaper Editorial Cartooning
By Paul Weinberg

Off Limits: Who Decides What Kids
and Teens Get to Read?
By Nicole Brewer

Meanwhile in Quebec… Warning: Controversial
By Charles Montpetit

Charter of Readers’ Rights and
By Jason Proctor

Understanding Canadian
Defamation Law

By Nicole Brewer and Reva Pomer

Is Canada Becoming a Surveillance
By Elizabeth Raymer

Front Lines

Should We Also Have the Freedom
NOT to Speak?
By William Kowalski

Canadaland’s Jesse Brown
By Tom Henheffer

Freedom to Read v. Political Correctness: Should Anyone Dictate What You Can Read?
By Donald Lynch

Tracking Down Censorship
By Elise Moser

Library Challenges from A to Z: Results of the 2014 Survey of Challenges to Resources and Policies in Canadian Libraries
By Alvin M. Schrader and Donna Bowman

Book Profiles: Your Right to Know, reviewed by Hilary McLaughlin; The Tyranny of Silence, reviewed by Franklin Carter; Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, reviewed by Laura Tribe

2015 Free Expression Awards

Get Involved

We Go Behind the Scenes at The Hamilton Spectator
By Julie Payne

Challenged Books and Magazines

What You Need to Know to Get What You Need: Access to Information

Test Your Free Expression Knowledge
By Julie Payne

By Ellina Pe Benito and Angela Aguila

Word-Search Puzzle

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%image% Credits

Co-Editors: Jaclyn Law and Julie Payne

Consulting Editor: Franklin Carter

Creative Director: Reva Pomer

Poster Illustration: Barbara Klunder

Contributors: Angela Aguila, Donna Bowman, Nicole Brewer, Franklin Carter, John Degen, Tom Henheffer, ‘Cúagilákv/Jess Housty, Don Lynch, Anne McClelland, Hilary McLaughlin, Charles Montpetit, Elise Moser, Julie Payne, Ellina Pe Benito, Reva Pomer, Jason Proctor, Elizabeth Raymer, Alvin M. Schrader, Caitlin Smith, Laura Tribe, Paul Weinberg

Fact Checkers: Kisha Ferguson, Lisa Hannam, Jason Proctor, Jay Smith