News Bytes

Freedom of expression issues in the media


ANNOUNCING FREEDOM TO READ WEEK 2020: FEBRUARY 23–29

Events and activities across Canada celebrate freedom of expression, challenge censorship. Freedom to Read Week encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom. “The freedom to read and write is crucial to the health of the literary arts in Canada, and every year Freedom to Read Week brings to light how […]


Quebec Libraries Remove the Works of Gabriel Matzneff

In Quebec, public libraries in Montreal and Gatineau have withdrawn the works of Gabriel Matzneff from their collections. In France, the police are investigating Matzneff, once a celebrated author, for having sex with youngsters.   REPORTAGE Sandra Abma of CBC News reports: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/library-censorship-gabriel-matzneff-gatineau-opl-1.5426244   In La Presse, Raphael Pirro reports: https://www.lapresse.ca/arts/litterature/202001/08/01-5256130-matzneff-retire-godbout-reste-a-la-grande-bibliotheque.php   Basem Boshra of […]


Two Poems Removed from Website of Parliamentary Poet Laureate

In Ottawa, the Library of Parliament recently removed two poems from the website of the parliamentary poet laureate. The poems — “Plaza Domingo” and “Alejandra” — were written by Stephen Brown. In 1995, Brown — then named Steven Kummerfield — and a male friend killed Pamela George, a First Nations woman. Both men were convicted […]


Canadian Editor Loses Job over Tweets

An editor of the Humber Literary Review has lost his job because of the messages that he had posted on Twitter about Meghan Murphy’s recent speech at the Toronto Public Library. In The Post Millennial, Anna Slatz writes: https://www.thepostmillennial.com/canadian-literary-editor-fired-after-supporting-free-speech/


Quebec’s Court of Appeal Rules on Gabriel v. Ward

In Quebec, the Court of Appeal has ruled on a dispute that pits a comedian’s freedom of expression against a singer’s freedom from discrimination. On November 28, 2019, the court upheld a verdict that requires Mike Ward, a stand-up comedian, to pay singer Jérémy Gabriel $35,000. In his act, Mr. Ward had repeatedly made Mr. […]


Illinois School Officials Cancel Canadian Author’s Visit

In early October 2019, school officials in Illinois cancelled the scheduled visit of a Canadian author because stories about “gender identity” in her non-fiction children’s book “caused concern.” Officials in Community Unit School District 200, which serves the towns of Wheaton and Warrenville near Chicago, cancelled Robin Stevenson’s visit to Longfellow Elementary School. Her book […]


Aftermath of Meghan Murphy’s Appearance at Toronto Public Library

In Toronto, city councillors have voted 20 to 1 to review the policies that govern the use of the city’s community spaces, including public libraries. The vote occurred after hundreds of demonstrators protested the appearance of Meghan Murphy, a feminist writer and speaker, at a branch of the Toronto Public Library on October 29, 2019. […]


An Attack on Turtle Island News

In southern Ontario, an unknown person drove a stolen truck into the office of a First Nation’s newspaper and started a blaze in the early hours of October 28, 2019. The office of Turtle Island News, which is located in the Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton, suffered approximately $150,000 worth of damage. […]


Vancouver Public Library Revises Room-Booking Policy

The board of the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) has approved a revised policy for people who wish to book library rooms and equipment. The VPL affirms its support for intellectual freedom. It will not block speakers, even those deemed “offensive or harmful,” as long as they do not violate the Criminal Code or B.C.’s human […]


Nova Scotia Proposes “100% China-Friendly” Website

Nova Scotia Business Inc. — an agency of Nova Scotia’s government — wants to establish a website in the People’s Republic of China. The website, which NSBI hopes to launch on November 1, 2019, would try to attract Chinese investment, help Nova Scotian exporters sell in China and build the province’s brand equity. The website […]