Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harper's Government Given a Failing Grade with Regard to Freedom of Expression

Cartoon: Montreal Gazette

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is a Canadian organization founded in 1981 that works to defend and protect the right to free expression in Canada and around the world.

Topics include:
  • CJFE’s Report Card: Like Sheep to the Slaughter
  • About CJFE
  • Still Looking for Answers: Hearings and Inquiries into the G20 Summit
  • A Welcome to WikiLeaks
  • Whatcott v. Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission
  • Iceland: Free Speech Zone
  • CJFE’s Freedom of Expression Index
  • CJFE: 30 Years of Fighting for Free Expression
  • Canadian Journalists Abroad
  • Cross-Canada Free Expression Reports
  • Freedom of Expression on Trial: 2010-11
  • How Access to Information Fails Journalists
  • Appendix: Major Court Decisions 2010-11
  • Whistleblower Protection Still in Its Infancy in Canada
A summary of the report written up by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange: The global network for free expression reports that the CJFE has given the Harper government a failing grade of F for the second year in a row.  Canada is positioned last among five leading democracies.  A number of reasons were cited:
  • access information takes much longer and the information received is far more incomplete
  • The Conservative party was in contempt of Parliament for failing to produce information about major spending programmes
  • over 50% of the federal institutions surveyed for their performance on access to information ranked below average and five failed 
  • 44% of federal access to information requests are not met within the required 30-day limit
  • information complaints take an average of 395 days to resolve 
  • security forces and Harper's government were given a failing grade for calling last summer's G20 Summit in Toronto an "unmitigated success" when over 1000 people were detained under the "most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history" 
  • "long list of violations" of freedom of expression including repeated refusals to recognise the credentials of journalists and multiple incidents of journalist harassment and detention
NOW magazine sponsored a discussion about the state of access to information in Canada which was presented by  CJFE.  Anna Maria Tremonti, of CBC's The Current, hosted.  Panellists included Ottawa Deputy Bureau Chief Dean Beeby of the Canadian Press, former Information Commissioner John Reid and Paula Todd, investigative journalist with CTV's W5.  Excerpts from the event are available on video.

To achieve universal respect for and protection of the right to free expression and access to information.

CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of journalists and media workers around the world. In Canada, we monitor, defend and promote free expression and access to information. We encourage and support individuals and groups to be vigilant in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. We are active participants and builders of the global free expression community.

There is still time to register for the Banned Book Challenge. Set your own goal to read any number of banned or challenged books between February 20, 2011 and June 30, 2011. Then, send us reviews, opinions, etc.

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