By Alexandra Theodorakidis
An important feature of our annual Review of Free Expression in Canada is CJFE’s Free Expression Report Card. Each year we assign grades to various Canadian institutions based on how well they have upheld free expression values over the past year. In our fifth Review, released earlier this month, the institutions we graded ranged from Canada’s outdated Access to Information Act to Anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario.
The grades we give tend to receive mixed responses, so when we released the Review on April 30th, we asked you to share with us how you would have voted.
Here’s what our readers thought:
Most respondents agreed with the grades we gave—especially the failing ones. The most poignant response was that 100% of respondents agreed with our F grade for the federal and provincial governments’ protection of whistleblowers. We also gave the RCMP an I for Incomplete, for which 90% of respondents thought that failing grade was deserved.
The most mixed results were regarding Anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario. CJFE gave a B grade to the initiative to introduce legislation that would make it more difficult to bring frivolous lawsuits against people speaking out on a matter of public interest. While 30% of respondents concurred, 40% believed that the legislation deserved a C, likely due to the fact the bill has yet to be passed nearly one year after being introduced in the provincial legislature. A further 20% voted that Anti-SLAPP should get a D. Unfortunately, now that an election has been called in Ontario, the Bill has died and will need to be reintroduced with the new parliament.
Finally, while CJFE saw fit to give CSEC and the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner a grade of D for spying on Canadians, 80% of respondents felt this was not harsh enough – giving CSEC an F instead. This was an interesting response considering CJFE’s recent national poll, featured in the 2013-14 Review, in which many Canadians responded with apathy towards their government spying on them.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our poll and shared their opinions.
CJFE’s original grades