What is Freedom of Expression?

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The debates around freedom of expression are in the news these days. For example, there is the case of Mike Ward against Jérémy Gabriel, heard recently by the Supreme Court of Canada. There are also the discussions around academic freedom in universities. Do you know what freedom of expression is?

Free to Express Yourself

Freedom of expression allows you to express yourself. For example, you can say what you think about the most recent song of your favourite singer. You can also say that the government needs to make a new law to respond to a social issue. You can express yourself artistically (music, humour), in writing or by other forms of expression.

Certain physical acts without words are also protected by freedom of expression. Your expression must have a meaning for it to be protected.  For example, parking a car is not protected expression. However, parking in a reserved spot as a way to protest something could be protected.

There Are Limits

Freedom of expression is vast, but it has limits.

For instance, acts of violence or threats are not protected by this freedom. So, a person cannot make threats of violence and claim they are protected by freedom of expression.

Hate speech against an ethnic or religious group is also normally against the law.

Your Rights and Freedoms Explained

Rights and freedoms are complex concepts. For more information, visit the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms Made Easy.