Our first Freedom Defender of the Week

Our first Freedom Defender of the Week

We know it’s easy to get discouraged about the fight for freedom in Canada from time to time, so we thought it be helpful to start a new section in our newsletter celebrating individuals who are trying to build a freer Canada!

For our inaugural Freedom Defender of the week, CCF Counsel Josh Dehaas has picked Julia Malott

Here is Josh’s summary:

Julia Malott is an Ontario parent and transgender activist who spoke out against the Region of Waterloo’s misguided plan to allow bylaw officers to ticket people for saying words that make others feel “harassed, tormented, troubled, worried, plagued, badgered,” or that they otherwise consider offensive. This bylaw is plainly contrary to the guarantee of freedom of expression in the Charter, which protects all expression regardless of content, subject to limits like criminal hate speech laws that are reserved for only the most extreme kinds of incitement to vilification and detestation of minority groups.

Malott spoke out against the law and its potential chilling effect on legitimate protests on Twitter and in council chambers in an unsuccessful attempt to get councillors to reconsider. Malott writes:

“I regularly encounter plenty of degrading transgender hate that I would love to not have to face,” Malott wrote. “But as this amendment is currently written, the threshold for violating the Bylaw is not an objective measure—it is a measure of whether someone finds the expressed speech was unwelcome and reasonably lead (sic) them to feel offended or harassed. The amendment moves well beyond existing Provincial and Federal legislation against hate speech to restrict any identity-related message that an individual might not wish to hear. This bar is much lower than the bar for hate speech, and it’s also entirely subjective.”

“How have we reached a place where municipal staff feel that such a democratic overreach is acceptable?” Malott asked.

What did you think of Josh’s pick?

Sign up to our weekly Freedom Update emails to stay updated about our work, the news stories we’re following, and our new section highlighting Canadians defending constitutional rights and freedoms.