Perspectives on censorship: Canada

Continuation of my little survey, explained here. If you haven’t already, do read the previous one on Mexico.

My questions were:

- Whether your country has a history of censorship
– Whether censorship has increased in the past decade
– My particular concern is web 2.0: blogging and social media – how have governments reacted to this?
– If you have any direct experiences of or related to censorship that you can and would like to speak about, and would not mind me publishing on my blog, please share.

The response below, is from a Canadian friend and former colleague, Daniel Scuka.

_______________________

Canada

Read the Wikipedia article on Censorship in Canada for a good backgrounder. My personal opinion, overall, is that Canadians don’t tolerate undue government or societal interference in what they can read, watch, listen to, view or download. There is, however, wide and general support for criminal code prohibitions against, for example, child ponography, and certain other defined types of demonstrably harmful content. Most Canadians, by and large, are content to live and let live, apply the Golden Rule, and are appalled when ‘societal norms’ are exceeded. But criminalisation of certain kinds of content can go too far. In the past decade, the former liberal government tried to institute a gun registry. It was a huge failure and widely hated. Lesson No. 1 in Canada: don’t try to regulate what doesn’t need regulating – people just won’t comply.

Some areas where Canadians need to be vigilant:

Undue or overly broad application of human rights laws, which end up silencing genuine dissent

Growing pressure from religious or other groups to ban books or other forms of expression

The automatic reflex reaction from middle- and minor-level government officials to ban, interdict or otherwise decide upon what’s best for people based on creeping state nannyism.

Does your country have a history of censorship?

Yes! Many examples via Wikipedia and via Freedom to Read; yet this has become less of an issue in recent decades – except for certain groups (e.g. religious groups) who remain increasingly keen to reject or ban anything outside their fixed doctrines.

Has censorship increased in the past decade?

State censorship: no. Individual or group movements to censor certain books or other expressions: somewhat.

My particular concern is web 2.0: blogging and social media – how have governments reacted to this?

In Canada, you can often say pretty much say whatever you want so long as it’s remotely defensible. A recent scandal involved an anonymous Twitter account that revealed (accurate) details about a government minister’s private life. It was widely criticised not on the grounds of the content itself, but on the grounds that it was managed and updated via government-funded, government-networked computers (by someone in the opposition), violating appropriate use regulations.

If you have any direct experiences of or related to censorship that you can and would like to speak about, please share.

None.

__________________

This is a post for Make Blog Not War: a freedom of expression training workshop for bloggers, organized by the Internet Democracy Project.

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5 thoughts on “Perspectives on censorship: Canada

  1. Dan Husain says:

    Dear Amruta:

    You’ve set something in motion where I wish your questionnaire be answered for every country by as many people as it can be! At least the statistically acceptable sample size of 30 across social classes for every country! You bet I am being ambitious an greedy.

    Thanks and please continue the good work.

    With affection,

    D

  2. […] next country in line for the censorship survey, after Mexico and Canada, is the […]

  3. […] In an earlier post, Amruta Mehta wondered whether censorship is the new sterilisation. Since then, she has taken her quest to find out whether censorship is indeed the latest global fad a step further by inquiring about this among friends from around the world. Today, written for Make Blog: a perspective from Canada. Read the original post here. […]

  4. […] In an earlier post, Amruta Mehta wondered whether censorship is the new sterilisation. Since then, she has taken her quest to find out whether censorship is indeed the latest global fad a step further by inquiring about this among friends from around the world. Today, written for Make Blog: a perspective from Canada. Read the original post, published on 23 March 2012, here. […]

  5. […] next country in line for the censorship survey, after Mexico and Canada, is the […]

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