CJFE Launches First Ever Report on Free Expression in Canada

Exclusive Information available for World Press Freedom Day (May 3)

TORONTO, April 28 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) will publish its first annual report on the state of free expression in Canada on May 3, World Press Freedom Day. The report will be made available in advance to journalists and media on Friday, April 30.

This has been a noteworthy year for free expression issues in Canada, for better or worse. From the groundbreaking decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to the vigorous stonewalling of the federal government on freedom to information, more significant issues have arisen in the past year than in many other years, perhaps decades.

CJFE's annual Free Expression Report will provide Canadians with a frank assessment of the health of free expression in Canada. The report will discuss the new legal defence for defamation, analyze why human rights commissions should not be trying to regulate offensive speech and CJFE will grade government departments from A to - unfortunately - F.

Today, we offer a special sneak preview of the report - CJFE's Freedom of Expression Index 2009 which gives a snapshot of free speech issues in Canada. It is available for media publication on May 3 (see below).

Highlights of the report include:

    -   Free Expression on Trial - a review of the legal cases before the
        Supreme Court (eight in 2009), and various appeal courts and human
        rights tribunals, on issues of defamation, publication bans and hate
        speech; an exclusive by journalist and author Terry Gould

    -   Information on a (short) leash - an analysis of the crisis in our
        Access to Information system by Terry Gould and journalist Bob Carty

    -   Olympics Watch - violations of freedom of expression during the Games

    -   Canadians Abroad - examining the cases of Canadians journalists
        attacked or detained abroad including Maziar Bahari and Amanda

    -   Will Free Speech Get Caught in the Web - a column by Paul Knox, Chair
        of the Ryerson School of Journalism

    -   Undermining Trust: police impersonating journalists by Kelly Toughill
        of Kings College School of Journalism

The project was launched with the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (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.


         (The following excerpt is embargoed from publication until
                               May 2, 9:00p.m.)

                    CJFE Freedom of Expression Index 2009

                 A snapshot of free speech issues in Canada

         Number of American journalists detained by Canadian border
         authorities and questioned whether they were coming here to
                          criticize the Olympics: 4

         Number of cases involving freedom of expression considered
                  by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2009: 8

        Length of time Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari was detained
      and tortured in an Iranian prison: 118 days, 12 hours, 54 minutes

          Months Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was held after
                being kidnapped in Sudan on Aug. 23, 2008: 15

           Number of direct violent attacks against Canadian media
                        outlets that were reported: 2

             Number of rural Canadians without reliable access to
                        broadband Internet: 3 million

             Percentage of federal Access to Information requests
           that were not met in the required 30-day time limit: 43

         Percentage of requests for which it took more than 60 days
                            to get a response: 23

            Average number of days to resolve a federal Access to
                         Information complaint: 395

             Number of campaign promises made by Stephen Harper
                 in 2006 to reform Access to Information: 8

                         Promises kept: 1 (partially)

         Published by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
           in recognition of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2010

                       To find out more visit cjfe.org

Sources: 1-4 and 11, CJFE; 5, The Globe & Mail; 6-7, Treasury Board Info Source; 8, Office of the Information Commissioner; 9-10, Fallen Behind: Canada's Access to Information Act in the World Context by Stanley Tromp.

SOURCE Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

For further information: For further information: CJFE Manager, Julie Payne, (416) 515-9622 x. 226, jpayne@cjfe.org

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