CJFE Newsletter: May 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear CJFE members and supporters,

What a month! From conferences to reports, to the Review, to new fellowships, it’s hard to believe but it has been even busier than normal at CJFE. We are excited to announce that CJFE is now accepting applications for our first annual Bob Carty Free Expression Fellowship. This new fellowship will offer financial support to free expression initiatives across Canada. Applications are open until June 26. For more information, visit cjfe.org/cartyfellowship. And CJFE's next event will be our very own Annual General Meeting, which will feature a great debate about hate speech laws in Canada. Bernie Farber, David Butt, Clayton Ruby and Sukanya Pillay will go head-to-head, with Julian Sher moderating. If you haven't already, please register or RSVP by emailing Sam Pinto at spinto@cjfe.org. #HateDebate

2014-15 Review of Free Expression in Canada

Of course, we can’t recap May without highlighting the Review of Free Expression in Canada! After months of hard work and with your continued support, CJFE was extremely happy to launch our sixth annual Review. It’s been a fantastic success and we encourage you all to carve out some time to read this important publication. Don’t have time to read the full Review all at once? For shorter reads, check out some individual articles we’ve been spotlighting on CJFE.org:

  • Exclusive Poll: CJFE asked if Canadians care about free expression. You answered with a resounding yes!
  • Exclusive Report Card: CJFE’s annual Report Card is often met with controversy, as not everyone agrees with the grades we have assigned. Have we been too generous? Too critical? Let us know!
  • Harper’s Canada: CJFE’s President, Arnold Amber, examines how under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the federal government poses the greatest threat to free expression in Canada.
  • Doggedly Using ATI: Four stories that show how crucial, yet so fragile, our access to information system is for journalism and Canadians’ everyday lives, as federal officials hide, dodge, and stonewall over important matters through information control.
  • Free Expression and Privacy: OpenMedia’s communications manager, David Christopher, debunks the notion that privacy has nothing to do with free expression – and that only those doing something wrong are placed under surveillance.

World Press Freedom Day

To mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day on May 3, which annually celebrates and defends the fundamental principles of press freedom around the world, CJFE took on four unique projects:

  • 116 Days after Charlie Hebdo: We joined 56 other organizations condemning government clampdowns on free expression around the world. Read the call for government action.
  • Press Freedom in Canada: Threats to press freedom and free expression surround us here at home. CJFE highlighted the most urgent changes needed in Canada to repair our eroding rights.
  • Censorship Tracker: Together with PEN Canada, BCCLA, and CCLA, we invited Canadians to view and report free expression violations from across the country using a crowdsourced interactive mapping tool.
  • Let Local Journalism Thrive: This statement about the harrowing yet crucial work done by local journalists around the world was read at the Fahmy Foundation’s Free Press Solidarity Rally on May 3.

Free expression around the world

  • Kenya: Journalists caught in the crossfire between Kenyan security forces and militant group Al-Shabab face persistent threats and attacks, particularly in light of recent violence in the region.
  • Malaysia: Political cartoonist Zunar faces 43 years in prison if found guilty of pre-colonial sedition charges for tweets and a cartoon he published in February 2015.
  • Turkey: A sustained pattern of hostility towards free expression in Turkey has developed. Read the latest in CJFE’s exchange with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Ottawa.
  • Yemen: CJFE provided in depth analysis of how journalists and human rights defenders are being caught in the crossfire between Houthi militia, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.
  • International Right to Link: CJFE joined a group of over 50 organizations to launch a multilingual international campaign aimed at pushing back against corporate efforts to censor links and stifle free expression on the Internet.

Recent events and activities

  • Flying Blind: This month we hosted a conference on our dwindling right to know in Canada, in partnership with the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University. Thanks to everyone who joined us, and check out the day's best highlights.
  • Canada's Privacy Plan: We also co-launched Canada’s Privacy Plan, a crowdsourced report produced by OpenMedia, which sets out a comprehensive action plan for improving the state of privacy in Canada.

What’s coming up?

  • June 11: CJFE is hosting its Annual General Meeting, followed by a great panel discussion about Canada’s hate speech laws. If you haven’t already, RSVP! #HateDebate
  • June 26: Deadline to submit applications for the 2015-2016 Bob Carty Free Expression Fellowship.

Thanks for reading this month’s newsletter, and everyone here at CJFE hopes to see you at this year’s AGM!

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