A national survey suggests that Canadians who identify themselves on the political right are more concerned about freedom of speech compared to the left and are more likely to believe that free speech in Canada is at risk.

A June 2022 national phone survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan found that while Canadians generally believe that the country has freedom of speech, right-wing Canadians are more likely to think Canada has little or no free speech. 

About a quarter of respondents who identify as right-wingers believe that Canada has little or no free speech, while only three percent of left-wingers believe Canada has a lack of free speech.

Right-wing Canadians also want their right to free speech to mirror the American understanding of free speech rights, that the government cannot infringe the right for any reason. Under three percent of left-wing Canadians felt the same way.

Both Canada and the United States prosecute threats and other crimes that not only involve speech but also put someone else in danger.

Canadian law takes this a step further, prohibiting “hate propaganda,” which allows the government to prosecute anyone who disseminates what the government believes to be hate against an “identifiable group” distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.

In recent months, the Trudeau government has unveiled a swath of online censorship bills, which many critics argue put Canadian free speech at risk.

The House of Commons passed Bill C-11, an act that would give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the power to boost government-approved content and turn down the visibility of undesired content.

In the previous parliament, the Trudeau Liberals tabled Bill C-36, an act that would allow the government to crack down on so-called “hate speech” posted online.

The Trudeau government passed legislation that would further expand the hate propaganda label and restrict free expression with Bill C-16, a bill that added gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds to discriminate.