Open Call for Submissions

In 2020-21, the Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression will study and recommend a plan on how to mitigate the negative effects on Canadian democracy of online hate, disinformation and other forms of harmful content while encouraging the broadest possible application of the freedom of expression in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Commission invites interested members of the public and institutions to present a written submission to the Commission consistent with the five areas of inquiry set out below.

  1. The Scale and Scope of the Challenge in Canada
  2. The Impact on Democracy in Canada
  3. The Role and Responsibilities of Digital Platforms
  4. The Effectiveness of Existing Legal and Regulatory Provisions
  5. The Balance Between Countering Hate and Disinformation and Safeguarding Free Speech

When preparing your submission, you may wish to consider responding to any, or all of the following questions to consider associated with the relevant line of inquiry.

Submission form

Questions to Consider

The Scale and Scope of the Challenge in Canada

  1. To what extent and in what form are Canadians currently subjected to content online that detracts from the quality of our democracy and their right to an informed debate rather than contributing to it. This could entail information meant to sow division, willfully misinform (as has been seen in the pandemic), promote hate, incite violence or intimidate others from participating in public debate?
  2. Are some Canadians disproportionately targeted than others?
  3. Who, if anyone, should be held responsible for creating and disseminating this content?

The Impact on Democracy in Canada

  1. To what extent and in what ways does such content impact democratic expression in Canada?
  2. To what extent do harmful actions in virtual space promote illegal physical acts.
  3. To what extent and in what ways does such online content undermine Canadians full participation in Canada’s democracy.

The Role and Responsibilities of Digital Platforms

  1. What role are digital platforms and technologies playing in the propagation and amplification of illegal and harmful content online?
  2. Should digital platforms bear responsibility for content on their sites, or should this rest with the individuals involved?
  3. How are digital platforms currently protecting users and are these protections sufficient and effective?
  4. Is the current model of self-regulation effective and if not, what other forms of regulation, including government regulation should be considered?

The Effectiveness of Existing Legal and Regulatory Provisions

  1. Are existing criminal and non-criminal provisions sufficient to protect Canadians from the creation and/or dissemination of online content that infringes the rights of individuals to democratic expression? If so, are they being used effectively and if not, how can they be better applied?
  2. If existing provisions are insufficient, what gaps exist and how might they be addressed?

The Balance Between Countering Hate and Disinformation and Safeguarding Free Speech

  1. What is the right balance between preventing and mitigating the effects of online content harmful to democratic expression, on the one hand, and safeguarding freedom of expression on the other?

Submissions will be collected up to October 31, 2020.

If you have any questions related to a submission, please email Lisa Semchuk at lsemchuk@ppforum.ca