In light of the steep growth in social and democratic harms online, the Public Policy Forum established the Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression  to study and provide informed advice on how to reduce harmful speech on the internet without impairing free speech. The Commission comprised seven eminent Canadians, including The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, while the Assembly brought together a randomly selected body of 42 Canadians representing every province and territory as well as the breadth of perspectives and diversity of Canada.

The Reports:

The Commission has set out an integrated program of six practical steps that rejects a policy of aggressive takedown of content in favour of a citizen-centric approach that places responsibility for hateful and harmful content firmly on the shoulders of platforms and its creators.

  • The 2020-21 Report of the Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression; Harms Reduction: A Six-Step Program to Protect Democratic Expression Online, authored by the Commissioners.

Read the Commission report

  • The 2020-21 Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Expression; Recommendations to Strengthen Canada’s Response to New Digital Technologies and Reduce the Harm Caused by their Misuse, authored by a representative body of 42 Canadians

Read the Citizens’ Assembly report


Each year for three years, the initiative will bring together a small group of eminent Commissioners to develop recommendations that address the democratic harms of digital technologies.  

In 2020-21, the Commission will study and publish advice on how to prevent and mitigate the negative effects of illegal and other forms of harmful online content on democracy in Canada while encouraging robust democratic debate and dialogue.  

The first year of the initiative will conclude in March 2021 with the publication of the Commissions annual findings in the form of a written report.  

Terms of reference

The 2020 Commissioners

We are pleased to announce the participation of seven eminent Canadians who have agreed to serve as Commissioners in 2020-21. The Commissioners bring a range of perspectives and skills and have extensive experience in the areas of law, media, technology, citizen participation, and politics.

“The Commission has been constructed with true participation at its core: the public’s voices and the experts, filling a gap on research not overseen by technology providers or a study’s sponsoring party. We look forward to engagement across the spectrum and the valuable input both the Commissioners and the public will provide.”Michel Cormier, Executive Director of the Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression

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