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Canadian Media Essay

1002 words - 4 pages

In 1968 a Broadcasting Act was passed that forever changed the face of Canadian media. The act, part of an attempt by the Trudeau administration to centralize Canadian cultural activity, replaced the Board of Broadcast Governors with the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC). The CRTC, much more powerful than the Board of Broadcast Governors before it, did not waste time in making new Canadian content requirements. On February 12, 1970 the commission proposed an increase to the content levels, requiring television stations to broadcast at least 60 percent Canadian content (an increase from the previous minimum of 50 percent), and “30 percent for AM radio” (Edwardson, 200). For a country that seems to pride itself on its free speech, the Canadian government has a long history of telling its citizens what to listen to, watch, read, and say. The government should act as a tool in our hands rather than a bind around our throats, and should not be allowed to intervene in our personal choices so long as they do not harm other citizens.
Perhaps the most debated, and controversial, issue concerning censorship is hate speech. The Criminal Code of Canada states that anyone “who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace…is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years” (Criminal Code, 1985). It can be argued, however, that such laws are unconstitutional, and violate the rights of Canadian citizens. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that every Canadian citizen has the right to “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” (s. 2). I by no means support the views of those that would engage in hate speech, but all Canadians should have a right to speak their mind, no matter how terrible it may be.
One interesting case of hate speech that is currently unfolding are the series of events concerning the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. The members of the church have been known to picket the funerals of various groups including, but not limited to: homosexuals, American soldiers, and Jews. Such actions would, of course, be illegal under Canadian law. In the United States, however, it is illegal for any law to restrict the free speech of the American people, regardless of how hateful it may be. The U.S. constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Mount). This does not mean, however, that the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket these funerals has not been called into question. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church after they had been sued by the...

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