Conversations for Civil Liberties and Social Justice

Want to learn more about civil liberties issues in Canada and make your opinion known? Join in the conversation!!  These are informal gatherings, where speakers are asked to share their views and engage in a discussion about current topics in civil liberties.  Upcoming Conversations are listed below – we would love to have you join us, and whenever possible we will post videos of the events so everyone can listen in.

Not in Toronto? Have a topic you want to talk about?  Host your own Conversation!! Send Dora an email – –  and let us know where you are and what you want to talk about.  We’ll do our best to see if a CCLA staff person will be in your area, or if there are any other local speakers we can recommend.


Bloggers behind bars: how an unconstitutional law is still putting people in jail

Monday February 11, 6:30-8:00 pm / Memorial Room, Trinity-St. Paul United Church, 427 Bloor St W, Toronto

Courts in at least five provinces have found that s. 301 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes defamatory speech, is unconstitutional. It is a provision that can be used to jail people who speak publicly and negatively about others – even if what they say is true. It is clearly an unjustifiable violation of freedom of expression. So why are people still being arrested, charged and imprisoned under this offence? Join us for a review of some recent cases where this section of the criminal code has been used, and a broader discussion of criminal libel and what role it plays in contemporary Canadian society. And then join us in the fight to have this crime taken off the books for good!

Speakers will include Jamie Cameron, Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and Abby Deshman, Program Director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Download the event poster


Celebrate our Freedom to Read!!

Friday March 1, 5:30 – 7:30 pm / Hart House Library, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto

Join Katherine Govier, Joy Kogawa, the University of Toronto’s writer in residence, and Toronto’s poet laureate George Elliott Clarke in a celebration of freedom of expression in Canada. We’ll have readings from the authors, a discussion of the state of freedom of expression in Canada moderated by author Marian Botsford Fraser, and an open mic session where people can pick up and read from their favourite banned book of choice. Many thanks to the Hart House Literary and Library Committee for co-hosting!! February 24 – March 2 is Freedom to Read week – you can check out a full listing of fantastic events taking place across Canada at

>> View photos from the event here.


‘That’s not fair': Teaching democratic literacy in the classroom

Friday March, 22, 12:15- 1:45 pm / CSI Annex – Meeting Room 1, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto

As soon as children begin to complain that things are unfair, they are ready to embark on the life-long journey of civic engagement. Come join April Julian and Danielle McLaughlin of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in exploring ways to help young people think critically about rights and freedoms. Let’s make sure the next generation cares about social justice and develops the habits of democracy.

>> Learn more at!


Refugee Rights are Human Rights

April 4, 6 – 9 pm, / Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St., Toronto

Join the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Toronto’s Roma Community Centre on April 4th, Canada’s Refugee Rights Day, for an evening of art, discussion and learning.  We will have a panel discussion on refugee rights in Canada featuring Professor Sean Rehaag from York University’s Osgoode Hall, and Viktoria Mohacsi, a former Member of the European Parliament and the current coordinator of the Roma Community Centre’s Legal Clinic.  The discussion will be followed by a slide show and the official gala opening of the Roma Rising Canada Art Exhibit, a community based education initiative to cultivate hope and build the capacity of Canada’s Roma community to fight racism and prejudice, while helping to break down the barriers of negative Gypsy stereotypes and misconceptions about Romani people.

>> Read the Live-Blog from the event here.

>> See photos from the event here.


The innocent behind bars: A day in the life of a remand prisoner

July 18, 12:30 – 2 pm / Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 210, Toronto

For those who have never been inside a jail or in conflict with the law, prisons are hidden institutions, often shrouded in myth or sensationalized in the media. The reality in Ontario’s provincial prisons is quite stark: the large majority of prisoners are legally innocent – that is, still awaiting trial and without any determination of their guilt – and the overcrowded conditions inside are becoming increasingly unsafe. Join the CCLA and the John Howards Society of Ontario for a presentation, using real photographs of living spaces in Ontario prisons, that aims to shed light on what life is really like for the innocent behind prison walls.


Seeking Access to Information: A Discussion on the State of Access to Information in Canada

August 22, 12:30 – 2 pm / Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 210, Toronto

The federal Access to Information Act celebrated its 30th anniversary this summer amidst calls from Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault to overhaul the Act.  According to Legault, “our access to information rights have been slowly eroded by a variety of constraints, practices and amendments to the act.”  Moreover, “…the act does not cover all institutions that spend taxpayers’ money or perform public functions. One such institution is Parliament itself — the seat of our democracy.”

Join us on Thursday, August 22nd at 12:30 pm for a discussion with journalist Paul Knox on the current state of access to information legislation in Canada. Knox has worked as a reporter, editor and broadcaster for over 30 years. He teaches at Ryerson’s School of Journalism and is a member of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)’s Canadian Issues committee.

>> Watch a video recap of the discussion here.

Seeking Access to Information: A Hands-on Workshop on Navigating Canada’s Access to Information System

Saturday, September 28, 1 – 4 pm / Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 210, Toronto

Join us on Saturday, September 28th from 1pm-4pm for a hands-on workshop intended to teach individuals how to navigate Canada’s Access to Information System. The workshop will be hosted by Tim Groves and Tia Dafnos.


And there’s more – we have a whole year of events we will be programming – so check back often, details about the rest will be posted shortly!!