Chernos Contest 2021

Enter our contest


ENTER THE 2021 Chernos Contest Today AND BE IN TO WIN $500!


STEP ONE – Choose Your Question

STEP TWO – Choose your format

STEP THREE – Create Your Entry

STEP FOUR – Submit


  • The deadline is May 28, 2021.
  • You must be in Grades 9-12 in the Canadian school system. Home school entries are welcomed.
  • Video entries must be uploaded to Youtube as “Unlisted” so only the people you share the link with can see your entry.
  • DON’T be late! Just like when filing court documents, the deadline is our cut-off.
  • Do NOT include your name, school, grade or course in/on your entry itself. We collect this information in the entry form. Our judges mark the entries without knowing who you are, or what grade or school you are from.
  • DO cite your sources! Citations are required whenever you include direct quotes or statistics, or you paraphrase or adopt someone else’s idea. The last page of your essay or rant script should be a citations list (not NOT included in your word count). Get more info on citing here.
  • If you place in the contest, we will ask you (if you are 18 years or above) or your parents/caregivers to sign media release before we send your prize.

Step one: choose your question


The government of Canada has developed a contact tracing app to notify users whether they have potentially been exposed to someone who has tested positive for covid-19. The app has been assessed by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. In the phase 3 of reopening after a pandemic, the governor of province Z says that all the government employees who are returning to work must download and use the contact tracing app at all times to ensure the safety of their colleagues and their community. If a person refuses to download and use the app, they risk losing their job. What rights and freedoms are at stake here? Do you think this is a fair policy?

option two

In response to complaints from the public of police brutality, the City A has made it mandatory for police officers to wear body cameras while on duty. An officer wearing the camera responded to a call at a private residence. Days later, residents of the home called the police service, concerned that their identity and personal information were recorded by the police in the privacy of their own home. What rights and freedoms are at issue? Do you think that the police body-worn cameras should be running at all times? If so, why? If not, who should decide when the cameras should be turned off and under what circumstances? Are body-worn cameras for police a good idea?

option three

Canadian province X passes a law that stops almost all non-residents from entering its borders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law makes exceptions for individuals with extenuating circumstances and for people permanently moving to province X. Province X states that the decision to ban most non-resident travel was made to protect the health of its residents. In justifying its use of a partial border-closure, province X notes that its health-care services would be quickly overburdened if an outbreak occurs. Jo, a resident of a different Canadian province, attempts to enter province X to attend their mother’s funeral. At province X’s border, Jo is refused entry under the travel prohibition. What are the rights and freedoms at stake here? Does the province’s law fairly balance the competing interests and considerations?

Option four

A group of high school students has become increasingly frustrated with their attempts to get the attention of their local MPs on a number of issues. The students believe that because they are too young to vote, the government ignores their concerns. The group wants to see the voting age changed from eighteen to sixteen years old. Should the voting age be changed? Why or why not?

Step two: choose your format

Essay: 750 – 1000 words (double-spaced, size 12 font, in either Word or PDF format)

Video rant: 3-4 minute Youtube Video+ your script (double-spaced, size 12 font, in either Word or PDF format)

Step Three: create your entry

Write your essay! Record your video! Proof read! Fact check!


All entries should cover at least these basic elements:

  • What is the question you are addressing?
  • What is at stake and why should people care about this issue?
  • What rights and freedoms are at play here?
  • State your thesis, where do you stand on the issue?
  • Consider introducing some strong counter-arguments so you can refute them later.
  • Consider adding a rhetorical device.
  • Now convince us to agree with you by explaining your position and giving us your supporting arguments.
  • Remember, when rights and freedoms conflict, there are many positions one can take. Different stakeholders may be affected by the issues differently so show us you have thought about the problem from multiple perspectives.
  • Address any counter-arguments you raised in your introduction, and provide arguments to refute them. This will help convince us that you have carefully considered and ultimately resolved possible weaknesses in your position.
  • Where possible, support your arguments with evidence from secondary sources (make sure you cite them!).
  • Sum it all up and reinforce your thesis by re-stating the position you are advocating for.
  • Briefly paraphrase your main points but don’t re-state them in full.
  • Consider closing with your own ideas about possible compromises to bring the opposing sides closer together and resolve these issues. Or offer some food for thought with a pithy statement reminding us about the importance of these issues.
  • Research and apply the law! Our The Fundamentals of our Fundamental Freedoms is an excellent primer on conflicts of rights and freedoms. Our Acorn test, a simplified version of the Supreme Court’s Oakes Test, you help you assess the reasonability of limits to Charter rights or freedoms.
  • Ask a teacher or another supporter to review your entry, check for errors, and provide feedback

Video tips

  • Watch a Rick Mercer rant here (yes its old, but still a masterclass in rants)
  • Stick to the 3 to 4 minute time limit. This roughly translates to a 500-700 word script.
  • DO protect your privacy. DON’T film in locations that make it easy to identify you, your home address, your school, or any other personal information.
  • You will need access to a Youtube channel to enter. Make sure you upload your video as “unlisted” NOT “private” or “public”.
  • Be concise! You will not be engaging if you simply write an essay and read it on camera. Include all the necessary content, but make your point in as few words as possible.
  • Use a cell phone, a laptop/tablet, or digital camera, etc. If you are ranting on the move, get a friend to record you.
  • Get your volume, pacing, tone, and style right. We need to hear and understand you.
  • Add animation, music, or other effects if they add to your rant.
  • Use appropriate but engaging language.

Marking Rubric

  • Refer to this marking rubric as you create your submissions so that you know exactly what the judges will be looking for when they evaluate your entries.

Step four: submit