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Now more than ever, it is important for individuals to understand their rights when they are planning or attending a protest. That is why we invite the public to consult CCLA’s Know Your Rights Guide on Protest.

Across Canada, there are currently several student protest encampments on university campuses. Many of these institutions have engaged in discussions with students, and no university has sought a judicial order to remove these encampments. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association urges universities to continue to acknowledge the importance of freedom of expression and freedom to peacefully protest for students.

Freedom of expression is critically necessary in our public spheres to allow for engagement in public debates. History shows that persecuted minority and marginalized groups have needed expressive freedom to communicate their concerns and bring awareness to their cause. Supporting expressive freedom should not imply support for – or criticism of – the underlying cause or opinion being expressed.

The freedom to peacefully protest is also a protected activity in our democracy. Such freedom is, at times, intended to cause disruption in order to be impactful. Strong protections for the right to protest are particularly essential in the context of university campuses. Universities are places where the free flow of speech, opinions and debate has been – and should continue to be – encouraged and protected. Campuses are important communal spaces for the flourishing of debates and discussions.

Peaceful protests should not be suppressed in a free and democratic society. Protesters have a right to make their views known, unless there is a threat to the physical safety of individuals, in which case universities must take reasonable and proportionate steps to protect the safety of people on their campuses.

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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