Chernos Contest 2020

Enter our contest


ENTER THE 2020 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 3, 2020.
  • 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 and 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


Sam Smith uses his Twitter account to stay up to date with what MP Rhonda Ramble (his elected representative) is doing in the community. He regularly replies whenever she tweets. Lately, he has been persistently calling her out for attending a rally for a cause he doesn’t agree with. For example, he has tweeted that she is a Nazi-sympathizer. Ms. Ramble has responded by blocking him on Twitter. What rights and freedoms issues should we think about here? Is it fair of Ms. Ramble to block Mr. Smith?

option two

People who are experiencing homelessness sometimes panhandle (ask for spare change) to survive. However, some people perceive people who panhandle as dangerous and a threat to public safety. In response to this perception, your province introduces a law that gives the police broad discretion to ticket or arrest people who panhandle, if the person being asked for change perceives the interaction as threatening or intimidating. What rights and freedoms are at issue here? Is this law fair?

option three

Your province is considering a new law in response to violent physical confrontations between people attending a recent Pride parade, and people protesting against the parade and the LGBTQ2S community. With the aim of safety, the law would prohibit protests in public spaces that create a nuisance, engage in rowdy behaviour, or use profanity. The law would also allow the police to seize any item from protesters that could in their opinion be used to cause violence. What rights and freedoms are at stake here? Does the province’s proposed law balance them appropriately?

Option four

Your folks run a popular online parenting blog for which subscribers pay a monthly fee. Since you were a baby, they have posted pictures and stories documenting every stage of your life. You are embarrassed by many of these posts and want them removed from the internet. Your parents refuse, saying they have the right to publish information about you online, and that they rely on the blog income. You have heard talk of a potential new law called ‘the right to be forgotten’, which enables people to have search engines remove information about them. If this idea became law you could ask search engines to stop searches of your name listing results from your parents’ blog. What rights and freedoms are at play here? Is the right to be forgotten a good idea?

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.

Step four: submit