Following the release of a study on Canadians’ beliefs about free speech, an “expert on hate crime and right-wing extremism” dismissed freedom of speech as a “rallying call for the far-right.”
The study, conducted by the University of Saskatchewan, alleged that there is a direct relationship between someone’s views on free speech and their political leaning. Right-leaning Canadians feel there should be no limit on speech, even when the speech could be considered offensive.
Jason Disano, the research director, told CTV News that the purpose of the survey, which involved just 1,000 respondents from all over the country, was to get an idea of where Canadians stood on the issue of free speech “given the prominent role that the phrase ‘freedom’ has been playing in the current Conservative Party of Canada leadership campaign.”
80% of all respondents said that there is, or somewhat is, freedom of speech in Canada. A large percentage of respondents also said that online platforms have a responsibility to censor hate speech and the spread of “misinformation.”
“But when you break that down into one’s political leanings, that’s when you really see differences in Canadian views and opinions in the extent to which that freedom of speech should be [limited],” said Disano.
About 25% of right-leaning respondents said that there is limited on no free speech in Canada. Only 3% of left-leaning respondents gave the same response.
Director of Center for Hate, Bias, and Extremism at Ontario Tech University Barbara Perry, who is an “expert on hate crime and right-wing extremism” chimed in and said that free speech is now “a rallying call for the far-right,” especially for the alt-right.
“If we look at the narrative over the past few years, there has been an emphasis on cancel culture. Free speech has become a rallying call for the far-right. It’s always been there, but I think it was really amplified by the emergence of the alt-right in particular,” she said.