Canada | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Under Canada's Constitution Act of 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides constitutional protection for freedom of expression, including freedom of the press. Defamatory libel and blasphemous libel are criminal offenses according to the federal criminal code. There are no laws regulating the distribution of print media. Press freedom in Canada has declined slightly in recent years due to increasing concentration of media ownership. Media in Canada are generally free, though they sometimes exercise self-censorship in areas such as violence on television. Some civil libertarians have expressed concern over an amendment to the criminal code giving judges wide latitude in determining what constitutes hate speech on the Internet. In February 2003, press freedom groups criticized Bill C-20, an act to amend Canada's criminal code to combat child pornography. The groups said the amendment provided greater powers for law enforcement to seize materials from private citizens and that it threatened artistic expression. In June, press freedom groups criticized a Quebec City court for signing search warrants that would allow police to seize video recordings from several television stations as part of an investigation into a teenage prostitution case. In December, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression called on Ontario's attorney general to cease criminal proceedings against author Stephen Williams. Williams wrote two books critical of police investigations into serial killings of young women in the 1990s, in alleged violation of a publication ban. Police had earlier raided Williams's home, confiscating computer equipment.