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Survey suggests Canadians’ stance on free speech is hampered by their political views – Saanich News

A new survey suggests that there is a strong correlation between a person’s political views and their views on free speech in Canada.

Respondents on the right were more likely to believe that there was no limit to speech, including the right to express hateful and offensive opinions.

The national telephone survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was conducted between June 1 and June 27. It asked 1,000 people about their political inclinations and their views on free speech.

Research director Jason Disano said he wanted to understand where people stand on the issue “because of the well -known role of the phrase ‘freedom’ in the current campaign of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership.”

He said overall, eight out of 10 respondents – or nearly 86 percent – said they believe they have, or somewhat have, freedom of speech. Most respondents also said they believe governments and corporations like Twitter and Meta – formerly known as Facebook – should intervene to limit the spread of misinformation and hate speech.

“But when you share that with someone’s political leaning, that’s where you really see the differences in Canadian views and opinions to the extent that that freedom of speech should be (limited),” Disano said.

Approximately one in four of respondents leaning from right to most right believe that Canadians have very little or no freedom of speech compared to approximately three percent of leftist respondents who feel the same way.

“It’s not surprising,” said Barbara Perry, director of the Center of Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University.

“If we look at the narrative over the past few years, there’s been an emphasis on the culture of cancellation. Free speech has been a rallying call for the far right. It’s always been there, but I think it’s really fueled by the emergence of alt -right in particular.

Disano said the Prairies had the highest proportion of people identified as right-leaning at 31.5 percent, with people in Quebec with the lowest at 18.6 percent.

In Canada, hate speech is against the law. But in the United States, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech including the right to express hateful comments and offensive opinions.

Survey respondents were asked if they agreed with the Canadian or American approach to speech limitations.

Disano said eight out of 10 respondents agreed with Canada’s approach.

However, approximately one in three respondents, or 31 per cent, who said they were on the right supported America’s unlimited approach, with most respondents-22.4 per cent-coming from the Prairies and the lowest from Atlantic Canada. with 4.5 percent.

As for those who lean to the left, 2.5 percent of respondents said they, too, would like no speech limits.

Perry said “American free speech absolutism” has emerged in Canada and can be attributed to social media.

“We’re not just talking about speech that hurts or hurts someone’s feelings, we’re really talking about harmful speech and speech that has the potential to do real harm,” Perry said.

“It’s back to the internet and having what they think is easily accessible to spread whatever hate, and misconceptions they want.”

The survey was reliable within plus or minus three percent, with a 95 percent confidence level.

—Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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