Threats to freedom of expression have emerged from a number of quarters in Canada in recent months. In May, wording was added to the Criminal Code of Canada making so-called hate speech against people of any sexual orientation a punishable offense – but not if it is religiously motivated. Other groups already protected against hate speech were color, race, and ethnic origin. The measure, designed to prevent public distribution of hate propaganda, makes it unlawful for any distribution of such propaganda in the press. Blogger Jon Newton was sued in May by the Australian owner of the KaZaA company for alleged defamation of his company on Newton’s Web site. Under Canadian law, the plaintiff does not have to prove that he suffered damages as a result of defamation, it being up to the defendant to prove that the communication is either not defamatory or that it is in the public interest to publish it. Another case involving alleged “cyberlibel” was that of Michael Pilling, Toronto-based founder of political discussion Web site, who was sued by a Green Party financier over an article about him posted on the site that he claimed was defamatory. In a case concerning access to information, on September 8 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that an appellant, Sheldon Blank, who had requested government documents relating to prosecutions of himself and a company for alleged federal regulatory offenses, had correctly been denied such documents by the government. Under Canada’s Access to Information Act, attorney-client privilege makes such denial lawful and the Supreme Court decided that in this case that the privilege remained in effect even after litigation had ended. In another access to information development, CanWest News Service reported that it was feared that some federal officials had been widely sharing among government departments the identities of reporters requesting official documents under the Access to Information Act – despite the fact that revealing their names is a violation of Canada’s Privacy Act, a shield designed in part to protect citizens from possible reprisals. The dismissal in February by the publisher of the editor, John Hoey, and senior deputy editor, Anne Marie Todkill, of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, apparently over the choice of editorial content, was seen by the free-press organization Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) as “a serious threat to editorial independence and the free expression rights of editors, staff and contributors.” The CJFE called on the Canadian Medical Association to make public the reasons for the dismissals and to “clarify its reasons for withholding, against the wishes of its editors, a story in December 2005 about guidelines followed by Canadian pharmacists in dispensing the emergency contraceptive Plan B.” The article, it said, had reportedly been “rewritten to make it more acceptable to pharmacists.” Another article, about Health Minister Tony Clement, had been withdrawn from publication, the CJFE added. A ban imposed on April 22 by the federal government on television coverage of the return of the remains of soldiers killed in Afghanistan was protested by Canadian and international freedom of expression advocates and opposition party members. The removal by the Toronto District School Board of a book about Israeli and Palestinian children from school libraries serving children below grade seven prompted a harsh response from the writers group formed to defend freedom of expression, PEN Canada. In the book,Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak, by award-winning author Deborah Ellis, Palestinian and Israeli children talk frankly about their lives in a war-torn land. It was removed after the Canadian Jewish Congress charged that it “serves only to demonize both sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by exposing students to “issues that are complex, neither fully explicated nor properly contextualized.” Protesting the book’s removal from school libraries and fearing the unless the action were reversed it would set “a dangerous precedent” PEN Canada said, “Often the very best literary work pokes light into dark places, and freedom of expression, inquiry and opinion is the cornerstone of our democratic society.”