Mr. Speaker, today is World Press Freedom Day, reminding us of the profound importance of freedom of expression, itself consecrated in the fundamental freedoms section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the lifeblood of a democracy.
Indeed, as the Supreme Court of Canada has put it, “liberty in freedom of expression is little less vital to man than breathing is to his physical existence”, and “it is difficult to imagine a guaranteed right more important to a democratic society than freedom of expression.”
Accordingly, Canadian jurisprudence has articulated a three-pronged purposive rationale for freedom of expression, which freedom of the press seeks to promote and protect. First, that seeking and attaining truth is an inherently valuable exercise; second, that participation in social and political decision making is to be fostered and encouraged; and third, that diversity in terms of individual self-fulfillment and the capacity for human potential ought to be cultivated in a tolerant and welcoming environment.
I am sure my colleagues will join me in celebrating World Press Freedom Day in recognition of press freedom that sustains democratic debate and fundamental values in this country, and in the hope that press freedom will yet be acquired as a feature of democratic development in countries less fortunate than ours.