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Examining the Limits of Free Expression through Canadian Case Law: Reflections on the Canadian Library Association's Code of Ethics and its supporting Statement on Intellectual Freedom

Michelle Louise Atkin
Journal of Education for Library and Information Science
Vol. 53, No. 4 ((Fall) October 2012), pp. 239-253
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43686918
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Examining the Limits of Free Expression through Canadian Case Law: Reflections on the Canadian Library Association's Code of Ethics and its supporting Statement on Intellectual Freedom
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Abstract

Various library associations around the world have developed codes of ethics to help guide librarians in their conduct as information professionals. The structure of these codes and their enforceability have been the subject of much debate, particularly in the Canadian context. This paper will examine the Canadian Library Association's (CLA) Code of Ethics and its Statement on Intellectual Freedom as applied to the practice of librarianship and its efforts to protect and promote intellectual freedom in Canada. It will begin with a discussion of the right to intellectual freedom under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It will then look at the legal limitations to that right as demonstrated by Canadian case law. Specific attention will be paid to challenges to the legal limits of intellectual freedom in the areas of pornography, child pornography, obscenity, defamation, hate propaganda and the application of public morals on book selection for schools. Taking recent case law into account, the paper will then reflect back on the CLA's Code of Ethics and its Statement on Intellectual Freedom. It will discuss the legal limits of intellectual freedom and the potential impact that those limits have upon professional codes of ethics and statements of values. Finally the paper proposes amending the Statement on Intellectual Freedom so as to better reflect the constitutional guarantees afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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