2015 Dalton Camp Award winner says Canadian law should have a sense of humour

Apr 7, 2015


Toronto - University of British Columbia law student Spencer Keys has won the 2015 Dalton Camp Award, an essay contest on the link between the media and democracy sponsored by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

Keys argues in The Freedom to Jest: Protecting Our Democratic Right to Parody and Satire, that too often Canada's defamation law is abused by powerful interests to silence critics through strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP).   Keys suggests the law should be reformed to give humorists wide latitude because this is an important form of commentary in a democracy.  In short, he thinks Canadian law should have a sense of humour.

This is a growing concern, according to Keys, now that social media empowers many to create and share widely satirical or humorous content.

“Parody and satire are particularly effective in this space because they succeed in sharpening the public’s point of view of an issue with a short, pithy message. While we are aware of numerous cases of SLAPP suits going to trial on matters of defamation, there is no clear sense of how many cease-and-desist letters have been issued against citizens participating in political action, or how many lawsuits have been settled out of court. Are individuals without the resources to defend themselves being silenced out of public view?” Keys writes.

The Award comes with a $10,000 prize, as well as a bronze cast medal by Canadian sculptress Dora de Pédèry-Hunt.

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting announced The Dalton Camp Award in 2002 to honour the memory of the late Dalton Camp, a distinguished commentator on Canadian public affairs.  The Dalton Camp Award is available to one Canadian each year.


To access Spencer Keys’ winning essay or for more information about The Dalton Camp Award visit www.friends.ca/DCA

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Jim Thompson