PEN Survey Results

By | May 30, 2013 at 10:23 am | No comments | News | Tags: , ,

Writers in Canada highly concerned about freedom of expression issues

Earlier this year, over 600 writers across Canada participated in PEN Canada’s first-ever national survey. We were looking to find out which freedom of expression issues concerned Canadian writers, and we found out plenty. The full report will be available soon, but here are some of the highlights:

1. The majority of Canadian writers are highly concerned about freedom of expression at home, and even more concerned about these issues in other countries.
When asked how concerned they were about freedom of expression and censorship in Canada, almost 60% of respondents reported that they were very or extremely concerned. Respondents were even more concerned about related issues abroad, with over 80% of respondents reporting that they were very or extremely concerned about freedom of expression and censorship in other countries.

2. Canadian writers value defending freedom of expression in Canada on par with helping imprisoned writers abroad.
Over 87% of respondents reported that they very much or highly value defending freedom of expression in Canada, only slightly fewer than the 89% of respondents who very much or highly value helping writers imprisoned abroad.

3. Canadian writers are highly concerned about the silencing of Canadian government scientists, and right to information and access to information laws in Canada.
When presented with a number of issues in Canada and abroad, 80% of respondents reported they were very or extremely concerned about the silencing of Canadian scientists and 77% were very or extremely concerned about right to information and access to information laws in Canada. Other Canadian issues included, with the corresponding percentage of respondents who were very or extremely concerned, were: the changing nature of freedom of expression and censorship in the digital world (67%), threats to Canadian charitable organizations by the Canada Revenue Agency for partisan political activity (64%), and changing laws related to libel and Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation in Canada (50%).

4. Canadian writers are highly concerned about freedom of expression in Iran, Mexico, and China.
When presented with a number of issues in Canada and abroad, 63% of respondents indicated that they were very or extremely concerned about imprisoned writers in Iran, 60% were very or extremely concerned about impunity for violence against journalists in Mexico, and 59% were very or extremely concerned about freedom of expression in China. Other international issues included, with the corresponding percentage of respondents who were very or extremely concerned, were: Imprisonment of journalists in Eritrea (35%), and increasing government threats to writers in Turkey (34%).

About the survey
The PEN Canada national survey of writers was conducted on SurveyMonkey in February/March 2013. Over 600 Canadian writers responded to the survey, which was distributed through writers’ guilds and associations across Canada, including through the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada.

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