DOES FREEDOM OF SPEECH include the right not to listen? If we refuse to listen to someone, are we violating their right to be heard? And what if we want to speak, but don’t want certain people to hear?
The answer seems easy, but it might be different if you’re a politician and you decide to tune out your critics. The mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, is being sued for blocking certain people from his Twitter account. (Ottawa, by the way, has a civic election coming up on Monday, two days after our own. Watson has 11 opponents for the mayor’s job.)
The lawsuit alleges he is violating their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It has been launched by three critics from different walks of life blocked by Watson in September.
Watson says it’s his personal Twitter account and he has the right “not to be attacked and harassed by the same individuals on a regular basis.”
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former school board chair, former editor of The Kamloops Daily News, and a current director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s lifetime achievement award in 2011. His editorials are published Monday through Thursdays, and Saturdays on CFJC Today, CFJC Midday and CFJC Evening News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.