Free Speech: A Postmedia – Leger Poll

August 6, 2021

From July 23-25, 2021, on behalf of Postmedia, Leger conducted an online survey among Canadians to explore their perspectives on free speech, including:

  • How they rate their ability to speak freely on controversial topics in Canada;
  • If they feel speech is freer or more restricted than 5-10 years ago;
  • If they think it will be easier to speak freely about controversial topics 5-10 years from now;
  • Whether they feel social media has helped or hurt open debate;
  • If they think it would be better for Canada if political parties were more willing to debate controversial/taboo topics;
  • and more.


  • Canadians are divided on free speech today vs. 5 to 10 years ago. Nearly half feel speech is more restricted today, while 4-in-10 say it is freer.
  • Half of Canadians feel social media has hurt open debate. There is a generational divide, however, with half of 18-to-34-year-olds believing it has helped.
  • 68% of Canadians agree that in Canada, there are some topics that cannot be openly debated or challenged because doing so is viewed as being disrespectful and insensitive, and exposes the one who questions certain views to being publicly criticized.
  • Almost 8 out of 10 Canadians feel political parties are afraid to debate “important but controversial” issues because their positions may be taken out of context.
  • Nearly half of Canadians think the Government of Canada should have the power to determine and regulate hate speech.


  • 1,519 residents of Canada aged 18 or older were surveyed online using Leger’s online panel, LEO, from July 23-25, 2021.
  • Using data from the 2016 Census, the results were weighted according to age, gender, and region in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.
  • As a non-probability internet survey, a margin of error is technically not to be reported. If the data were collected through a random sample, the margin of error for a sample of n~1,500 would be ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.


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