TZTA Believes in DiversityPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
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For close to two decades, TZTA newspaper has provided a valuable contribution to the large Ethiopian Canadian population in the Toronto area and far beyond. We have given spaces for views that are as diverse as the population that we aim to represent. We have done all these by providing an entirely free paper to our esteemed readers on a regular basis. In the pages of TZTA – we have given spaces to competing views as well as reflect the best of the Ethiopian Canadian experience. Often times, we have been provided with complements for our efforts and seldom times, we have been criticized for our work. Through it all – what is integral is the well being of our population. That is what journalism is all about and that might be why TZTA has lasted all these years.
Canada’s unique Charter of Rights and Freedom under Section 2(b) states that “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” The section potentially could cover a wide range of action, from commercial expression to political expression; from journalistic privilege to hate speech to pornography. The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court has largely been an attempt to carve out: first, the purpose of s. 2(b) (what values does it seek to protect, who should be entitled to its protection); and second, the scope of s. 2(b).
Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. Freedom of expression promotes certain societal values, as noted by Professor Emerson in 1963: “Maintenance of a system of free expression is necessary (1) as assuring individual self-fulfillment, (2) as a means of attaining the truth, (3) as a method of securing participation by the members of the society in social, including political, decision-making, and (4) as maintaining the balance between stability and change in society.”
Our constitutional commitment to free speech is predicated on the belief that a free society cannot function with coercive legal censorship in the hands of persons supporting one ideology who are motivated to use the power of the censor to suppress opposing viewpoints.
The Canadian approach to freedom of expression allows for a wide conception of “expression” within s. 2(b). The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that a wide and inclusive approach to the interpretation of the Charter’s free expression guarantee is to be preferred”.
Earlier this month, TZTA was forwarded a very intimidating letter by Bishu Mamo of the – Kinijit Ethiopian Cultural and Relief Organization in Toronto. In his letter, he denounced the “outrageously false, abusive, inflammatory, defamatory and divisive articles” that we have published in TZTA. He continued – “without waiving any legal rights under the criminal and civil laws which we would vigorously pursue, we now ask you to refrain from such practice”. He never gave example of the articles he seems to have a problem with. The letter was forwarded to the Canadian government and the journalism associations we are a member of. The fact is – the intention is not to criticize our work but to hurt the mission and public service of TZTA. We find this intimidating tactic disturbing and wrong at best.
The fact is that – the tradition of our work is that we will continue to aim to give a diversity of opinions an equal space and refuse to follow a narrow road of self promotion and be selective to issues we might either agree or disagree with. This is our commitment to journalism as well as public service on behalf of the thousands of Canadians who trace
their roots to Ethiopia and our non Ethiopian friends.
The fact is that – the letter came from a group that has a lofty name but does not even have a Canadian charity number to begin with. The name also disturbs us since we also believe in the separation of politics and charity. We find their tactic wrong and as a community voice – we will choose to celebrate the voices of Ethiopians in Toronto. It’s a pity that a certain individual has decided to invest his time and energy to try to mute voices that TZTA is here to celebrate.
We are a community voice but NEVER an interest or a lobby group of a certain ideology.
See a copy of the letter below: