First Freedoms

A not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing freedom for all Canadians through public advocacy and litigation

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Freedom Marches On – Interview With James Topp

Freedom Marches On – Interview With James Topp

Barry caught up with former livestream guest, veteran James Topp. Having completed his march from Vancouver to Ottawa, James explains what motivated his trek across Canada, what he learned, and what his vision for the future is. The purpose of James' march was to...

Time for an Awakening

Time for an Awakening

In this profound discussion, Dr. Joshua Mitchell, professor of political theory at Georgetown University, explores themes from his latest book, American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time (2020). Referencing the wisdom of Alexis de...

First Freedoms

Justice Ivan Rand, in a 1953 Supreme Court of Canada case involving religious freedom in Quebec, described “freedom of speech, religion and the inviolability of the person” as “original freedoms which are at once the necessary attributes and modes of self-expression of human beings and the primary conditions of their community life within a legal order.” We refer to these “original freedoms” as “first freedoms” (with the view that freedom of religion is a subset of freedom of conscience). 

Freedom First

These freedoms are inherent and inalienable. They exist prior to the state. They can be recognized (or violated) by governments but they are not created through legislation or constitutions.

They are foundational. Other rights build on these freedoms. A functioning liberal democracy depends on free speech, freedom of conscience and religion, and respect for the inviolability of the person.

Justice and civil peace rest on the equal dignity and freedom of every human being, regardless of status, ability, political affiliation, race, age, sexuality, or creed.

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Who we are

Meet our team and learn more about our principles and our vision for Canada

WHAT WE DO

We are taking action to help Canadians discuss and defend freedom. Discover upcoming events, publications and more

MEDIA RESOURCES

Stay informed with our videos, podcasts, blog posts, and editorials

LEGAL ADVOCACY

Stand with us as we take on litigation to safeguard our foundational freedoms

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The Foundation is dedicated to defending liberty in practice as well as theory.

Depending on the situation, we are prepared to offer resources and provide legal support to those in need.

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Featured Initiatives

Canadian Journal of First Freedoms: Call for Papers

Canadian Journal of First Freedoms: Call for Papers

In 1968, then-Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau opined that “A constitutional bill of rights in Canada would guarantee the fundamental freedoms of the individual from interference, whether federal or provincial. It would as well...

Utopian Danger: Freedom Feature with Dr. Ryan Alford

Utopian Danger: Freedom Feature with Dr. Ryan Alford

Dr. Ryan Alford, Professor at the Bora Laskin School of Law, Lakehead University, joins Dr. Bussey for a remarkable Freedom Feature discussion, recorded on February 23. Author of Seven Absolute Rights: Recovering the Historical Foundations of Canada's Rule of Law...

Freedom Feature: Interview on Bill C-4

Freedom Feature: Interview on Bill C-4

Why is Canada's new Conversion Therapy Bill so problematic? Listen as Barry discusses concerns around Bill C-4 with Dr. Don Hutchinson and Dr. Iain Provan. Bill C-4, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Conversion Therapy), went through the Parliament of Canada in...

Legal Cases:

Case Comment: Aga v. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (2021)

Case Comment: Aga v. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (2021)

The Supreme Court Got It Right in Extending The Wall Barry W. Bussey (note that an abbreviated version of this case comment was previously published by The Lawyer's Daily) In free and democratic societies, membership in a religious community is premised on freedom:...

Case Comment: Trinity Western University (2018)

Case Comment: Trinity Western University (2018)

Law Matters but Politics Matter More: The Supreme Court of Canada and Trinity Western University The following case comment was originally published in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 2018 7(3) Barry W. Bussey[1] The law on religious accommodation in Canada has...

Case Comment: Loyola High School (2015)

Case Comment: Loyola High School (2015)

The following is extracted from my chapter "Human Dignity Found in Religious Community," in The Inherence of Human Dignity Vol. 2: Law and Religious Liberty, edited by Barry W. Bussey and Angus J. L. Menuge (Anthem Press, 2021). In 2008 the province of Quebec...

Featured Upcoming Events:

Publications:

Time to Reassess the Canadian Judicial Council?

Time to Reassess the Canadian Judicial Council?

The following editorial, co-authored with lawyer Iain Benson, was previously published by Epoch Times. Commentary A complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council was recently filed concerning comments made by the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, chief justice of the...

Arbitration Awards Religious Exemption

The following editorial was previously published by The Lawyer's Daily. Religious or conscientious objectors to the COVID-19 vaccine have paid a high price for their principles over the last year in Canada. Many lost jobs (even when working from home) or were...

Justice Denied

The following editorial was previously published by The Lawyer's Daily, June 16, 2022. Philosopher Thomas Sowell once quipped, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats, procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”...

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Our Top Priorities

The original freedoms are inherent and inalienable. Other rights build on these freedoms. A peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy depends on free speech, freedom of conscience and religion, and respect for the inviolability of the person.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

“Freedom in thought and speech and disagreement in ideas and beliefs, on every conceivable subject, are of the essence of our life.” (Justice Rand)

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE

“An emphasis on individual conscience and individual judgment also lies at the heart of our democratic political tradition” (Justice Dickson)

Inviolability of the Person

“Freedom must surely be founded in respect for the inherent dignity and the inviolable rights of the human person” (Justice Dickson)

“Freedom of conscience is the cornerstone of our most cherished freedoms. Logically, this position leads to the bold assertion that meaningful manifestations of all other civil liberties would be jeopardized if freedom of conscience were diminished.

Indeed, to remove freedom of conscience is to deal a battering-ram blow to the liberal democratic ideals that support all human rights protections. “

- Barry W. Bussey

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