Category Archives: SFSC

SFSC Event Nov 8: “Occupation of the [North] American Mind” Film screening

Presented by Seriously Free Speech and Independent Jewish Voices.

Narrated by Roger Waters, this compelling and important film examines how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and pro-Israel lobbying groups have waged a series of coordinated PR campaigns to manage political fallout from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and shape North American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Israel’s favor.

“A vital and unmissable film.” The Nation

Website and trailer:

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SFSC Event Oct 26: Roger Waters talks Palestine live on-stage at Vancouver forum

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SFSC Event April 5: Why is Canadian professor Hassan Diab still held in French jail? What can we do?

Dr. Hassan Diab, a sociology professor at the University of Ottawa, was arrested in 2008 in connection with the deadly bombing of a Paris synagogue that occurred in 1980. Throughout his long ordeal – imprisoned and under house arrest in Canada for 6 years, extradited to France in 2014, and now nearly 2 ½ years in a French prison without being charged – Diab has maintained his innocence.

The Canadian judge who extradited Diab described the French case as “weak” and concluded that a conviction was unlikely if tried in a Canadian court. However, France’s new anti-terrorism laws permit courts to rely on secret “intelligence,” that has never been disclosed to Mr. Diab and could be potentially derived from torture. Human rights and civil liberties groups–including the BCCLA–opposed the extradition.

Don Bayne, a leading criminal defence lawyer who fought the six-year extradition battle pro bono, called Diab “Canada’s Alfred Dreyfus.” Diab, a Lebanon-born Muslim, is a victim of mistaken identity, sacrificed to make France look tough on terrorism. Dreyfus was a French Jew wrongly accused a century ago – a time when anti-Semitisim was strong as Islamophobia is today.

The support committee calls on the Liberal government to intervene with French authorities. “We have the gravest concern that this case represents a profound miscarriage of justice and the time to act is long overdue. One way to oppose Islamophobia is to support Justice for Hassan Diab.”
Facebook: friendsofhassandiab Twitter: @friendsofhdiab

Sponsored by BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Hassan Diab Support Committee (Vancouver). Endorsed by Critical Muslim Voices, Independent Jewish Voices, Canadian Association of University Teachers and Seriously Free Speech Committee. Free speech advocate and long-time Vancouver library employee Brian Campbell dies

by Charlie Smith @

A pioneering activist and former Vancouver Public Library staff member has died.

Brian Campbell passed away shortly after Christmas from lung cancer after spending his adult life trying to improve the lives of average people around the world.

When he retired in 2006 as the Vancouver Public Library’s director of systems and special projects, Campbell had distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for freedom of information and expanding Internet access. He also advocated for the VPL engaging in an evidence-based public education program about drug addiction.

In 2015, the Canadian Library Association awarded Campbell with its Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award. Continue reading

IJV: Remembering Brian Campbell

Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Vancouver’s activist community lost a valued friend in December, when Brian Campbell died of lung cancer. Brian was a man of rare depth, a fierce advocate for human rights, a committed socialist, a tireless organizer, and a tender and understanding friend. He was a dependable presence on picket lines and marches, his strong baritone chanting and singing above the crowd.

As Systems and Planning Director of the Vancouver Public Library, Brian made a lifetime career – inside libraries and out – of defending free speech and promoting free and equal access to information. That commitment earned him the Canadian Library Association’s award for Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada, in 2015. After retiring from the VPL, he focused his formidable energies and intellect on progressive causes, including the Boycott Israel Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) and the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC). Continue reading

SFSC – Brian Campbell lived to make the world a better place

It is with great sadness that we report that Brian Campbell, one of the founders of the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC), died from cancer on Dec. 27, 2016 at the age of 72.

Brian helped organize the SFSC in 2008 to defend three people being sued by CanWest for parodying the Vancouver Sun’s biased pro-Israel coverage. Nine years later, the group continues to defend individuals and organizations that are attacked for supporting Palestine, falsely accused of anti-semitism, and threatened with lawsuits and the loss of tenure, research grants, or even their jobs for criticizing Israel.

Throughout his 25-year career at the Vancouver Public Library, Brian defended free speech, promoted free and equal access to information, and was part of the original campaign to push the BC government to adopt a freedom of information law. In 2015, the Canadian Library Association named him recipient of their Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award. 

Brian spearheaded numerous SFSC campaigns, fighting the passage of Bill C-51, Canada’s draconian anti-terrorism law passed by the Harper government and urging its repeal by the Trudeau Liberals; organising against the threat free speech from federal and provincial resolutions condemning BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign calling on Israel to abide by international law) supporters; calling for the reinstatement of fired University of Illinois professor Steven Salaita for tweets expressing his anger over Israel’s brutal bombing of Gaza; and fighting efforts to criminalize opposition to Israel’s policies and actions, including the so-called Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, New York’s threat to cut off funding to public bodies that divest from Israel or France’s anti-BDS law that has put supporters in jail.

A long-time socialist, Brian was a major force in the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign and other movements, including Eco-Socialists and Stop Kinder-Morgan. Brian generously contributed time, money and hard work to the many progressive causes he supported.

Corporate SLAPP vs Free Speech

*NEW – Watch Video of Michael Vonn’s presentation from SLAPP vs Free Speech

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SFSC Letter: To the Moderator of the United Church of Canada

Jordan Cantwell (The Right Reverend), Moderator
United Church of Canada

Dear Rev. Cantwell

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee to commend you on the courageous letter you sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opposing the Conservative motion “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad”. Continue reading

SFSC Letter: Greatest Threat to Free Speech in the West

February 21, 2016
The Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minster Trudeau,

Re: Greatest Threat to Free Speech in the West: Criminalizing Activism Against Israeli Occupation (1)

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee to urge your government to oppose the Conservative motion “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad”. At the very least, this motion should be given a free vote as it is not a confidence motion and is a motion of deep moral concern.

Support for this motion betrays your government’s commitment to seek balance for Canadian policy in the Middle East and supports the “through fire and water, Canada will stand with [Israel]” one-sided policy of the previous Conservative government.

It is ironic that you are requesting Canadian citizens to engage in debate on government policy while at the same time condemning their right to debate BDS, and criticize Israel. You do not condemn the right of Canadians to criticise their own government’s policy or that of any other government except Israel. Why this exception? Continue reading

CBC: Liberals denounce and agree with Tory motion condemning Israel boycotters By Neil MacDonald

So, the Trudeau government intends to join with the Conservatives next week and condemn the United Church of Canada and the Quakers, along with every other organization and individual participating to any degree in a boycott of Israeli goods and services.

Blanket government condemnation is not a very sunny thing to do, and the Liberals, quivering with outrage, are making it clear they really don’t want to do it.

But they are going ahead because, apparently, they’re being bullied, the poor daisies.

It’s just not fair, the things you can be forced to do when you have a parliamentary majority.

There is no doubt, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion declared in the House of Commons Thursday, that most of the organizations and individuals supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement are doing so in good faith, believing it will somehow force an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and its control over Gaza, and maybe some sort of peace deal.

But BDS, said Dion, is not government policy. And “those people, of good faith, we will not convince them of their error by banging them on the head, by hitting them with condemnations of all types, by intimidation, or by invectives. We have to speak to them with respect.”

There is also, added the minister, the small matter of freedom of speech and debate. Continue reading