Acting for Freedom: Fifty Years of Civil Liberties in Canada

Acting for Freedom: Fifty Years of Civil Liberties in Canada


Written by Marian Botsford Fraser with Sukanya Pillay and Kent Roach. Foreword by Joseph Boyden.


50 years of frontline legal battles to protect the civil liberties we take for granted.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, CCLA, has been Canada’s leading national organization dedicated to the defense of rights and freedoms for the last fifty years. From life-and-death matters such as abortion and the death penalty, to free speech and censorship, to public security vs. the right to privacy, the CCLA is the watchdog for our fundamental freedoms.

CCLA’s battles often begin with an indignity against one person. Should a schoolgirl be forced to choose between wearing a political T-shirt or leaving the classroom? Why can’t a dark-skinned man find a place to stay in a city full of empty apartments? And just as often, CCLA tackles large-scale issues, such as the suspension of citizens’ rights during the October Crisis and how today’s technologies for mass surveillance can make everyone a suspect. 

For five decades the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has acted to protect the democratic rights of which Canadians are so proud. Despite the hard-won victories of the past, the work is not over. CCLA is confronting new threats to our freedoms every day. This book tells its extraordinary story.

“Civil rights don’t just apply at certain times or only to certain people but apply always and to all.” – from the Foreword by Joseph Boyden
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About the Author

Marian Botsford Fraser is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and critic whose work has appeared in Granta, The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, and others. She has authored three nonfiction books, including Walking the Line: Travels Along the Canadian/American Border. A long-time contributor to CBC Radio's "Ideas,” past president of PEN Canada, she now chairs the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International. She lives in Toronto.

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About the Contributor

Sukanya Pillay is General Counsel and Executive Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust.

About the Contributor

Kent Roach is a professor and the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and 2013 Trudeau Fellow.

About the Foreword

Joseph Boyden is the award-winning author of Three Day Road, Through Black Spruce, and The Orenda. In 2015 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for "his contributions as an author, who tells stories of our common heritage, and for his social engagement, notably in support of First Nations". 

Product Information

  • Release: October 13, 2014

  • $29.95 Paperback

  • 424 Pages

  • 6 x 9

  • Adult Nonfiction

  • ISBN: 9781927583494


  • Canadian History

  • Civil Rights

  • Heritage & Citizenship

  • Law & Justice

  • Social Activism


  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Lela Common Award for Canadian History - Canadian Authors Association Literary Awards