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UBC Okanagan Debates: Free speech is dead

24 October 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Is free speech dead or more alive than ever?

For some, secretive social media algorithms have choked off free speech and confined it within echo chambers. Mainstream media owners tightly control whose voices get heard to maintain their grip on profits and influence. They are the signposts of compromised equity, a distortion of democracy, and opinion bubbles breeding extremism.

For others, the digital age is supercharging free speech, granting anyone with an internet connection the power to express and influence regardless of their language or geography. It invites voices previously diminished by noisy, westernized powers into global conversations, democratizes participation, and exposes us to an unprecedented diversity of thoughts and ideas.

Where do you stand? Join us for a spirited debate that promises to challenge assumptions, provoke thought, and potentially reshape your understanding of the future of free speech.

Tickets: $15 general admission; $10 UBC alumni; $5 students
(GST not included)


A portrait photo of Lesley Cormac.




Lesley Cormack is Principal and Deputy-Vice Chancellor at UBC Okanagan whose research focus is the mathematics and geography of 16th-century England.

UBC Okanagan Debates is a signature event hosted by UBCO’s Principal and Deputy-Vice Chancellor. This event is designed to model civil discourse in a polarized world by bringing together renowned experts to discuss disputed and timely topics.



Portrait photo of Greg Garrard.
Greg GarrardCreative & Critical Studies,
Free speech is dead
Greg Garrard, a professor of environmental humanities at UBCO, has taught many environmental courses that include the scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change. Co-writing a book, Climate Change Scepticism: A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis, that set out to understand why sceptics reject the consensus gave him a stronger appreciation of the nuances of free speech.
Portrait photo of Margot Young.
Margot YoungAllard School of Law,
Free speech is not dead
Young is a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law. Professor Young researches constitutional rights, social and economic justice, with specific focus on feminist analysis of equality and urban issues. She is Director of the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies, Chair of the Board of the Suzuki Foundation, and an International Visiting Scholar at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Portrait photo of Joel Bakan.
Joel BakanAllard School of Law,
Free speech is dead

Joel Bakan, a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law, is a renowned expert in constitutional law. A former Rhodes Scholar, he’s co-directed acclaimed films like The New Corporation, based on his award-winning books. Currently challenging X (Twitter) over censorship issues, Bakan emphasizes concerns over dwindling free speech in private domains and its broader implications for democracy.
Portrait photo of Sue Gardner.
Sue GardnerWikimedia Foundation,
Free speech is not dead
Sue Gardner builds organizations that give people access to the information they want and need. Her main areas of interest are technology, media, gender and freedom. She’s a special adviser to Wikimedia Foundation and from 2007 until 2014 was its Executive Director. Previously, Gardner was head of


24 October 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


UBC Okanagan
View Organizer Website


Kelowna Community Theatre
1375 Water St
Kelowna, BC V1Y 0B4 Canada
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