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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: A Question of Rights

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies, Political Science
Grades: Grades 11-12
Duration: 1 to 2 lessons
Purpose: To apply the ideas of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to issues of advertising and freedom of speech
Summary: Students will develop and defend a position on whether the government has the right to limit the advertising of a legal product.

Before Exploring

Introduce the class to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which you can find online. Focus on section 2b, which refers to freedoms related to communication. Ask: Should there be any limits on a person's right to free speech? In what situations?

Outline the Opportunity

Place students into small groups of four to five and have them view the clips 'On the way to a smoke-free Canada' and 'Court victory for Big Tobacco' on the topic Butting Out: The Slow Death of Smoking in Canada on the CBC Digital Archives website. Assign each group one of two positions, pro or con, in reference to the rights of tobacco companies to advertise. Encourage them to use the arguments shown in the clips as well as the Charter. Ask each group to prepare a position statement that supports the position assigned.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their positions on the question with groups assigned the opposite position. Have them to try to convince each other of the validity of their position.


Students can participate in a formal horseshoe debate using the position statements they have created on the freedom of speech issue related to tobacco advertising. Evaluate the results according to the movement of students in the horseshoe.