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Free speech has limits, Canada PM Trudeau says on ‘French’ Charlie Hebdo provocation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended free speech on Friday but added that it was “not without limits” and should not “arbitrarily and needlessly hurt” certain communities.

“We will always defend freedom of expression,” Trudeau said in response to a question about the right to show a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, as France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine did.

“But freedom of expression is not without limits,” he added. “We owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet.”

“We do not have the right for example to shout fire in a movie theater crowded with people, there are always limits,” he argued.

Distancing himself from the position of French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau pleaded for a careful use of free speech.

“In a pluralist, diverse and respectful society like ours, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the impact of our words, of our actions on others, particularly these communities and populations who still experience a great deal of discrimination,” he said.

At the same time, he said society is ready for a public debate on these issues, “to have these complex conversations in a responsible way.”

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