The 2023 Brandon Langhjelm Memorial Essay Contest

Advancing student scholarship in Canada

Meet the winners of the 2023 essay contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Brandon Langhjelm Memorial Essay Contest! Thank you to every student who contributed to scholarship on freedom of expression.

The 2024 Brandon Langhjelm Memorial Essay Contest will be announced on April 15, 2024.

First: Anita Pan

"The Open Society: Why the Online News Act violates Canadian freedom of expression"

Anita Pan is an avid debater in Grade 11 at York House School. She plans to study English literature at university, though she also enjoys learning about history, politics, philosophy, law, and film. In her free time, she’s busy reading Hemingway and Steinbeck, writing short stories, jamming to Pink Floyd, and exploring old movies, her favourite being Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. She hopes to eventually become a novelist or an editor at a magazine.

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Second: Alexandra Robbins

"Bill C-11 and the consumption of online information: A sinister encroachment into Canadians’ freedom of expression"

Alexandra Robbins is a third-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology & Sociolegal Studies and Ethics, Society, & Law from the University of Toronto. Her primary areas of legal interest are constitutional law and administrative law. After graduation, she will be completing her articles at Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP. In her spare time, you can find Alexandra practising her French or cooking up a storm.

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Third: Tristan Kelm

"The importance of peaceful assembly to democratic health"

Tristan Kelm was born and raised in Edmonton where he studies psychology and economics at the University of Alberta. He works as a Primary Care Paramedic in Edmonton and also serves as a church youth leader. For fun, he enjoys being in the mountains, hunting and going on trips to see new places. After he graduates, he plans on exploring either policing or fire fighting to be able to serve his community in new ways!

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The 2023 Essay Contest Questions

Option 1: Free speech and the internet

Canadian governments are implementing policies and laws that limit freedom of expression online. Focus on one case (or related cases) of governments limiting freedom of expression online. Are these limitations reasonable? If they are unreasonable, why?

Option 2: Protests, free speech, and democracy

Protests are considered to be a kind of expression or a way of expressing oneself. Sometimes, governments place limitations on the ability of Canadians to express themselves through protesting. Focus on one case (or related cases) of governments limiting the ability of Canadians to protest. Were these limitations reasonable? If they were unreasonable, why? Further, why is the ability to protest an important feature of a healthy democracy?

About Brandon Langhjelm

In November 2021, the Justice Centre announced the Brandon Langhjelm Memorial Essay Contest, in tribute to lawyer Brandon, who passed away on October 25, 2021. Despite being born with a significant disability, a connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Brandon graduated with a B.A. in History and later went on to obtain his law degree. He began working for the Justice Centre in 2018 and won his most significant court case in 2020, where he challenged the decision of the City of New Westminster to cancel an ethnic church’s youth conference because the City did not like one of the speakers. Brandon was making court appearances on behalf of the Justice Centre until September 2021, when he was hospitalized and diagnosed with stage four cancer. Brandon faced life’s greatest challenge—just like he had faced and overcome other lesser challenges in his life—with courage, conviction and trust in God.