Is Toronto Symphony Orchestra preventing freedom of speech?

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s decision to cancel performances by pianist Valentina Lisitsa has been publicly condemned by civil rights advocates who say her views are entirely unrelated to her employer.

Ukrainian-born Lisitsa regularly uses Twitter as a platform to voice her pro-Russian views on the civil-war currently raging in her home country but the TSO say many of her tweets cross the line into “intolerance.”

The orchestra’s president and CEO, Jeff Melanson said Lisitsa has been replaced due to "ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language.”

Canadian employers are well within their legal rights to discipline and even dismiss employees whose social media posts bring the business into bad repute.

“When there are public statements made or a public action is taken that clearly reflects poorly on the company or employer then employers do have the ability to exercise discipline,” employment lawyer Brian Wasyliv told HRM.

However, the move, which has sparked widespread controversy, has not gone down well with civil rights activists.


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