2022 Chernos Contest Details

How to Enter

01

Choose Your Question

Choose one of the four questions selected for the 2022 Chernos Contest.

02

Choose Your Format

Write a 750-1,000 word essay OR record a 3-4 minute video rant.

03

Create Your Entry

Write your essay! Record your video! Proof read! Fact check!

04

Submit!

Click the button below to submit your entry.

Click to Submit Your Entry

Deadline is May 27, 2022!

The Questions

Option One

Now that COVID-19 vaccination campaigns are well underway around the world, some jurisdictions are considering implementing a vaccine passport to access certain services and benefits within their own borders. Province X is requiring all provincial government employees (teachers, police, MPPs etc.) carry proof of their COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. What rights and freedoms are at issue? Do you think it’s fair that individuals be restricted from employment for not getting vaccinated, or not wanting to provide proof of their vaccination? Do you think collective responsibility, such as immunization during a pandemic, justifies such a measure? Do you believe there can be a fair use of vaccine certifications/passports, and if yes, what would it be?

Option Two

Provincial Law Societies are responsible for ensuring that lawyers in the province meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct. In order to practice law in Province Y, the  Law Society requires that applicants disclose details and documentation about a wide array of personal and private information, including workplace complaints, school discipline allegations, and police charges, including when those complaints, allegations or charges were already withdrawn, there was no proper hearing, and regardless of the relevance or what outcome they led to such as an acquittal. The Law Society claims the purpose of this disclosure is to build public trust in the legal profession by ensuring that practicing lawyers are of “good character”.  A group of Black and Indigenous law students raise concerns about over-policing and over-surveillance of racialized individuals. Given that Lawyers occupy a position of trust and authority in society, do you think these “good character” requirements are fair and reasonable? Why or why not? What rights and freedoms are at issue?

Option Three

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a provincial government has continued to tighten public health restrictions – including limits on the size of groups that can gather publicly indoors, mask requirements and proof of vaccination policies in some venues. People who disagree with these policies have started to engage in public protests outside of healthcare facilities, including hospitals. The protests are loud and at times aggressive, but protesters do not block access to hospital driveways or doors and do not approach individuals who are going into or coming out of the hospital. The government has passed a law that prohibits protests within 500 meters of a hospital, arguing that this is necessary to ensure the public has safe access to healthcare and protect hospital staff from harassment. Does this law restrict the protesters’ freedom of expression and peaceful assembly? If so, is the restriction a reasonable one? Do hospital workers have a right to go to work without having to see and hear these kinds of protests? If you think the law is unfair, is there a way to improve it?

What You Need to Know

Requirements

  • Essay: 750 – 1000 words (double-spaced, size 12 font, in either Word or PDF format)
  • Video rant: 3-4 minute Youtube Video + your script (double-spaced, size 12 font, in either Word or PDF format)
  • You must be in Grades 9-12 in the Canadian school system. Home school entries are welcomed.
  • Video entries must be uploaded to Youtube as “Unlisted” so only the people you share the link with can see your entry.
  • If you place in the contest, we will ask you (if you are 18 years or above) or your parents/caregivers to sign media release before we send your prize.
  • DON’T be late! Just like when filing court documents, the deadline is our cut-off.
  • Do NOT include your name, school, grade or course in/on your entry itself. We collect this information in the entry form. Our judges mark the entries without knowing who you are, or what grade or school you are from.
  • DO cite your sources! Citations are required whenever you include direct quotes or statistics, or you paraphrase or adopt someone else’s idea. The last page of your essay or rant script should be a citations list (not NOT included in your word count). Get more info on citing here.

Basic Elements

All entries should cover at least these basic elements:

Introduction
  • What is the question you are addressing?
  • What is at stake and why should people care about this issue?
  • What rights and freedoms are at play here?
  • State your thesis, where do you stand on the issue?
  • Consider introducing some strong counter-arguments so you can refute them later.
  • Consider adding a rhetorical device.
Body
  • Now convince us to agree with you by explaining your position and giving us your supporting arguments.
  • Remember, when rights and freedoms conflict, there are many positions one can take. Different stakeholders may be affected by the issues differently so show us you have thought about the problem from multiple perspectives.
  • Address any counter-arguments you raised in your introduction, and provide arguments to refute them. This will help convince us that you have carefully considered and ultimately resolved possible weaknesses in your position.
  • Where possible, support your arguments with evidence from secondary sources (make sure you cite them!).
Conclusion
  • Sum it all up and reinforce your thesis by re-stating the position you are advocating for.
  • Briefly paraphrase your main points but don’t re-state them in full.
  • Consider closing with your own ideas about possible compromises to bring the opposing sides closer together and resolve these issues. Or offer some food for thought with a pithy statement reminding us about the importance of these issues.
  • Research and apply the law! Our The Fundamentals of our Fundamental Freedoms is an excellent primer on conflicts of rights and freedoms. Our Acorn Test, a simplified version of the Supreme Court’s Oakes Test, you help you assess the reasonability of limits to Charter rights or freedoms.
  • Ask a teacher or another supporter to review your entry, check for errors, and provide feedback.

Video Tips

  • Watch a Rick Mercer rant here (yes its old, but still a masterclass in rants)
  • Stick to the 3 to 4 minute time limit. This roughly translates to a 500-700 word script.
  • DO protect your privacy. DON’T film in locations that make it easy to identify you, your home address, your school, or any other personal information.
  • You will need access to a Youtube channel to enter. Make sure you upload your video as “unlisted” NOT “private” or “public”.
  • Be concise! You will not be engaging if you simply write an essay and read it on camera. Include all the necessary content, but make your point in as few words as possible.
  • Use a cell phone, a laptop/tablet, or digital camera, etc. If you are ranting on the move, get a friend to record you.
  • Get your volume, pacing, tone, and style right. We need to hear and understand you.
  • Add animation, music, or other effects if they add to your rant.
  • Use appropriate but engaging language.

Marking Rubric

  • Refer to this marking rubric as you create your submissions so that you know exactly what the judges will be looking for when they evaluate your entries.