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2024 Chernos Contest Details

How to Enter


Choose Your Question

Choose one of the four questions provided for the 2024 Chernos Contest.


Choose Your Format

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


Create Your Entry

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



Click the button below to submit your entry.

Click to Submit Your Entry

Deadline is May 24, 2024!

The Questions

Option One

In response to complaints from the public of police brutality, the City of Calgary has made it mandatory for police officers to wear body cameras while on duty. An officer wearing the camera responded to a call at a private residence. Days later, residents of the home called the police service, concerned that their identity and personal information were recorded by the police in the privacy of their own home. Do you think that the police body-worn cameras should be running at all times? If so, why? If not, why not? Who should decide when the cameras should be turned on/off and under what circumstances? What rights, freedoms and other issues are at stake?

Option Two

A provincial government recently enacted the “20% Emissions Act (2023)” which repealed the “40% Carbon Emissions Act” of 2018.  The “40% Carbon Emissions Act” of 2018 had set out an emissions reduction target of 40% below 2005 CO2 levels by 2030.  By contrast, the “20% Emissions Act” of 2023 implemented a new, lower target of 20% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.  In response, a group comprised mainly of young environmental activists filed an application against the province, calling into question the constitutionality of the new “20% Emissions Act” of 2023 and arguing that it violated Charter rights by not taking climate change seriously enough.  What Charter rights would be at play in this scenario? How might the courts approach this type of lawsuit at present? How should Canadian courts approach the issue of climate change in the future, particularly with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Option Three

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) released a new policy guideline that outlines a procedure for border screening agents to demand social media passwords from travellers (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.). The goal of the policy is to enhance public safety. If a traveller refuses to provide their passwords, border agents can subject them to additional screening, detention, denial of entry (if they are a non-citizen), or criminal charges. Is the CBSA policy fair? Why or why not? What rights and freedoms are at issue?

Option Four

A young woman named Shirley has been using her TikTok account to call out an anti-abortion group called Life Begins Now.  In some videos – including one that went viral and garnered one million views – she suggested registering online for Life Begins Now protests, with no intention of attending.  A court then issued an order forbidding Shirley from engaging in this form of digital advocacy. The order prohibited anyone from reposting Shirley’s TikToks, registering for a Life Begins Now event without intending to attend, or encouraging others to engage in the same activities.  It does not appear that Shirley’s online tactics prevented genuine participants from registering or attending any of Life Begins Now’s anti-abortion protests.  Was the court’s decision fair? Why or why not? What Charter rights are at issue here? Which rights are in conflict?

What You Need to Know


  • 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 included in your word count).

Basic Elements

All entries should cover at least these basic elements:

  • 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.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
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