Friday, September 04, 2009

Canadian Officials Back Off Hate Speech Regs

Hope that freedoms of religion and speech in Canada may backtrack from very bad, to just bad

A provision in the Human Rights Act that bans hate speech on the internet is unconstitutional, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

-- From "Internet hate-speech law unconstitutional" Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/3/09

In a decision released Wednesday, the commission's tribunal dismissed a complaint filed against Marc Lemire, a webmaster who runs, a site that bills itself as "Canada's freedom resource center."

The complaint, which alleged that messages posted on the site were discriminatory and exposed minority groups to "hatred and contempt," was filed by Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman.

In rejecting the complaint, commissioner vice-chair Athanasios Hadjis ruled that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom, "which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Let the courts judge hate crime" Editorial, Toronto Star 9/4/09

The Canadian Criminal Code is tough on hate-mongers, and rightly so. It provides for up to two years in jail for wilfully promoting hatred against identifiable groups. That's a major deterrent to racists, homophobes and other purveyors of hate in the media or anywhere else.

Given this safeguard, it's hard to see why the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) should also be empowered to impose fines of up to $10,000 and award damages of up to $20,000 for much the same offence, under a controversial section of the human rights act that prohibits telecommunicating "any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt."

In a bombshell ruling this week, Athanasios Hadjis flatly challenged Section 13's constitutionality. He found that a Canadian with neo-Nazi ties ran afoul of the rights act by posting an anti-gay message on his website. But Hadjis also found Section 13 to be unlawful because it is more than a "minimal" infringement on freedom of expression.

This ruling strengthens the case for Parliament to get the CHRC out of the business of policing hate speech by repealing Section 13 and leaving the problem of hate speech to the criminal courts.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.