Dr. Dawg

Hate speech laws: a dead letter?

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Five months ago the loudest mouth on SubTV issued a hate-soaked eight-minute rant against the Roma people that would have had Julius Streicher gasping in admiration. I had a few choice words to say at the time, and I was not alone.*

Even SubTV was embarrassed (or afraid) enough to publish an on-air apology.

On October 2, the Roma community in Toronto filed a complaint with the Toronto police, including a fifteen-page legal brief, alleging a breach of Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Here’s the relevant sub-section:

319.(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Five months. And not a peep out of the police or the Crown Attorney’s office. Is is Ezra’s powerful Conservative connections?** Or are the powers that be afraid of what this hate-monger might bray on-air about them if they lift a legal finger? Or do they simply believe with him that Roma, unlike some other minority groups, are fair game for any vile racist who happens along?

The favourite argument of those who demanded an end to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and its provincial equivalents is that human rights tribunals aren’t “real courts.” But do “real courts” ever get to decide these questions? It would seem not.

* Bernie Farber gave me attribution for the blockquote, but the National Post editors, for reasons best known to themselves, deleted it.

** “While he was a student-at-law, Levant was an active political organizer in the Reform Party, and guided the successful attempts by Rahim Jaffer (as the campaign manager for his nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona and later as his communications-director during the 1997 Federal Election) and Rob Anders to win party nominations. In 1997, he went to Ottawa to work for the Reform Party, becoming a parliamentary aide to party leader Preston Manning and being put in charge of Question Period strategy. Along with newly-elected MP’s Rob Anders, Jason Kenney and Rahim Jaffer, Levant was part of an up and coming group of young Reformers which pundits dubbed the ‘Snack Pack’ due to their relative youth.”

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on February 14, 2013 5:36 PM.

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