Dr. Dawg

Conservatives set to legalize hate speech

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Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has signalled the government’s intentions to support a private member’s bill from backbench Alberta MP Brian Storseth that will repeal Sn. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

That section presently reads:

Hate messages

(1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.


(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.


(3) For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter.

This section has long been the bane of neo-Nazis and other racists, homophobes and Islamophobes. They’ll be swilling suds in the old Bierkeller tonight.

The person indicated in the photo, above? That would be Paul Fromm—a veteran campaigner against Section 13. (Slightly munged link here: http://www.stormfronty.org/forum/t718045/)

Meanwhile, the government is about to show its concern for the principle of free speech grosso modo by outlawing any words or representations that “glorify terrorism.” As someone recently defamed in public as “one of Canada’s more vocal Taliban supporters,” supposedly for defending Omar Khadr’s human and legal rights, I might be forgiven for being a little sensitive on this matter.

Jonathan Kay is admirably consistent, and sounds the alarm.

Nicholson is promising amendments, plural, to current anti-hate legislation:

“We believe the Criminal Code is the best vehicle to prosecute these crimes, therefore I urge all members to support [Mr. Storseth’s bill] and our government’s forthcoming amendments to strengthen the hate provisions of the Criminal Code.”

But accessing the criminal law is fraught with difficulty for the ordinary person on the street, and in this case even more so: the current provision of the legislation (319.2) can only be implemented with the consent of a provincial attorney general. By contrast, a victim of hatred under the CHRA need simply submit a complaint to get the process started.

Unless it is made much more accessible, the law will remain a dead letter for most victims of hatred. Is that Nicholson’s intention?

[H/t, h/t]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 19, 2011 9:45 AM.

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