Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Canada’s human rights hate speech law is ruled unconstitutional

In an astonishing decision this morning, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Section 13, Canada's human rights hate speech law, is an unconstitutional violation of the Charter right to free expression because of its penalty provisions.

This decision by Tribunal chair Athanasios Hadjis, in effect, strips the Canadian Human Rights Commission of its legal mandate to pursue hate on the Internet, which it has strenuously defended despite accusations that this activity amounts to censorship. Mr. Hadjis found that that the pursuit of Section 13(1) cases "can no longer be considered exclusively remedial, preventative and conciliatory in nature the law" and the section has “become more penal in nature."

It is now up to the government and Canadian Human Rights Commission, which can appeal the ruling to Federal Court, to take the next step.  My hope is that the government will move to repeal Section 13 entirely and leave the prosecution of hate crimes in the criminal system where it belongs.

Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act is an anti-hate law that was conceived in the 1960s to target racist telephone hotlines and then expanded in 2001 to include the entire Internet. For the last decade, one man, Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, has been its almost exclusive complainant. [Click here for more information on Section 13 and its history]

sd1 This month, The Voice of the Martyrs is featuring Ezra Levin’s bestselling book, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights.  Shakedown is a shocking and controversial look at the threat that radicalized human rights commissions pose to Canadian values, by one of the country's most plain-spoken political activists and is a convincing, passionate plea to Canadians to reclaim their basic liberties. Click here to order your copy for only $17.


Real estate in GTA said...

I think freedom of speech and hate speech are very much interconnected. Many times it just depends on how individuals interpret something. Some can say it is freedom, and some can say it is hate. I support non-hate AND freedom, these two are however not always compatible, are they?


Glenn Penner said...

The problem with hate speech laws is that they tend to punish hurt feelings or even the potential of such hurt feelings or offense. This is where it becomes silly, impossible to enforce and inconsistent in its application (which is why it is bad law). If it punishes incitement to violence, that is one thing. But we have no right to be protected from being offended or having our feelings hurt