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Monday, February 09, 2009

Justice committee to debate merits of section 13.1 of the Human Rights Act

Conservative MP Brian Storseth wants a review of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as the role of the commission itself.

According to the Globe and Mail:

He told the committee last week that "concerns have been raised regarding the investigative techniques of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the interpretation and application of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act."[...]

The issue of whether the commission should be permitted to investigate alleged incidents of hate speech has prompted passionate responses from those on both sides of the debate.

The federal Conservatives voted at a party convention in November to support an end to Section 13, which deals specifically with hate messages spread by telephone or the Internet. It was a decision that was roundly applauded by conservative bloggers.

In a high-profile report on the matter released in November, University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon urged the commission to get out of the business of trying to censor hate speech.

Prof. Moon argued that freedom of expression trumps overbroad minority-rights laws and that any policing of hate messages should be handled under the Criminal Code, which prohibits willfully inciting hatred.

Jennifer Lynch, the chief human-rights commissioner, has promised to consult with the public regarding possible changes to the act and report to Parliament this year.

The question on everyone's mind is, of course, whether or not Jennifer Lynch will have time in-between her flights abroad to do all that consulting. Perhaps she can consult Canadians who also happen to be vacationing in Vienna.

Separately, you can catch the discussion here from 3:30 until 5:30 Eastern Time.

h/t: SDA

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on February 9, 2009 in Freedom of expression | Permalink


The whole HR house has burned down and they are going to debate the merits of section 13. Sorry but it is just a waste of time and money and an excuse for lack of action.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-09 12:47:32 PM

Either reduce these travestuous drumheads back to their proper place of adjudicating housing and employment disputes, or band them altogether. They have clearly ventured outside their area of expertise and done irreparable harm to the councils as well as made a laughingstock of the notion of human rights.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 12:58:56 PM

Sorry, that should say "ban."

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-09 12:59:12 PM

Is this going to be late? I'm hearing discussions of the "Youth Criminal Justice Act" at the moment.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-02-09 1:53:52 PM

Free speech is either FREE or it is not. This country needs to be saved from politicians. It was politicians who created these so-called Human Rights Commissars at the behest of a powerful special interest group. The rest of Canadians "human rights" and freedoms don't seem to be listened to.

An Award for Upholding Human Rights in Canada
By Stephen J. Gray

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper today became the first Canadian to receive the B’nai Brith International President’s Gold Medallion, in recognition of the Government’s efforts to fight discrimination and uphold human rights in Canada and around the world” (PMO-CPM Release June 27, 2008: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=2173)

I must say that this award sounds very good until one thinks about the words regarding upholding “human rights in Canada.” P. M. Harper’s government is an intervenor, along with B'nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, against free speech in Canada. Here is more information on that:

“The Attorney General of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and B'nai Brith Canada will be intervening in the Lemire case in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech” (Canadian Constitution Foundation letter, April 28, 2008).

The words “reasonable restriction on freedom of speech” have become a weapon to punish decent, law-abiding Canadians for daring to have an opinion in a so-called “free society.”

Decent Canadians who have been harassed, vilified, tormented and denounced by these unelected and appointed so-called “Human Rights Commissions” (HRCs) are as follows: Chris Kempling, Scott Brockie, Knights of Columbus, Stephen Boissoin, Bishop Henry, Ezra Levant, and others. Now Catholic Insight magazine, the Christian Heritage Party and MacLean’s magazine are under the guns of the HRCs. And the government of “Gold Medallion” award-winning Mr. Harper as well as B'nai Brith Canada are “…in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) in its letter of April 28, 2008, had this to say about its own potential intervenor status in Lemire: “By intervening in support of the application put forward by Marc Lemire, the CCF would not be endorsing the content of his message, but supporting the rights of all Canadians to say and write whatever they believe, without fear of violating a law such as Section 13, of the Canadian Human Rights Act.” Amen to that!

As Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Unfortunately Voltaire’s words do not apply to Canada. Voicing an opinion or writing letters to a newspaper, cracking jokes or printing cartoons can get a person dragged before the Human Rights Commissars of Canada. Their accusers get a free ride and the accused have to pay for lawyers for their own defense. Does this not sound like a dictatorship?

Meanwhile P.M. Harper is quoted as saying this: “What took place Friday in Zimbabwe’s run-off election was ‘an ugly perversion of democracy,’ Harper said” (CBC News, June 27, 2008).

Well said, Mr. Harper; but, unfortunately we have an “an ugly perversion of democracy,” here in Canada, and you and your government are siding with the undemocratic human rights commissars. Still, at least you are getting an award for upholding “human rights in Canada.” But, I believe, some thinking people in Canada will believe this award rings hollow when your government and B'nai Brith Canada are “…in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech.”

Stephen J. Gray
June 28, 2008
[email protected]
website: http://www.geocities.com/graysinfo

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2009-02-09 2:04:45 PM

Justice Committee?
I know we have all kinds of committees in Canada,
(in fact about 20 times too many) but I'd be bloody surprised to find one that knows "anything" about justice.

Posted by: JC | 2009-02-09 4:03:45 PM

I believe the politicians are playing games, pretending to care about free speech. If they had any courage they would abolish these human rights commissars. But hey, it was politicians who created these dictatorial monsters, who are persecuting decent Canadians.

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2009-02-09 8:20:49 PM

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