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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Questions about proposed changes to Alberta’s human rights legislation: Does the shakedown continue?

The Western Standard reported today here that the Alberta government has tabled proposed changes to the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act. The changes would increase the power of the province's controversial human rights laws and add protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the scope of the legislation, along with parental rights over the education of children.

The Western Standard has several calls into Shawna Cass, a communications officer for Culture and Community Spirit, for clarification on key points of the proposed amendment to the Act.

For instance: 

If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not protected by the existing Act, on what basis was Alberta pastor Stephen Boisson prosecuted for expressing opposition to homosexuality?

Also, how will parental rights over the education of children be reconciled with the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected status under the Act should parents object to school curricula that includes homosexual material, for instance?

Since there is no mention of amending the Act to protect free speech and expression, must we conclude sadly that sections of the Act governing print publications have been left in place? Provisions of the Act that allowed for the human rights complaint against the Western Standard for a 2006 decision to publish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad are presumably still in place, despite Ezra Levant’s book Shakedown: How the Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights and the national uproar it has generated over eroding freedom of speech and expression in Canada.

Once we have the answers to these questions, Western Standard readers will be immediately updated.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 28, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

Ed Stupid strikes again.

And as for the Minister in charge of the AHRC, this is the guy that just botched the whole Mberta beach photo fiasco. So expect more of the same from these clowns.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-04-28 4:27:42 PM


Don't blame Lindsay Blackett. He has been a thoughtful and eloquent supporter of free speech.

This has Mr Ed written all over it. He did, after all, almost go to law school.

Willllbuuurr.

Posted by: BoomNoZoom | 2009-04-28 6:13:58 PM


It's not good (http://www.culture.alberta.ca/humanrights/IssuesChart_April28.pdf)

Issue: Section 3 on “publications” limits freedom of speech.

How the Issue is Being Addressed: Section 3 of Alberta’s human rights legislation already states that “nothing shall be deemed to interfere with the free expression of opinion on any subject.”
 Government found that removing “publications” from the Act could have serious consequences. Ultimately, Albertans need a balance between freedom of speech and responsibility.

Posted by: Freece Peacher | 2009-04-28 6:22:37 PM


We have now and have had a "balance of free speech and responsibility". Or have defamation and libel been struck from our laws?

Ask our premier. As I said, he's the one who almost went to law school.

Posted by: BoomNoZoom | 2009-04-28 6:27:46 PM


Matthew,

"If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not protected by the existing Act, on what basis was Alberta pastor Stephen Boisson prosecuted for expressing opposition to homosexuality?"

As of 1998, based on a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, sexual orientation was "read into" the Act as a ground of discrimination, so any ammendment to formally add it to the act will only codify that which has already been de facto the law of the land.


"Also, how will parental rights over the education of children be reconciled with the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected status under the Act should parents object to school curricula that includes homosexual material, for instance?"

The short answer is: Nobldy knows. As it is, the act alreay has protections that can come into conflict. If Catholics want to rent a hall to the general public for weddings, they are not allowed to refuse to rent to a gay couple based on their sexual orientation. But if the Catholic Church refuses to hire a minister because they know the candidate is gay, that is ok. Which right trumps depends on the situation. What would be decided in a case like you imaginbe is unknowable until a case actually comes forward.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-04-28 6:32:31 PM


Fact Check

I think we can safely extrapolate which right trumps the other based upon previous dispositions of the the Alberta and other Commissions.

Posted by: BoomNoZoom | 2009-04-28 6:36:58 PM


Another government completely out of touch with the population. There is no excuse for it.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-04-28 8:13:36 PM


I don't think Alberta's government is out of touch with it's population really. Alberta isn't libertarian in general, it's conservative or neoconservative. I know TONS of my fellow albertans who demand we fight gay marriage and say we shouldn't be allowing those terrorists to say whatever they want. They favor fiscal responsibility, legislating morality, social conservatism and believe that the government will watch out for the best interests of the people and that good people won't be harmed by strict laws. Only hateful terrorists, racists and bad people. Not beloved pastors and newspaper journalists.

Indeed Albertans are out of touch with history and the present reality, not the government with the people.

Posted by: Pete | 2009-04-28 9:41:01 PM


Eddy "the Red" Stelmach strikes again...another blow for socialism. The conservative party as we know it is gone forever and socialism comes with whoever you vote for. Its time we stopped playing this game. Stop voting for these low lives and start ignoring them.
Suppose they gave an election, and nobody came...

Posted by: JC | 2009-04-28 9:42:39 PM


The pig farmer should be removed from office ASAP.

All the real conservatives despise that incompetent fool.

http://www.wernerpatels.com/2009/04/alberta-tories-must-elect-a-new-leader-and-premier-before-2012.html

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2009-04-28 10:53:53 PM


It seems to me that this could be solved easily by having restricting the HRC to a prosecutorial role. All cases would have to be heard in Court of Queens Bench with the regular rules of that court applied. In other words, it would recognize the inherent conflict of interest and bias the HRC has in adjudicating cases it chooses to hear. Everyone is entitled by the Charter of Rights to equal treatment before the Law. The HRC consistently violates this principle by refusing to follow the rules of evidence and in disallowing an accused representation by counsel in all proceedings. It would also help if only competent judiciary were allowed to adjudicate.

Posted by: Gg | 2009-04-29 8:56:46 AM


Where are my meds? I'm going off the boil again..

Posted by: Wiener Prattles | 2009-04-29 10:21:01 AM


re: JC: "Suppose they gave an election, and nobody came..."

That already happened in the last election. This is what got us Special Ed in the first place. Well over half of Albertans stayed home. Had those disenchanted PC supporters voted for ANY alternative, Stelmach would feel at least a little fire under his heels.

Voters sitting at home and doing nothing is exactly what socialists like Stelmach want.

Some of this fault lands directly on the laps of the electorate whether we like it or not. Throwing up our hands and giving up is conceding a loss.

The only way to make a real change is to build an alternative and to replace the PCs altogether. That takes a lot of work however.

Participatory democracy requires participation. If we refuse to participate, we deserve what we get.

Posted by: C.Morgan | 2009-04-29 11:04:20 AM


Participatory democracy requires participation. If we refuse to participate, we deserve what we get.

Posted by: C.Morgan | 2009-04-29 11:04:20 AM

Take that a step further...what do we get if we don't participate?

I'm thinking that a government that thinks it can do whetever it wants because no one voted for it just might be the same government that finds itself out of a job. A government who's existence is ignored. Then perhaps a responsible administration (not "govern"ment)might be the next locical step.

But I'd like to hear your thoughts...what do you think would happen if absolutely no one voted?

Posted by: JC | 2009-04-29 6:54:04 PM



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