Provincial “hate” laws still a serious threat to free speech

I hesitate to review all the comments made regarding the nullification of the notorious “Section 13“, but I do subscribe to the viewpoint that Section 13 was likely abandoned to it’s fate by its original Jewish sponsors.

It had become a liability in that it was now being used against them by Muslim organizations, a consequence that might not have seemed likely thirty or forty years ago.

Had Ezra Levant, MacLeans Magazine, and Mark Steyn not been dragged before “human rights commissions”, nothing by way of repeal would have happened easily despite Marc Lemire’s stunning victory with the help of the late Douglas Christie, Canada’s “battling barrister”.

In his article on the repeal of Section 13 appearing in the Toronto Sun on July 6th, we have another excellent analysis of a complex legal issue by their solicitor-emeritus Alan Shanoff.

Why is it that Royal Assent to the repeal will not be given until June of next year?  And why do several provinces still have similar provisions in their own legislation?

Section 13 was the kind of thing we expect to see in dictatorships and banana republics, not governing the exercise of free speech in an advanced first-world country with a long history of commitment to individual freedom and the rule of law.

Truth and intent were not considered to be defences, and “hurt feelings” alone could result in a guilty finding; it’s no wonder this appalling legislation had a 100% conviction rate.

Mr. Shanoff observes that even now, “Any item thought to be hate speech can be the subject of a human rights complaint in Saskatchewan, British Columbia or Alberta provided that the item is accessible on the Internet in one of those provinces”.

Does this mean that a person in, say, New Brunswick, could be the subject of a complaint in Alberta, over comments made about people in some other province, or even outside Canada?  This is illogical and nonsensical, and could be considered a challenge to federal authority.

The “age of the internet” requires that some standards be applied uniformly across the country, and this is an issue which is crying out for rationalization.

It is far too early to think we are out of the woods, and the provincial legislation in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta, presents the possibility of “lawfare” in which people might find themselves having to cross the country to defend themselves against frivolous complaints in one of these still-existing kangaroo courts.

Hopefully, Section 13’s repeal might have a dampening effect on provincial human rights legislation enforcement, but there is no guarantee of that.

We still have a long way to go to get this disgusting situation properly cleaned up.

Jeff Goodall.

See Alan Shanoff’s article here.

For other coverage, see here, here, and here.

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