Canada’s ‘hate speech’ provision faces the chopping block
OTTAWA, Ontario, October 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A private members bill introduced into the Canadian House of Commons is seeking to delete the controversial “hate speech” provision in the Human Rights Act that has been used to silence Christians and conservatives who express politically incorrect opinions.
“I’ve been working with colleagues to try to make sure that we make some changes to a piece of legislation that is flawed and — quite frankly — has been abused over the last several of years,” said Conservative MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul, AB) who introduced the bill, to Sun News.
Bill C-304 proposes to delete Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to ensure that there is no “infringement on freedom of expression” as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It received its first reading on September 30th, 2011.
Critics of section 13 have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent to a ‘thought crime.’ The provision defines a discriminatory practice as “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” if the person or persons affected are “identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
In 2008, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) hired constitutional law expert Professor Richard Moon to examine Section 13 of the act. In his report, Moon’s principle recommendation was that section 13 be repealed.
Bill C-304’s successful passage would also strike out section 54 of the act, the penalty clause for those convicted of transgressing section 13.
“This is really about freedom of speech in our country and pushing back on the tyrannical bureaucracy need to censor speech in our country,” said Storseth calling “free speech” a “fundamental bedrock of our society.”
“If we don’t have freedom of speech, what good are the other freedoms that go along with it? What good is the freedom to assemble or religious freedoms if you don’t have the freedom of speech in the first place?”
Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary is supporting Storseth’s bill. The bishop faced complaints in 2005, based upon a similar clause in the Alberta Human Rights Act, for defending traditional marriage in a pastoral letter.
“In Canada, we do not arrest people who are ‘likely’ to break the law. The law must actually be broken,” said Bishop Henry to the Catholic Register, referring to the ambiguous wording of section 13.
“I believe that the complaints that were lodged against me were an attempt to intimidate and silence me, and in point of fact, the lodging of these complaints constituted a violation of my right of freedom of expression and freedom of religion guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedom,” said Bishop Henry.
In the last 15 years, decisions by various Human Rights Commissions have penalized those who adhere to traditional Judaeo-Christian values.
Mayors have been fined for refusing to proclaim ‘gay pride’ days. A teacher was suspended for writing against homosexuality outside the classroom. A printer was fined for refusing to print materials for a homosexual activist group. A pastor was hauled before the courts for publishing a letter in a local paper calling pro-homosexual literature “psychologically and physiologically damaging” to young children. And even a political party was chastised for promoting Christian teaching on homosexuality.
“We really need to engage Canadians on this,” said Storseth.
“Canadians have an opportunity to have a voice. They need to make sure they are heard. They need to make sure that they e-mail or call their local member of parliament and let them know how important it is to them.”
Storseth hopes that the bill will be debated at the beginning of November and that the first vote will take place at the end of that month.
“I’m going to be working very hard on both sides of the aisle as freedom of speech is something that really should be a non partisan issue.”
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