OTTAWA, Ontario, November 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canada’s federal government has officially backed a private members bill seeking to repeal a controversial ‘hate speech’ provision that has been used to prosecute Christians and other conservatives for years.
In response to a question on Wednesday by Conservative MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul, AB), who introduced the bill to repeal section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act on September 30, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson signaled what is likely the clause’s death knell.
The ruling Conservatives have a sizeable majority in both houses and the bill is also expected to draw some support from the opposition benches.
“Our government believes that section 13 is not an appropriate or effective means for combatting hate propaganda. We believe the Criminal Code is the best vehicle to prosecute these crimes,” he told the House of Commons during Question Period.
“I say to the opposition, get on side with the media,” he continued. “Maclean’s magazine, the National Post and even the Toronto Star say this section should go.”
Critics have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent to a ‘thought crime.’ The controversial clause prohibits “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.”
The section has been repeatedly used to target Christians and conservatives, particularly those who hold traditional Christian views on homosexuality.
It has faced a groundswell of opposition in recent years, largely due to the high profile cases brought against conservative publisher Ezra Levant and columnist Mark Steyn, over their criticisms of Islamic extremism.
The Conservative Party passed a resolution to gut the section at its 2008 convention, with over 90% support.
Even the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal itself, in 2009, ruled that section 13 was unconstitutional. That ruling put an end to the 100% conviction rate the section had previously achieved.
A report commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2008 had called for section 13’s repeal. But the CHRC sidestepped the report, written by legal expert Richard Moon, and proposed their own solutions, which were criticized as “superficial.”
Speaking on his show, The Source, Ezra Levant said that with the government’s support “it’s now effectively a government bill.”
“With a Tory majority in both the House and the Senate, this bill is as good as passed,” he said. “No more witchhunts by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, no more persecuting their political enemies, which were just as often their religious enemies.”
Over the past ten years, he noted, the Canadian human rights commissions “effectively declared that Christianity itself was offensive, was hate speech.”
“Today is a great day, not just for conservatives or Christians, but for any Canadian who believes in true human rights, the human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” he said.
Contact your member of parliament here.