OTTAWA, October 24, 2001 ( – According to an Oct. 15 press release and backgrounder posted on the Justice Dept. web site, the proposed anti-terrorism legislation will: —amend the Criminal Code to eliminate online hate propaganda and create a new offence of mischief against places of religious worship or religious property; and —amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to extend the prohibition against hate messages beyond telephone messages to include all telecommunications technologies

The changes have startled free speech activists, who suggest that the government’s interpretation of hate propaganda might be used to hamper free speech. The concern is shared by pro-life and pro-family activists in Canada who recall that the Supreme Court redefined anti-discrimination legislation in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and may do the same with regards to hate crime legislation.

In an Edmonton Journal article today, well-known columnist Lorne Gunter expresses a concern that many are having about the ruling Liberals granting themselves such authoritarian legal powers. Gunter insists that there must be a sunset provision to aspects of the anti-terror bill and states he is “dubious of the Liberals’ ability to apply this new law only against those people most likely to pose a threat. Their record has made it hard to trust them.”

See the release on the Justice website: