By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OTTAWA, June 12, 2009 ( – The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has ignored the report it commissioned by constitutional law expert Richard Moon of the University of Windsor last year, which recommended that the Canadian government scrap Section 13 of the Human Rights Act. In a new report, titled “Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Hate in the Internet Age,” the CHRC has instead recommended to Parliament that “the Canadian Human Rights Act continue to be used to protect Canadians from the harm caused by extreme hate messages on the Internet.”

The contentious Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act gives the CHRC and its tribunals the authority to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related so-called “hate messages.” It has been the subject of widespread criticism in recent years, with critics charging that the Commission has focused its energies almost entirely on prosecuting Christians and conservatives, and accusing it of using suspect investigation tactics.

Last year, Liberal MP Dr. Keith Martin introduced a motion in the House of Commons calling for a public examination of the Canada Human Rights Act, and in particular Section 13, and the Commission and Tribunal that stems from it.

“I had just returned from the Canadian Association of Journalists AGM in which I attended a debate with a member of the CHRC,” said Dr. Martin at the time. “After the debate it became even more obvious that the Act needs to be modernized. The CHRC member had little understanding of the deep flaws and misuses of the Act by the Commission and the trampling of free speech that the Commission sometimes engages in.”

Well-known conservative columnist Mark Steyn expressed his opinion of the new CHRC report on his weblog, Steynposts, where he deconstructed the document, beginning with its title.

“That title is itself quite revealing,” writes Steyn. “’Freedom of’ denotes a genuine human right: Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of movement. ‘Freedom from’ (with the exception of ‘freedom from government control’) denotes not a human right but a massive government enforcement regime: ‘Freedom from hate’ is an especially repugnant concept to a free society, since ‘hate’ is a human emotion and the degree of state policing required to ‘free’ a society therefrom is by definition totalitarian. No one has the right to be ‘free from hate’, even if the arbiters of such a concept were less biased, corrupt and deformed than the CHRC.”

Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B'nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish community's foremost human rights organization, said in a press release that, “While we are pleased that the Commission acknowledged the significant problems in the system and undertook a process of review, we feel that its recommendations did not go far enough to address these issues.”

“What the Commission is recommending is, in essence, cosmetic tinkering to deal with a human rights system that is in need of a major overhaul.” 

“We urge the Commission to implement a full package of substantive reform, so that it does not leave the door wide open for future ongoing abuses,” concluded Dimant. “We call on Parliament to examine in Committee the report tabled today and be guided by the many recommendations submitted by B'nai Brith Canada in its report to Prof. Richard Moon.”

Contact information for Prime Minister Stephen Harper available here

Contact Information for Members of Parliament available here.

See previous LSN coverage:

Federal Politicians Set To Review Hate-speech Provision of Canadian Human Rights Act

Canadian Human Rights Commission Consultant's Report Calls For Repeal of “Hate Speech” Law

Liberal MP Keith Martin: Parliament must Protect Freedom of Speech from Human Rights Commissions