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

Mon Feb 9, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OTTAWA, February 9, 2009 ( - Federal MP’s will be looking today at proceeding with curtailing or scrapping Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and will consider the misuse of the Section by the Canadian Human Rights Commissions.

Section 13 of the 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.

At the Conservative Party convention in Winnipeg last fall, Resolution P-203, a resolution to remove Section 13 from the Act, was passed with almost unanimous consent. 

Conservative MP Brian Storseth initiated the review when he asked the Commons Justice Committee last week to examine how Section 13 has been used by the CHRC and to investigate the mandate of the CHRC itself.

"Concerns have been raised regarding the investigative techniques of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the interpretation and application of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act," Storseth said.

In light of what are seen as numerous shocking Human Rights Commission rulings, as well as the growing boldness of HRC opponents such as Canadian publisher Ezra Levant, and RCMP investigations into allegedly unscrupulous CHRC tactics, pressure is increasing on MPs on both sides of the House to take a stand to protect free speech in Canada.

A report released last November by University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon recommended that the Canadian government scrap Section 13 of the Human Rights Act. Ironically, the report was commissioned by the Commission itself, which has consistently denied any abuse of power in the face of mounting opposition.

Also 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 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."

Martin commented on the need for accountability on the part of the Commission:  "Some of the actions that they’ve been taking of late have been very disturbing I think to a lot of us and to a lot of Canadians.  So that’s why I put forth the motion to remove Section 13(1) but I think taking it to the Justice Committee, having a public and televised assessment of the proceedings, having an examination of the Canada Human Rights Act and the Commission will serve the Canadian public and serve the fundamental rights that are the pillars of our democracy."

The Globe and Mail reported that Liberal MP Brian Murphy said his party is not in favorr of removing Section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act, while NDP justice critic Joe Comartin said that though he opposes repealing Section 13, he believes the act has been used as a "blunt instrument" and that it requires significant amendments.

Read related LSN articles:

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

Canadian Human Rights Commission Employees Admit to Misconduct

Liberal MP Motion Calls for Public Examination of Human Rights Commission

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