Peter Baklinski

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‘Great day for freedom’: Canadian Senate axes Section 13 ‘Hate Crime’ provision

Peter Baklinski
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OTTAWA, June 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Free speech advocates who campaigned to scrap Canada’s “hate speech” clause obtained a significant victory last night, as the Senate gave a third and final reading to C-304, a bill which repeals the controversial Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The bill immediately went on to receive Royal assent.

“This is a great day for freedom,” wrote Marc Lemire on his blog FreedomSite.org. “As of today, there will never be a new Section 13 complaint ever again! The outstanding Section 13 cases have just won a huge battle.”

Lemire was the target of serial complainer Richard Warman, who a decade ago dragged Lemire before the Canadian Human Rights Commission on Section 13 grounds for posting online content that Warman alleged would “likely” incite hatred or contempt against homosexuals and blacks.

Critics of Section 13 have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent of 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.”

People accused of “hate speech” and brought before the Human Rights Commission (HRC) on Section 13 grounds were not presumed innocent — as is the case in a normal court — but had to prove their innocence.

According to Lemire, not a single person hauled before the HRC on Section 13 charges has ever been acquitted, giving the HRC a 100 percent conviction rate.

MP Brian Storseth (Westlock- St. Paul) brought forward the private members bill in 2011 to safeguard “freedom of expression” for all Canadians, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The bill enjoyed support from the highest levels in cabinet and received its first reading in September that same year.

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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 In his report, Moon’s principal recommendation was that section 13 be repealed. However, the CHRC ignored the report and proposed their own solutions, which were criticized as “superficial.”

Ezra Levant of Sun News Network’s The Source, one of the most prominent of those targeted through Section 13, told LifeSiteNews last year that Section 13 is a “Orwellian law that actually undermines our real rights—like freedom of expression and freedom of religion—and promotes counterfeit rights, like the right not to be offended.”

Levant said on his show that the section has been used as a “political weapon” by the Left for more than 35 years to silence their opponents.

The law was originally enacted in 1977 in order to silence John Ross Taylor, who had recorded racist messages onto his telephone answering machine for the public to hear.

Brian Lilley, senior correspondent for Sun Media on Parliament Hill, called the bill’s passage on his blog a “victory.”

“To put it bluntly, th[is] means you can’t take someone through the federal human rights apparatus over hurt feelings via a blog post or a Facebook comment,” he said.

“Now the bill is passed and will become law but like many acts of Parliament it will not come into force for a year. Still after a long hard battle to restore free speech in Canada, this is a victory,” he said. 

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