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

Wed Nov 26, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By John Jalsevac

OTTAWA, November 26, 2008 ( – Following the release of the report on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions (CHRC) by Constitutional Law Professor Richard Moon, Liberal MP Keith Martin has called for parliament to act upon Moon’s suggestions and scrap section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).

Section 13 is the section that gives the CHRC jurisdiction over so-called “hate speech,” and has been widely used in recent years to prosecute Canadian Christians and conservatives, largely for publicly defending traditional Christian sexual ethics.

To the surprise of many, who believed that Moon - who was chosen by the CHRC to pen the report and who was paid a significant sum for doing so – would merely parrot the position of the CHRC in favor of retaining its powers to prosecute hate speech, the primary recommendation of his report was the repeal of the controversial section.

Moon recommended that “hate speech” cases should be taken out of the hands of the CHRC and left purely in the jurisdiction of the criminal court system. He also warned, "The use of censorship by the government should be confined to a narrow category of extreme expression - that which threatens, advocates or justifies violence against the members of an identifiable group."

Liberal MP Dr. Keith Martin has long been one of the most vocal advocates for the repeal of Section 13, having introduced a motion in Parliament in January of this year that called for its deletion from the CHRA.

Dr. Martin today responded to Moon’s recent report, saying, “Professor Richard Moon’s report on the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Act that governs it was a courageous assessment on how we can protect one of our true rights, the right to freedom of speech.”

“This is a sensible balance between the right to free speech and the protection all of us must have from being subjected to hate speech. The way forward is clear. Changing the Act rests solely within the powers of Parliament. It is now up to our elected officials to implement those solutions that will modify the CHRA in order to ensure that the Commission has the rules that will enable it to execute its duties in an effective manner,” he said.

Dr. Martin suggested that the government follow one of two courses of action:

1. Bring forth legislation into the House as soon as possible to amend the CHRA. This, he indicated, would be consistent with a proposal that was just supported by Conservative members at their recent party convention, which called for the repeal of Section 13.

2. Call on the Justice Committee to do a public assessment of the Act that is televised so that all Canadians can hear opinions on both sides of this issue, and then introduce legislation into the House based on these findings.

“There has never been a better time to protect our right to free speech, a right for which Canadians laid down their lives in two World Wars to defend,” said Dr. Martin.

See related coverage:

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

Liberal MP Motion Calls for Public Examination of Human Rights Commission

Liberal MP Launches Motion to Stop Human Rights Commission Squelching of Free Speech

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