MP Calls Canadian Government Defense of Human Rights Subsection 13(1) “absolutely shocking”

Justice Department indicates truth and fair comment are no defense
Tue May 20, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

OTTAWA, May 20, 2008 ( - Liberal MP Keith Martin has responded to the Conservative government’s Justice Department 50-page defense of subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act as "absolutely shocking."

  The Government released the defense in response to growing criticism of subsection 13(1), which states, "any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

  The 50-page missive has been condemned for invoking vague and inconclusive evidence, pointing to the need to ban free speech in order to prevent possible violence and often referencing the Nazis and Fascist eras in support of this point.  For an analysis of the 50-page missive by Canadian publisher and writer Ezra Levant see: ( 

  During a question period last Thursday regarding the defense, Martin was asked if he was "shocked to find out that the Justice Department’s own filings said truth and fair comment are no defense", to which he replied, "Well, there were a lot of things in the Justice Department’s missive which I find absolutely shocking."  Martin then alluded to the fact that 13(1) acts as a catalyst in repressing free speech for the sake of combating hate crimes and concluded his answer by saying, " The Justice Department’s missive really was a trampling of basic human rights, human rights that are enshrined in our Charter and I was very disturbed by their intervention."

  Martin has recently sent letters to the members of the Justice Committee bidding them to reassess 13(1) and examine the questionable operations of the Human Rights Commission, which has been accused of corrupting evidence and names as well as assessing decisions based on the principle of guilty until proven innocent. 

  These allegations do not seem to be unfounded considering that it was revealed during an extraordinary hearing on March 25th that an RCMP initiated investigation has been initiated over alleged Canadian Human Rights Commission hacking into a personal Internet user’s account in an attempt to cover up their tracks after surfing anti-Semitic websites.

  Martin commented on the need for accountability and justice to be rendered on the Human Rights Committee:  " . . .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 Liberal MP first addressed this controversial subsection in January with the proposal of motion M-446, which called for the removal of 13(1) from the Human Rights Act.

  He was soon after labelled a white supremacists and advocate of the KKK. It is believed the Conservative Government is cowering over the issue, avoiding a principled stand and leaving the commissions’ growing list of victims defenceless out of fear that it will be similarly categorized.  Supporting this theory is the fact that in February, all Conservative MP’s were sent a memo instructing them to be noncommittal on motion M-446.  The memo was sent from the office of Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson, known to be a strongly pro-life and pro-family MP, indicating he was very likely ordered by the Prime Minister to submit the Section 13(1) defence.  Adding to the puzzlement of the government’s actions is the fact that Prime Minister Harper had been a strong critic of Canada’s Human Rights Commissions when he headed the National Citizens Coalition.  

  Commenting on this Martin said, "I think Mr. Harper has told Mr. Nicholson, our Justice Minister, to put a muzzle on their MPs.  But the Conservative MPs, as many members in my caucus, have expressed deep concerns about where the Canada Human Rights Commission has gone."

  Canadian MP’s have begun, though hesitantly, to show signs of support for Martin and motion M-446.  Simcoe-North Conservative MP Bruce Stanton recently called the Human Rights cases against Ezra Levant and Bruce Steyn "scurrilous cases."  But his was not until a constituent, David Tracey, declared he was withdrawing his support after having several emails ignored regarding the cases.

  Likewise, the office of South Surrey, White Rock and Cloverdale Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, replied to a constituent on the matter by saying they agreed with his criticism of the Human Rights Commission but could not comment any further.  Yet, this was not until the constituent threatened to cease Conservative Party funding.

  In light of what are seen as numerous shocking Human Rights Commission rulings and the growing boldness of HRC opponents, pressure is increasing on MPs to take a stand to protect Canada’s now seriously threatened traditional freedoms. Calls for withdrawing funding from the Conservative Party have been increasing on conservative blogs as the government continues to avoid reining in the out-of-control human rights commissions.

  See Ezra Levant’s May 20 Blog posting:
  RCMP launches investigation into CHRC tactics

  See Related Coverage:

  Internal Memo Tells Canada’s Conservative MPs to be Noncommittal on Human Rights Commissions

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

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