OTTAWA, February 15, 2012 ( – The private member’s bill to scrap Section 13 of Canada’s ‘hate speech’ law is expected to get its second vote today, after being debated in Parliament yesterday.

Bill C-304, “An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act,” introduced by MP Brian Storseth, seeks to ensure greater protection of freedom of expression in Canada by deleting the controversial “hate speech” provision in the Human Rights Act that has been used to silence Christians and conservatives who express politically incorrect opinions.

Though the bill has received wide support from both sides of the government, a representative of the national Stand Up For Freedom Canada campaign, which is advocating for repeal of Section 13 and reform or elimination of Canada’s human rights commissions and tribunals, said MPs must still be encouraged to support the bill in order for it to pass.

If the bill passes today’s vote, it will face one more vote in the House of Commons and pass through the Senate before it becomes law.

“The fact that Bill C-304 is not a government bill is disappointing,” said Stand Up For Freedom Canada spokesman Neil Dykstra. “It really should have been a priority for any conservative government that values freedom. Because Mr. Storseth’s bill is a private member’s bill, it is not guaranteed to pass.”

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

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 In his report, Moon’s principle recommendation was that section 13 be repealed.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

Bill C-304’s successful passage would also strike out Section 54 of the act, the penalty clause for those convicted of transgressing Section 13.

Last November, in response to a question by Mr. Storseth, who introduced Bill C-304 in September, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said, “Our government believes that Section 13 is not an appropriate or effective means for combatting hate propaganda. We believe the Criminal Code is the best vehicle to prosecute these crimes.”

“I say to the opposition, get on side with the media,” Nicholson added. “Maclean’s magazine, the National Post and even the Toronto Star say this section should go.”

Member of Parliament for Edmonton – St. Albert, Brent Rathgeber, stated in support of the repeal of Section 13, “Any legislation which limits the ability to speak freely without fear of Government reprisal is inappropriate in my view. Free speech, if it is to exist, cannot be subject to some bureaucracy. There is no such thing as government regulated free speech. Either there is free speech or there is not.”

André Schutten, a lawyer and member of Stand Up For Freedom Canada, pointed out that freedom of expression without government censure is at stake in the vote on Bill C-304.

“There is much at stake with the passage of this bill,” Schutten said. “If Bill C-304 is defeated, Parliament will in effect be encouraging censorship by its bureaucratic agencies. This will embolden the human rights tribunals and commissions to continue and increase their targeted persecution of politically incorrect opinions and ideas.”

“We urge all Canadians to contact their Member of Parliament to support freedom of expression in Canada, to support Bill C-304,” Stand Up For Freedom Canada advises.

The group has created a convenient web form to customize and send a letter to the Prime Minister, Justice Minister, and MPs.

Contact info for all members of parliament is available here.

The text of Bill C-304 is available here.

The text of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is available here.