Canada’s hate law has its roots in the Report of the Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada (also known as the Cohen Committee), released in 1966. The report described the serious psychological harm caused by hate propaganda and noted that hate messages can also lead to an increase in discrimination.
After an early draft of the legislation that did not include provisions for dealing with hate messages stalled and died in Parliament in 1975, an updated bill (C-25) was introduced the following year. It passed and received royal assent on July 14, 1977, and became the Canadian Human Rights Act, Chapter 33.
Prominent neo-Nazi John Ross Taylor was ordered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to shut down a telephone hotline that offered a recorded white power message. He refused, and was jailed for contempt.
Related to Mr. Taylor’s case, the Supreme Court ruled that the section did in fact violate the Charter right to freedom of expression, but it passed the “Oakes test,” which means it is a justifiable breach.
A subsection allowing the tribunal to order a person found to be spread hate messages to pay compensation of up to $5,000 to the victim was amended to expand the tribunal’s punitive powers. The federal government reasoned that raising the penalty limit under the act from $5,000 to $20,000 would ensure that tribunals had the discretion to award an amount that was fair in the circumstances.
Then justice minister Anne McLellan established a panel to review the act. Its report recommended that “the prohibition of hate messages in the act be broadened to encompass both existing and future telecommunication technologies in federal jurisdiction.”
Canada’s anti-terrorism bill (C-36) further amended the act to include the communication of hate messages over the Web.
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, pictured below, is found guilty by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal of promoting hate on his website, following a complaint that was brought forward in 1996.
Richard Warman, an Ottawa lawyer who would become the most prolific complainant under the controversial law, files a hate speech complaint against far-right-wing activist Marc Lemire, pictured at right, which reached its conclusion yesterday. Mr. Lemire responds by challenging the law itself.
A Muslim organization files a complaint under a comparable law in Alberta against Ezra Levant, then publisher of the Western Standard, for publishing the Danish Muhammad cartoons in the magazine. Mr. Levant responds by launching an advocacy campaign against human rights commissions.
Three hate speech complaints filed against Maclean’s for running excerpts of conservative columnist Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone, which described a rising demographic tide of Muslims in Europe that threatens to undermine liberal democracy, were dismissed by the federal human rights tribunal and those in Ontario and British Columbia.
Liberal MP Keith Martin put forth a motion to scrap section 13(1), expressing concerns later that “someone could be using the power of the state for their own private initiative.”
Law professor Richard Moon, who was commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to review Section 13, urges the government to repeal the provision so that online hate speech is only a criminal matter.
Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, presents a report to Parliament that recommends, among other things, that it scrap the penalty provisions.
Sept. 2, 2009
Six years later, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal dismisses all but one complaint against Mr. Lemire and calls Section 13 unconstitutional.
Compiled by Chris Boutet and Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Thank you for posting that, Mark (Hemingway). The Canadian “Human Rights” Tribunal’s decision is a huge victory for the free-speech campaign Ezra Levant and I and a few others have been waging for the last couple of years. When Maclean’s magazine and I were acquitted by the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal last year, a lot of people looked on it as a Steyn exemption — that if you were a prominent person with a powerful publisher and you both had deep pockets, the thought police would decide that discretion was the better part of valor. And, once the bigshots were out of the way, they’d go back to making life hell for little guys.
But Marc Lemire, though dogged and very deft in his approach, is not a prominent person. Indeed, he’s exactly the kind of obscure figure the thought police would have taken to the cleaners a couple of years back. Now the judge has, in effect, ruled that Section 13, Canada’s “hate speech” law, is unenforceable against anybody:
I have also concluded that s. 13(1) in conjunction with ss. 54(1) and (1.1) are inconsistent with s. 2(b) of theCharter, which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The restriction imposed by these provisions is not a reasonable limit within the meaning of s. 1 of theCharter. Since a formal declaration of invalidity is not a remedy available to the Tribunal (seeCuddy Chicks Ltd. V. Ontario (Labour Relations Board),  2 S.C.R. 5), I will simply refuse to apply these provisions for the purposes of the complaint against Mr. Lemire andI will not issue any remedial order against him.
This is the beginning of the end for the Canadian state’s policing of opinion: Judge Hadjis has repudiated the “human rights” regime’s entire rationale as well as a couple of decades of joke “jurisprudence”.
I confess I wasn’t optimistic when the thought enforcers decided to pick a fight with me, but Ezra Levant persuaded me that the thing to do was go nuclear on this disgusting racket and re-frame the debate. We succeeded. There’s a lesson here for American conservatives, particularly as the president and his allies, with the “fairness doctrine” and bills to control the Internet and whatnot, are tempted down a very Canadian path.
It is hard to say whether the decision announced Wednesday by Athanasios Hadjis, the quasi-judge of the Canadian “Human Rights” Tribunal, is a victory for free speech in Canada. He ruled that Marc Lemire, webmaster of Freedomsite.org, should not be punished for exercising his right to free speech, nor for allowing others who contributed unmoderated comments for exercising theirs.
He found only one act of Lemire’s sufficiently bitter to constitute “hate speech” — namely his posting of an article entitled “AIDS Secrets” by an American neo-Nazi, that went on rather tendentiously about blacks and homosexuals. But he let that pass, too, on the interesting argument that Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act is in conflict with our Charter of Rights, which unambiguously guarantees free speech. Either that, or his argument was that the CHRT has no right to punish anybody for anything: I have even more difficulty than other reviewers in making out the reasoning in
When home births include as many women with diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, previous stillbirth, substance abuse, twins, breech, placenta previa, macrosomia, IUGR, fetal anomaly, maternal anemia, renal disease, lupus and all other maladies as do hospital births, some sort of comparison may be possible. Until then, papers like the Canadian report rank below the lowest nadir in the scale of evidence – level 7 or “junk science”.
This paper is as valuable as reports of the sighting of the Loch Ness monster, of UFOs over Perth, of alien abduction and of successful transmutation of base metals into gold.
For sure the Canadian Medical Association Journal published it as they were afraid of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the body that ensures even raving lunatics have an equal right to publish their delusions in medical journals. I pity the women of Canada, and their babies. Barry Walters FRACP FRANZCOG
Obstetric and Internal Medicine
Royal Perth Hospital and King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Perth
Often in the discussion about the human rights commissions and tribunals in Canada and its provinces, the terms get confused or interchanged. So what is the difference between the two? Here is what their respective websites say:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission is empowered by the Canadian Human Rights Act to investigate and try to settle complaints of discrimination in employment and in the provision of services within federal jurisdiction. Under the Employment Equity Act, the Commission is responsible for ensuring that federally regulated employers provide equal opportunities for employment to the four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. The Commission is also mandated to develop and conduct information and discrimination prevention programs.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) is much like a court. It was created by Parliament to inquire into complaints of discrimination and to decide if what is alleged to have occurred is a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act. As an administrative tribunal, the CHRT has more flexibility than regular courts. This allows those who appear before it a chance to tell their cases more fully without having to follow strict rules of evidence. The Tribunal’s main goal is to ensure that the Canadian Human Rights Act is interpreted and applied fairly and impartially at all hearings. The Tribunal is not an advocate for human rights issues: That is the role of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
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