Canadian Hate Laws.
Where they have burned books, they will end in
burning human beings.- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
The federal government has just voted to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Section 13 of the act reads as follows:
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, 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.
Read that over a second, “…likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt…” That is a very dangerous phrase to have introduced into Canadian law, because it essentially holds the author legally accountable for any hard feelings created by what they’ve written. And unlike the Canadian laws on defamation, there is no defence of truth, privilege, fair comment or responsible journalism to protect you. Before today, if you contravened this section, you could have been taken to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and interrogated over your opinions.
Canadian Hate Laws - Conservatives strike blow for freedom
Tories yank Section 13 of human rights act like noxious weed
FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012 08:38 PM EDT | UPDATED: MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012 09:44 PM EDT
To understand how Canada got an Internet censorship law, also known as Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, you must go back in time to 1913.
That’s when John Ross Taylor was born in Toronto.
Something about Taylor just wasn’t right. In his 20s, as the world lurched towards the Second World War, Taylor openly sided with the Nazis. He was interned during the war. After the war, despite the absolute repudiation of Nazism, Taylor didn’t give up hope. He continued to call for Canadians to throw off our liberal democracy in favour of dictatorship. And, of course, he seasoned that with a dose of anti-Semitism and anti-black racism, too.
It was pitiful: He’d print up some pamphlets, climb to the top of an office tower, and dump them off the roof, like confetti, hoping that would foment a revolution. What a deluded loser. But Taylor was never violent. If you turn the sound off when watching reels of him on the news, you’d mistake him for a banker — always dressed in a three-piece suit, the kind of thing you’d expect from the grandson of a Toronto alderman. But he just wanted an all-white Reich here in Canada.
Obviously this bothered right-minded people after the war, especially Jews in Canada, many of whom were survivors of the Holocaust. Canada’s Official Jews — the bosses of the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress — pressed their friends in the Liberal Party for laws banning Taylor’s anti-Semitic rants. And in 1966, a committee appointed by the justice minister proposed new laws to ban hateful speech. The Cohen Commission specifically mentioned Taylor by name as a rationale.
Using this harmless buffoon as an excuse, they recommended infringing on freedom of speech for all Canadians. “There is an evident distinction between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ public discussion, and the state has as great an obligation to discourage the latter as it has to maintain the former,” they wrote.
So in 1977, Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Section 13 made it illegal to publish anything “… likely to expose a person … to hatred or contempt.”
Well, around that time, telephone answering machines were all the rage. And Taylor, now a senior citizen, saw this as his magic weapon for convincing Canadians to go fascist. He would stand around street corners in Toronto, handing out cards inviting people to get a racist message by calling his answering machine. Seriously.
Taylor was charged — and convicted — of having a mean answering machine message. He appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court — which heard the case in 1990, when he was 80. They ruled against him, four to three.
Gentle reader, do you think after such a stubborn life Taylor complied and unplugged his answering machine? He did not. And thus he served nine months in jail — more than most Canadian rapists do.
For more than 30 years, Section 13 had a 100% conviction rate for the thought crime of hurting someone’s feelings.
What an abusive law. What an un-Canadian law. What a ridiculous law in the age of the Internet.
Last week that law was pulled out, like a noxious weed. In 20 years time, I predict it will be regarded as one of the Conservatives’ greatest legacies: Freedom.
Canadian Hate Laws - The Authority for Canadian Hate Laws
Section 13 is used to attack websites which promote hate as defined in this section;
- Section 318 - Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Section 319 - Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of ........
Section 320 - A judge who is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that any publication, copies of which are kept for sale or distribution in premises within the jurisdiction of the court, is hate propaganda shall issue a warrant under his hand authorizing seizure of the copies.
Canadian Hate Laws have Invited Controversy
Canadian hate laws have invited controversy since their inception because there is a fine line between freedom of speech, which is honoured by Canada, and Canada's desire to treat all identifiable groups fairly and promote in those groups a sense of their security and safety in the Canadian community.
On September 2, 2009 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Section 13, of the hate speech law, violates the Charter right to free expression because it carries the threat of punitive fines.
This decision sent shock waves throughout Canada because the decision by Tribunal member Athanasios Hadjis leaves several hate speech cases in limbo, and appears to strip the Canadian Human Rights Commission of its controversial legal mandate to pursue hate on the Internet, which it has strenuously defended against complaints of censorship.
It also marks the first major failure of Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, an anti-hate law that was conceived in the 1960s to target racist telephone hot lines, then expanded in 2001 to the include the entire Internet, and for the last decade used almost exclusively by one complainant, activist Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman.
This decision will be appealed in federal court in 2010.
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