Canada repeals hate speech laws

The Montreal Gazette reports:

The Conservative government voted late Wednesday to repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech over the telephone or Internet.

 In a vote of 153 to 136, the majority Harper government supported a private member’s bill from Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code, which deals with complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.”

This is a good thing, and the excesses of what happened in should be top of mind if we consider any initiatives to “control” speech on the Internet here. People should face consequences for speech that causes actual harm such as economic or reputation loss (defamation), violence (Crimes Act) but trying too regulate political opinions – even extreme ones, is not good.

Storseth said the current human rights code allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, when the Criminal Code already covers hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group.

Exactly – the focus should be on speech that generates actual harm.

Acts of hate speech are serious crimes that should be investigated by police officers, not civil servants, he said, and the cases should be handled by “real judges and real lawyers,” instead of a quasi-judicial body such as the human rights commission.

I’m not quite so sangine about the Police investigating. In the UK there have been some horrendous cases where school kids are prosecuted for using racially insensitive language.

New Democrat public-safety critic Randall Garrison said Wednesday that, due to the large number of hate crimes, the human-rights commission needs to have the power to combat the issue online and force individuals and groups to remove websites containing hateful speech.

I’m against this, even a ban on “hate speech” would see certain left blogs be banned 🙂

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