Senator Paula Simons writes:
Let me be very clear. There is no good-faith way to debate or question the reality of the Holocaust, one of the best‑documented, well-researched atrocities in modern history. Anyone who questions or denies or diminishes its full horrors is not engaging in authentic, intellectual debate; they are spreading hate. Holocaust deniers are hatemongers. There is no way to question the reality of the Holocaust that is not, by definition, anti-Semitic.
Downplaying the Shoah is every bit as morally vile. When people who oppose masking rules pin yellow stars to their chests or dare to compare vaccine mandates to the Nazi war crimes prosecuted at Nuremberg, their facile appropriation of the horror of the Holocaust dishonours the memory of all those who died and all who survived.
Yet, my friends, today I rise in this chamber to oppose Bill C-19’s efforts to criminalize the denial or downplaying of the Holocaust.
Attaching criminal sanctions to such statements and actions won’t reduce anti-Semitism. It will, however, give neo-Nazis and racists a platform to play the martyr, to wrap themselves in the rhetoric of free speech and to claim the public spotlight as faux defenders of intellectual freedom. Is this funny? I don’t think this is funny. Maybe you could stop laughing. How do I know this will not work?
I agree. We should ridicule and expose holocaust deniers, not jail them.
I do not believe we can fight hate by criminalizing speech, however vile or deluded. Nor by silencing it, even if we could. Driving hate underground to curdle and fester doesn’t help.
Once we start to criminalize speech, to police what is true and what is false, once we use the Criminal Code and the criminal courts to silence the nasty political fringe, we start down a path that leads precisely where we do not wish to go.
Sadly many want us to go down that path.