1. The court system, which administers the anti-hate provision of the Canadian Criminal Code, Sections 318 and 319 and
2. The provincial and federal human rights commissions (HRCs), which were established by each jurisdiction under its own legislation.
It is the contention of this paper that although the commissions were founded to address insupportable abuses in the areas of employment and accommodation, their mandate has been unwisely expanded to include what is, in effect, a censor’s role. Of especial concern is that in comparison to those accused of hate crimes in a court of law, respondents before HRCs have virtually no defence and are disadvantaged in several other ways.
Free speech is a core Canadian value, an essential element in a free and prosperous society, and it is significantly endangered by the growing body of unchallenged precedent that has been accumulated by an agenda-driven HRC system. Canadians are becoming unsure of what words may safely be said and which may not. Debate on vital matters of public policy has been chilled, as valuable voices are silenced along with those of marginal utility. Those functions of HRCs that remain useful to society should be transferred to the regular court system and the HRCs retired.
Failing this ideal solution, human rights codes should be amended by the removal of speech-restrictive sections or, if this too is beyond the reach of timid politicians, the specific inclusion in legislation of common law defences such as truth and fair comment. The onus is on the federal government to take the lead.
Nigel Hannaford ,60, is a 32-year newspaperman, for many years in operations but now serving on the editorial board of the
The Commission of Human Wrongs
Report calls for abolition of human rights commissions
Nigel Hannaford, the author of The Commission of Human Wrongs, says that the Commissions useful anti-discrimination functions can be transferred to the regular court system.
“The Human Rights Commissions,” he says, “should be retired.”
But failing this ideal solution, he adds, human rights codes should be amended by the removal of speech-restrictive sections or, if this too is beyond the reach of timid politicians, such common law defences as truth and fair comment should be added to the legislation.
But, in the end, Hannaford says that the commissions must go. “
Click to download a copy of The Commission of Human Wrongs
Nigel Hannaford, 60, is a 32-year newspaperman, for many years in operations, but now serving on the editorial board of the Calgary Herald. British by birth, Hannaford has worked in
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is an independent, non-profit organization that under-takes research and education in support of economic growth and social outcomes that will enhance the quality of life in our communities.