Saturday, February 23, 2008

Canadian Journalist Association Demands an end to CHRC Censorship

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/February2008/22/c5147.html

 

Attention Newsroom Managers:

CAJ urges changes to human rights laws

    OTTAWA, Feb. 22 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is
calling on federal and provincial governments to amend human rights
legislation to stop a pattern of disturbing attacks on freedom of speech.
 
    Two recent cases spotlight the dangers of allowing state-backed agencies
to censor speech based on subjective perceptions of offensiveness - MacLean's
magazine, which is facing complaints in two provinces and nationally for an
article by syndicated columnist Mark Steyn, and Ezra Levant, the former
publisher of the Western Standard who is now before the Alberta Human Rights
Commission for his decision to publish the Danish cartoons of the Islamic
prophet Muhammad.
 
    "Human rights commissions were never intended to act as a form of thought
police," said CAJ President Mary Agnes Welch. "But now they're being used to
chill freedom of expression on matters that are well beyond accepted Criminal
Code restrictions on free speech."
 
    The CAJ supports Liberal MP Keith Martin's private members motion to have
section 13(1) of federal human rights legislation, the clause dealing with
published material, repealed. Similar provincial legislation should also be
amended as required.
 
    "The lack of political leadership on this issue, apart from Mr. Martin
and a few others, is appalling," said Welch. "Even people who helped create
human rights commissions have said they were never meant to act as censors.
Since a number of commissions have accepted these complaints as worthy of
investigation, there clearly needs to be government direction to stop the
ongoing erosion of one of Canada's most fundamental rights."
 
    The CAJ believes that laws of libel and slander, hate speech and other
provisions found within the Criminal Code provide sufficient restrictions on
freedom of speech. Human rights commissions, which are not bound by the same
rules of evidence of the courts, have become last-ditch end-arounds for those
who want to silence commentary they disagree with.
 
    "Whether you agree with Steyn or Levant is immaterial. If they're
breaking no laws, they should have the right, in our democracy, to speak
freely," said Welch.
 
    The CAJ will be monitoring the investigations in these two cases and
plans to intervene if the process moves to the tribunal stage. The CAJ,
however, strongly urges the Canadian human rights commission, as well of those
of Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, to simply dismiss these complaints completely.
 
    The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization
with some 1,500 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary role is to
provide-public interest advocacy and high quality professional development for
its members.
 
 
 
For further information: 
Mary Agnes Welch, president, CAJ: (204)943-6575; 
John Dickins, executive director, CAJ: (613) 526-8061, Cell: (613)868-5442; 
Paul Schneidereit, past president, CAJ: (902) 426-2811

 

 

 

Friday, February 22, 2008

PEN CANADA Hammers Section 13! PEN Canada calls for changes to human rights commission legislation

http://www.pencanada.ca/media/feb42008-statement.pdf

 

 

PEN Canada calls for changes to human rights commission legislation

 

February 4, 2008 -- PEN Canada calls on the federal and provincial governments

to change human rights commission legislation to ensure commissions can no

longer be used to attempt to restrict freedom of expression in Canada.

Recent complaints in Alberta against journalist Ezra Levant and in Ontario

against Maclean’s magazine and its writer Mark Steyn raise disturbing questions

about the degree to which human rights commissions have taken it upon

themselves to become arbiters of what constitutes free speech.

 

PEN Canada believes this is not the role of human rights commissions and that

governments across the country need to make that clear both to their

commissions and to Canadians.

 

Neither Mr. Levant nor Maclean’s magazine and Mr Steyn published anything

that incited violence against the Muslim community although both have been

subject of complaints to commissions. Nor did their comments violate anyone’s

human rights.

 

As the Canadian Civil LIberties Association has suggested, human rights

legislation was designed to prevent discrimination in workplaces, in

accommodation and in providing goods and services to individuals. Commissions

were created to adjudicate complaints about such issues when they arose. They

were never designed to restrict the free expression of opinions.

 

“Whether you agree with Mr. Levant’s decision that the Western Standard should

publish the Danish cartoons about the prophet Mohammed or not, no one in a

free and democratic country such as Canada can seriously argue the magazine

should not have the right to publish them,” said PEN Canada’s national affairs

chair Christopher Waddell.

 

“That is equally true for Maclean’s magazine and the excerpt it published from

Mark Steyn’s book that led to the complaint against that publication.”

Neither complaints should ever have been accepted by a human rights

commission and both should be immediately dismissed.

 

To ensure there is no repetition of such attempts to constrain freedom of

expression through the guise of human rights legislation, PEN supports calls for

removal of subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act which states that

it is discriminatory when individual or groups say or write anything that is “likely

to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”

 

Similar wording in provincial human rights statutes should likewise be removed.

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

PUNDITA: Marc Lemire gives Pundita a tour of the Section 13 Maze

 

http://pundita.blogspot.com/2008/02/marc-lemire-gives-pundita-tour-of.html

 

 

Thursday, February 21

PART ONE
My Jurassic Park post sparked two great responses, both from highly informed readers. The first was from Canadian journalist Deborah Gyapong, which she published on her blog under the title Keith Martin's motion not enough. Scroll past the quotes she provides to my post to arrive at her points, which contain an excellent suggestion about forming a commission to study Section 13.

The second response came from Canadian Marc Lemire, who wrote to refute the numbered points I listed in the Jurassic Park post. Lemire's rebuttal is based on the 'real-world' experience of someone who tries to fall back on the law as a defense in a Section 13 case. That's when you learn about the trap doors and dead ends in the law, and realize you've entered a maze from which there is no exit other than accepting state-inflicted punishment.

Lemire is the "... only person to constitutionally challenge the 'new' version of section 13, which came into effect in 2002 under the anti-terrorism act." A copy of his brief is posted to his Freedomsite website.

To date Lemire has gone through "25 hearing days, spanning 3 cities, and has called 3 experts and 4 fact witnesses. Spanning 5 years of litigation. And the case is far from over. Still more witnesses and then 3 days of closing arguments. A decision in 2009 or 2010."

Lemire's rebuttal was unable to budge me from the points I enumerated in the Jurassic Park post. That's because I contend that in effect I'm correct -- although I should exclude #6, which is not so much a point as Pundita being sarcastic.

For example, Lemire states that a person who is not in a protected group can file a Section 13. That's true but the complaint has to relate to an allegation of hatred directed against a protected group. In other words, everyone has legal sanction to act as a vigilante for the Human Rights Act.

I could argue on in this nit-picking fashion but it's more important at this stage to give the floor to Marc Lemire. Canadians who are contemplating a "patch" to Section 13; i.e., some way to amend it, will realize after reading Lemire's letter that there can be no compromise. The section has to be removed.

The second installment of this post (which will be published on Monday) will feature email exchanges with Lemire after I received his first letter. I ask him questions including, "Are you a neo-Nazi?" and he details more of the Section 13 maze and its devastating effect on those trapped inside.

"Pundita:
I was reading your recent post about the Canadian Human Rights Act, where you claim Keith Martin is wrong [to assert that one can file a Section 13 on the basis of being "offended" by speech]. In fact you are wrong. [My points shown in boldface.]

I've already covered this ground in earlier posts but to review, in order for the HRC to investigate a Section 13 complaint:

1) You must be a member of a group considered vulnerable or 'protected' by the Human Rights Act.


Under Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, you do NOT need to be a member of any affected group. Just look at Richard Warman, who has filed close to 50% of all Section 13 cases, and he has testified that he is a white Anglo. He is not a member of any “vulnerable” or “protected” groups. In the ruling by the CHRC [Canadian Human Rights Commission] in my own case, they ruled on April 15, 2005 the following:

[35] Marc Lemire objects to the complaint because he believes that Richard Warman filed in bad faith and that he is not a victim of the alleged discrimination. However, section 40 (5)(b) of the Canadian Human rights Act does not require that the complainant be the intended target of the alleged discrimination for section 13 complaints.

[36] … section 40(5)(b) of the Canadian Human Rights Act does not require that the complainant be the intended target of the alleged discrimination for section 13 complaints.

See the attached investigators report in PDF format to read it yourself.[*]

2) You must claim or clearly imply that you believe that a public message(s) exposes you to the likelihood of hatred and contempt.

Again the Canadian Human Rights Act does NOT require you to prove that any messages expose anyone to the “likelihood” of hatred or contempt. The mere fact it is on the internet, the CHRC has interpreted that to mean it is “repeated” and therefore NO evidence is required to prove it actually did cause any hatred or contempt. Read the Winnicki or Kouba decisions.

4) The words "hatred and contempt" have a precise and profound meaning in the HRC and Human Rights Act lexicon. The meaning, which has nothing to do with the sense of being offended, has been upheld all the way up to Canada's Supreme Court.

This was true perhaps 20 years ago. The Tribunal has now twisted that definition to be the “hallmarks of hate”. These “hallmarks” include such things as “quoting true news stories, etc.,” as Mark Steyn has commented.

See the Tribunal's ruling in Kouba and Beaumont, which talk about these new “hallmarks of hate.”

5) The words "hatred and contempt," when used in the context of Section 13, indicate that the person who meets the criteria for making a Section complaint is particularly vulnerable to psychological trauma due to fear of being exposed to hatred and contempt.

This is not true also. Read the Winnicki decision. In that ruling by the Tribunal, where they rule that Warman gets into arguments with people like Winnicki. He is the complainant, and he never once claimed to be personally vulnerable to hatred or contempt.

In my own case, I challenged the claim that hatred or contempt cause any trauma. See the transcripts of my case online at www.richardwarman.com. In the modern age, words on the internet do not cause any trauma, and there is no cause-effect studies that can prove this. It's all novel science that has NEVER been proven.

6) If you are not in a vulnerable group, you are expected to live with whatever mental trauma you experience, if you find yourself the object of "likely" hatred and contempt due to a particular public message.

This is perhaps your opinion, but has never been ruled in any Tribunal hearing… EVER. And it certainly cannot be claimed that Section 13 has anything to do with that.

7) If you are in a vulnerable group and find yourself such an object, then under law you are a special case, and so you have a right to file a Section 13 complaint. Moreover, if you can present reasonable grounds for your fear, you are virtually guaranteed of a HRC Section 13 tribunal finding in your favor.

You need not prove you are in a “vulnerable group” to get a finding in your favour. Every single case has been favorable in the complainant's favour -- EVERY SINGLE ONE, since the 1970s. See the spreadsheet I have on my website, which shows that no case on its merits has EVER been ruled in the respondent's favor.

You go on to mention the Cohen [Commission] report. During my CHRC hearing I directly challenged the Cohen report [by providing] a serious expert witness. (Unlike the one Cohen relied on, who was a junior professor with little to no actual experiments to make the claims he did.)

See the attached CV and report by expert Dr. Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist from Laurentian University. This should open your eyes to the alleged claims in the Cohen report.

Marc Lemire
Freedomsite.org "

* The files Lemire mentions are at his site; they are available there in PDF.

 

# posted by Pundita : 2/21/2008 09:18:00 PM

 

Monday, February 18, 2008

MP3 on the CHRC's censorship from Victor Lams

The Canadian Human Rights Commission

I'm still tweaking the mix on this one, but I figured I should post it tonight so I could say I'd done at least one productive thing today.

If you want to know what this song is about, just google "Canadian Human Rights Commission". They're both wacky and evil. Free Mark Steyn!

Listen now: http://www.victorlams.com/audio/VLams_-_Canadian_Human_Rights_Commission.mp3

 

New York Post: CANADA'S 'HATE POLICE'

CANADA'S 'HATE POLICE'

By JACOB SULLUM | New York Post

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02162008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/canadas_hate_police_97896.htm

 

February 16, 2008 -- LAST month, when an officer of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission in terrogated him about his decision to reprint the notorious Muhammad cartoons that originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Ezra Levant did not try to ingratiate himself.

Levant, former publisher of the news magazine the Western Standard, called the commission "a sick joke," compared it unfavorably with Judge Judy and dared the "thug" across the table to recommend that he face a hearing for publishing material that offended Muslims.

That way, Levant explained, he could be convicted, which would give him a chance to challenge the censorship that Canadian human-rights commissions practice in the name of fighting discrimination.

"I do not want to be excused from this complaint because I was reasonable," he said. "It is not the government's authority to tell me whether or not I'm reasonable."

Legally, that remains to be seen. Canada's national and provincial human-rights commissions were established in the 1970s to vet complaints about discrimination in employment, housing, and the provision of goods and services. But many of them have broad legal mandates that can be used to attack freedom of speech.

Alberta's Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, for example, prohibits publishing anything that "is likely to expose a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt."

Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, claims Levant did that by running the Muhammad cartoons. "Publishing of cartoons in the Western Standards [sic] is in fact spreading hate against me," Soharwady scrawled on a complaint form he submitted to the commission in February 2006. He also complained that "Mr. Ezra Levant insulted me" when the two debated the cartoon controversy on CBC Radio.

Soharwardy is demanding an apology. The commission can impose fines and gag orders as well.

Meanwhile, the Canadian, Ontario and British Columbia human-rights commissions are considering similar complaints against Maclean's magazine and the journalist Mark Steyn over an October 2006 article adapted from his book "America Alone."

The Canadian Islamic Congress claims Steyn "subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt" and harms their "sense of dignity and self-worth" by worrying about high Muslim birth rates.

Even if a complaint is dismissed, Levant notes, responding to it requires "thousands of dollars in lawyer's fees" and "an enormous amount of time," which encourages journalists to steer clear of touchy subjects.

"A warning shot has gone out to every other media [outlet] in the country," he said during the 90-minute commission interview. "'Don't mess around with the Muslim radicals because they'll call in the censors.'"

In Levant's case, the censors were represented by a bland bureaucrat named Shirlene McGovern, paid to enforce the commandment that Jonathan Rauch dissected in his 1993 book "Kindly Inquisitors": "Thou shalt not hurt others with words." As Rauch cogently argued, "This moral principle is deadly . . . to intellectual freedom and to the productive and peaceful pursuit of knowledge."

But in a sense, Levant and Steyn are lucky. An Afghan journalism student recently was condemned to death for downloading and distributing a report that criticizes the way Islamic radicals interpret the Koran to justify oppression of women. The student's Afghan defenders argued that distributing the report did not amount to blasphemy, that the prosecution was politically motivated, that the trial was unfair and that the sentence was excessively harsh.

The one thing they didn't say was what Levant said when confronted by Canada's kindly inquisitors: that even if the controversial speech is contrary to Islam and offensive to Muslims, the government has no business punishing him for it.

"I reserve maximum freedom to be maximally offensive, to hurt feelings as I like," Levant told McGovern.

While he has publicly explained the journalistic reasons for running the Muhammad cartoons many times, he said, "The only thing I have to say to the government about why I published [them] is because it's my bloody right to do so."

 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

No Political Will on Free Speech

http://www.noapologies.ca/2008/02/week-in-review-feb-16-08.html

 

 

Week in Review - Feb 16, '08

 

LISTEN NOW:  http://www.noapologies.ca/021608.mp3

 

 

We broke a major story on the Free Speech front here at NoApologies this week.  We got our hands on a "talking points" memo out of Ottawa - a memo that has set off a firestorm of protest in the blogosphere.  The document, which was circulated to all Conservative MP's offices on Friday, February 9th, is entitled "Talking points re:  CHRA & CHRC", and it basically instructs MP's to keep a very low profile on any discussion surrounding Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  Liberal MP Keith Martin served notice earlier this month of a motion he wants to bring before Parliament to scrap Section 13(1) of the Act.  This is the section that has been widely criticised for suppressing free speech rights.  Critics say the section is being used by Muslim and gay rights activists to silence anyone who disagrees with them.  The document tells MP's repeatedly to stress the point that the Harper government "is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights", and that the Canadian Human Rights Commission is an "independent agency" that administers the Human Rights Act "without interference from the government."

As for the specifics of Martin's motion, the MP's are instructed to say that the motion was "just recently tabled and will not be up for debate in the near future," and that they should assure their constituents that if and when the issue "comes before the house for debate, (they) will follow it closely and.. arrive at a position at that time."

The document also instructs MP's to essentially shift the focus away from the Section 13 discussion by talking about the government's ongoing efforts to repeal Section 67 of the Act.  That section essentially exempts First Nations from any and all provisions or enforcement of the Act in cases where discrimination happens on native land.  Nicholson's document says that Section of the Act essentially prevents First Nations people "from receiving the same legal protection against discrimination that is afforded to all other Canadians," and that MP's should use the line "My Canada includes First Nations" when discussing the Section 67 issue.

The release of the document prompted a strong outpouring of anger in the blogospere.   Connie Fournier, who runs Canada's biggest conservative web discussion group, FreeDominion.ca, says the story has a lot of conservatives pretty upset.  "A lot of people who have been really staunch supporters of the Conservative Party are really starting to vent over this.  They feel like the talking points were really condescending." 

Kathy Shaidle picked up the story for the National Post - with credit to us - and wrote that it's "too bad the PMO's response to citizens' concerns about the erosion of their free speech rights is to issue a (secret) document, telling our elected representatives to keep quiet or change the subject.  Sounds more like a '(Stop) Talking Points' memo." 

Some Conservative MP's and candidates were privately skeptical that the document even existed.  They said they see all the talking points that come out through the system in Ottawa, and they had not seen this one.  That got us digging around a little further, to discover that this document had now gone through the usual channels in Ottawa.   Normally, all "Talking Points" memos originate within government departments, but are vetted through the Prime Minister's office before they're distributed.  Apparently, that didn't happen with this one.  It originated in the office of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, where a staffer sent it to an aide in another MP's office.  That MP had been getting some questions about the Ezra Levant controversy, and the aide was wondering if the Department of Justice had issued any talking points on this particular issue.  When the aide in that office got the email, he, (or she - we're not going to go any further with identities), apparently thought that in case other MP's had been getting questions about the Levant case, it might be nice to forward the document on.  So it was sent to all of the assistants in Conservative MP's offices.  That means MP's themselves didn't get the actual email unless their staffers thought to pass it on to them.

The unconventional path of this document does leave open just how closely the document actually reflects the position of Cabinet, because there's no clear indication that the "talking points" were ever actually vetted through the Prime Minister's office.
 

Apr. 12th Free Speech Rally

An announcement this week of a big rally coming up on Ottawa  on the free speech issue.  A group of prominent bloggers, including Mark and Connie Fournier of FreeDominion, John Pacheco at SoCon.ca, and the folks at the FreeMarkSteyn website have set Saturday, April 12th at the date for the rally.   They've got a website set up, although they're still lining up speakers for the event.

 

Video of Mike Duffy interviewing Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn hammers the Canadian Human Rights Commission and it’s number one complainant – Richard Warman.

 

 

Watch the video here

 

 

Ezra Levants Comments:

 

Canadian Human Rights Act doesn't apply to Indians

| Permalink | Comments (9) | Trackback

Mark Steyn was interviewed on CTV's Mike Duffy Live today (the video clip hasn't shown up here yet; if I find it, I'll link to it). I hope it portends more appearances by Steyn on Canadian TV.

Needless to say, Steyn made his points vigorously. But the surprise came from Duffy himself: he reminded viewers that the Canadian Human Rights Act does not apply to Canadian Indians. Right now, section 67 of the CHRA explicitly exempts Indian reserves from the application of the law.

This has been a long-time grievance of Aboriginal women, not because they have a hankering to file complaints about "hurt feelings" under the (recently-added) "hate speech" provisions of the Act, but because there has historically existed on many Indian reserves significant, real discrimination -- such as the wholesale disenfranchisement of women who marry non-Indians, cutting them off from government funds and other rights as band members. Unlike for the rest of us who live in a free society, the libertarian solution to discrimination -- simply move on to another restaurant, apartment, job, etc. -- doesn't work when the entire economy, and all property, are owned communally and are apportioned by fiat by chiefs and councils. That's how it works under Canada's Indian Act.

And guess what? Just last week, Liberal MPs tried to delay a Conservative initiative to extend the Canadian Human Rights Act to Indian reserves. Liberal Anita Neville showed the soft bigotry of low expectations, arguing that Indians just aren't culturally ready for the kind of laws that apply to the rest of us.

Ms. Neville said there's "a real ideological divide" over the issue of individual versus collective rights in the repeal legislation. "There doesn't seem to be, on the part of the government, a willingness to respect the tradition of collective rights for First Nations on reserve."

So, in the same week that we have Stephane Dion demanding that his MP, Keith Martin, rescind his private member's motion to remove the "hate messages" provision of the CHRA, Dion's MPs are blocking the entire CHRA from applying to hundreds of thousands of Canadian Aboriginals.

So which is it? Is the Canadian Human Rights Act so sacrosanct that not even a single section can be amended? Or is the Act so unimportant that Canadian Aboriginals can be denied all of its provisions for years to come? Mike Duffy pointed out this contradiction today; I wonder if any other journalists will follow up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Harper No "Man of Courage"

No Apologies Exclusive: Tristan explains why Harper might be a good tactician, but he's no man of "courage"
Posted: February 12, 2008 10:37 PM


"I say again I don't know who wrote these empty talking points, or when. But when every medium in the country, from the Globe and Mail to the Toronto Star to the National Post, are united in calling for an amendment of section 13, surely a little bit of political courage can be expected from a government calling itself Conservative."
Ezra Levant

I don't know him that well, but if there is anyone who's earned the right to criticize Canada's Conservative government it is Ezra Levant.

Well okay, Mark Steyn too. But Mark lives in the U.S.  Ezra on the other hand, is fighting for free speech in the heart of the war zone - Canada.

He's a proven leader and a courageous man.

But one of the things he wrote above kind of stuck in my craw.

Ezra used the word "courage" to describe what he hopes will be the Conservative government's response to the rogue CHRC.

The context of Ezra's comment has to do with a memo from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson that was circulating on Parliament Hill late last week.  We broke that story here at NoApologies.ca.  The circular outlined the government's strategy in dealing with media and constituent questions if the issue of the Canadian Human Rights Commission were to come up. 

The Harper government's basic approach as outlined in that memo? Say nothing, and hope we don't get pushed to the wall on this.  
 
Someone suggested on FreeDominion.ca that this is a deliberate strategy on Stephen Harper's part because he "doesn't trust the media."  That this is strictly a media ploy, and that Harper actually has a secret plan to enact a policy to deal with the CHRC while safeguarding his potential majority government in the next federal election.  For the record, I don't believe that for a minute...

Read More: http://www.noapologies.ca/2008/02/harper-no-man-of-courage.html

 

 

[VIDEO] For Our People: Canadian Free Speech Champion BERNARD KLATT

For Our People: Canadian Free Speech Champion BERNARD KLATT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q6MDZCTzfU

Internet Expert and champion for freedom of speech in Canada - Bernard KLATT wins the 2007 George Orwell Award. This prestigious award is from the Canadian Free Speech League. This show details the political life of Bernard Klatt from his expert testimony to being harassed by CSIS. (Photos of CSIS agents included…)

Paul Fromm For Our People:

http://www.youtube.com/CanadaFirst2007

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Conservatives "Talking Points" on Section 13.

 

http://www.noapologies.ca/2008/02/news-for-feb-12-08.html

 

No Political Will on Free Speech

It appears the Harper government doesn't have the political stomach right now to engage in any kind of major defense of free speech rights in Canada.  NoApologies.ca has obtained a copy of a document circulated to all Conservative MP's from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's office late last week. 
The document is entitled "Talking points re:  CHRA & CHRC", and it basically instructs MP's to keep a very low profile on any discussion surrounding Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  You can see a copy of the confidential paper here.  Liberal MP Keith Martin served notice earlier this month of a motion he wants to bring before Parliament to scrap Section 13(1) of the Act.  This is the section that has been widely criticised for suppressing free speech rights.  Critics say the section is being used by Muslim and gay rights activists to silence anyone who disagrees with them.  The document tells MP's repeatedly to stress the point that the Harper government "is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights", and that the Canadian Human Rights Commission is an "independent agency" that administers the Human Rights Act "without interference from the government."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking points re:  CHRA & CHRC

 

Issue

 

Two human rights cases involving journalists have recently received wide media attention.  Media have focused on section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), which prohibits hate messaging, and its possible effects on freedom of expression. 

 

Some groups are urging the government to repeal or amend s. 13 of the CHRA.  Liberal MP Keith Martin tabled a private member’s motion on January 30th that s. 13 of the CHRA be deleted from the Act.

 

Proposed Talking Points:

 

Regarding Amending the Human Rights / reforming of the Commission and Tribunal process / section 13 (hate messages):

 

·        The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.

·        Canada’s record on human rights is second to none. It is a record for which all Canadians can be proud.

·        Our government is currently taking steps to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act.  Bill C-21 (being considered by the Standing Committee) repeals section 67 of the CHRA.  Repealing section 67 is a priority for the government at this time and we are working hard to see this bill pass.

·        The Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are independent agencies that administer the Canadian Human Rights Act, according to procedures specified by the law, without interference from the government.

·        The Department of Justice continues to monitor the Commission and Tribunal to ensure that our human rights system remains effective.

 

Section 13 background

 

Enacted in 1977, the original purpose of s.13 was to deal with “telephone hate lines”.  The legislation was extended in 2001 to cover hate messaging on the Internet (s. 13(2)).

 

Section 13 provides:

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.

 

Regarding MP Keith Martin’s (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) Private Member’s Motion M-446: “That, in the opinion of the House, subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act should be deleted from the Act.”

·        This Government values the contributions of all members of Parliament. Motion M-446 was just recently tabled and will not be up for debate in the near future.

·        I can assure you that when this Bill comes before the house for debate, I will follow it closely and will arrive at a position at that time.

 

If asked about the Steyn / Levant cases:

 

·        It is not appropriate for me to comment on particular matters that might be before the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

·        The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.

 

 

If asked about the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and its process:

 

  • Refer letter writer to the CHRC’s website which has very detailed information pertaining to its mandate, discrimination and harassment, dispute resolution and much more:  http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/about/default-en.asp

 

  • Refer to our department’s description of the CHRC: 

 

    • " The Canadian Human Rights Commission, an independent body that operates at arm’s length from the Government of Canada, administers the Canadian Human Rights Act and reports to Parliament independently. The Commission investigates and tries to settle complaints of discrimination in employment and in the provision of services within federal jurisdiction. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is obliged to respect the Commission’s independence without interfering in its normal course of operations."

 

Regarding Canadian Human Rights and First Nations – Repeal Section 67 of CHRA:

 

·        The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, introduced Bill C-21 in November, which proposes to repeal Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

 

·        Repeal of Section was one of the recommendations made in the La Forest Report.

 

·        The Repeal of Section 67 would ensure that the Canadian Human Rights Act and its anti-discrimination protections apply fully to First Nations communities.

 

·        My Canada includes First Nations.

Background on C-21

·        C-21 will repeal S. 67 of the CHRA.

·        S. 67 provides:

67. Nothing in this Act affects any provision of the Indian Act or any provision made under or pursuant to that Act

·        Section 67 of the CHRA has prevented First Nations people from receiving the same legal protection against discrimination that is afforded to all other Canadians.

·        Section 67 was originally intended to be a temporary measure that would allow the government to consult with First Nations. Thirty years later it is still in place, and continues to prevent First Nations people governed by the Indian Act from receiving the same human rights protection that is afforded to all other Canadians.