Friday, September 30, 2011

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Conservative MP's bill takes aim at hate speech provisions

Conservative MP's bill takes aim at hate speech provisions


By Jason Fekete, Postmedia News September 30, 2011 7:01 PM



"Everybody has some concerns" about the regulation of hate speech: Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

OTTAWA — A Conservative backbench MP from Alberta believes a majority of his caucus colleagues will support his private member's bill that would repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech over the telephone or Internet.

Tory MP Brian Storseth introduced Friday in the House of Commons a bill that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code dealing with complaints regarding "the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet."

He said he believes the current human rights code fails to protect freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and insists Canadians are better off if the government repeals sections 13 and 54 — the latter section deals with associated penalties.

The code as it currently reads allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, he said, when hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group is already covered by the Criminal Code.

"Freedom of speech is the freedom that all other freedoms are built on. It cannot be restrained to the politically correct," Storseth, MP for Westlock—St. Paul, said Friday as he introduced Bill C-304.

"The best way to fight bigotry is to ensure that we protect and enhance our fundamental freedoms in this great country of ours."

Conservative caucus chairman Guy Lauzon said the private member's bill "hasn't even come near caucus." However, he figures Storseth has canvassed a large number of Tory MPs for their support — otherwise he probably wouldn't have introduced the bill.

"There's no point putting something forward if it's not going to carry, so I'm sure that Brian has done that," Lauzon said. "Personally, I like his bill."