Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Scrap Section 13! Leave it to the Criminal Code alone (Windsor Star)

"Section 13 suppresses the basic right to freedom of speech in our society that is guaranteed under the charter of rights and freedoms," he said. "We need to have some reasonable tests of harm in our society and I believe the Criminal Code looks after that and ensures that Canadians aren't targeted by hatred."

Storseth should have the support of the Harper government, and we assume many Liberals will also be on board. In 2008, just after law professor Peter Moon concluded the section should be removed, then Liberal MP Keith Martin introduced his own private member's bill seeking to have the hate-speech section repealed.

Moon had prepared the report at the request of the human rights commission, but his recommendation was never followed. Martin's bill went nowhere.

Over the last decade, the process has been proven flawed and unfair.

First, the human rights tribunal decides if a complaint is valid or frivolous, and it doesn't have to explain its reasoning. Nor is there a presumption of innocence going in to a hearing.

A complainant pays nothing to appear; a defendant is responsible for all his or her costs.

Those laying a complaint can remain anonymous, which means the accused never gets to exercise the fundamental right to stand before the accuser.

And successfully appealing a decision is virtually impossible for a defendant.

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