Conservative MP’s bill to repeal Section 13 moves to committee

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats
Canada 2011 Federal Election Results

Andrew sent me this article from the Chronicle Herald.


To protect freedom of expression in Canada, sometimes you need a majority government in Ottawa.

That’s the moral of the story of a Conservative backbencher’s private member’s bill — which has now cleared second reading in the House of Commons and gone to committee — seeking to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Let’s recall the exact wording of that infamous clause. Hate messages, according to Section 13 (1), are communications “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.”

In other words, if I were to write something critical about Islam, for example, and someone reading my column felt it “likely” that my words could provoke “contempt” towards Muslims, they could lodge a complaint against me with one of Canada’s government-created human rights commissions.

Truth would not be a defence. Neither would my intent. And the person complaining wouldn’t even have to be a Muslim.

That’s because, on top of the appallingly loose wording of this section of federal human rights law — a clause echoed in its provincial counterparts — any complaints are adjudicated by government-appointed tribunals, where the standard protections afforded any accused in a court of law don’t necessarily apply.

When complainants’ cases go forward, taxpayers pick up the tab. Meanwhile, those accused must pay to defend themselves out of their own pockets.

It’s a system ripe for abuse. And that’s exactly what has happened. We’ve seen comics fined for insulting hecklers (B.C. human rights tribunal), former publishers spend $100,000 in legal fees over three years to defend themselves for printing “offensive” cartoons (Alberta human rights commission), and Maclean’s magazine investigated by three human rights bodies (federal, Ontario and B.C.) for running an article on Muslim demographics in Europe.

The Conservatives have long opposed Section 13, but didn’t feel they had the support they needed from the other parties, as a minority government, to push the issue legislatively.

They also were concerned, with good reason, that some opponents might twist the issue for political advantage, slamming the Tories for being soft on hate.

Yes, Bill C-304, which aims to repeal Sections 13 and 54 (dealing with penalties under S.13), was put forward by Alberta MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul) and is a private member’s bill, but the legislation has the justice minister’s endorsement. So there’s a good chance the bill will be back in the Commons this spring for final reading, then on to the Senate and, hopefully, passage and royal assent.

The bill, if made law, would take effect a year after receiving royal assent.

Canada does not protect free speech right now. Repealing Section 13 would be good, but Canada is not a good place for families to raise children. Even if they get Section 13 repealed, there is still the recent unanimous Supreme Court decision affirming that the provincial governments have a right to decide what children will believe – not parents. The Supreme Court was mostly selected by the previous Liberal governments.

3 thoughts on “Conservative MP’s bill to repeal Section 13 moves to committee”

  1. I’m a tad bit concerned with what’s going to happen in BC next election. The current BC Liberal government (who are close to the Federal Conservatives) has fallen way out of favour and the NDP is poised to take control.

    However, the dissatisfaction with the BC Liberals has also produced a surge in growth for the somewhat recent BC Conservative party. I’m hoping they get a large chunk of seats.

    Currently we’re planning to homeschool our children, and the curriculum is up to us (looking to use the classical education model – grammar, logic and rhetoric). If the government encroaches on that, we might just hightail it outta here to Idaho.


    1. Is the BC carbon tax very popular? Because I cannot imagine that the NDP will do any better on issues like that, and I thought it was unpopular.


      And today:

      There is no doubt in my mind that NDP would retain this craptastic tax if they were elected. But maybe you need to go through a decade in the wilderness like Saskatchewan did before you elect the conservatives. I’m not trying to be mean.


      1. Heh, with you on the Conservatives. They weren’t even on the radar until last year. Anything could happen though. :)

        Haven’t yet read the links you posted, but the Carbon Tax, when it was introduced, was highly unpopular – at least at a consumer level. I can’t speak for businesses. However, it was implemented when gas prices were at an all time high ($1.50/l).

        Carol James (NDP head at the time) jumped on the hatred towards the tax and used it to get potential votes, campaigning to “Axe-the-Tax”. Got her some momentum up north, where everyone drives massive pick-up trucks that cost $200 to fill. But by the time the election season came around, gas had dropped to below a dollar, and people (read: consumers) really didn’t care anymore. James wouldn’t change her platform, so she fell out of favour with all the Greens (this is BC; that’s a lot of people).

        If any businesses didn’t like the carbon tax, it was the lesser of two evils compared to the NDP, who is still living in the shadow of nearly destroying the province in the 90s.

        That was my observation at the time. I like to think I’m more politics-savvy now. That’s just how it played out in my eyes.

        The whole debacle with the HST just destroyed both parties though. I’m anxious, excited, and a bit worried for the next election. Definitely voting Conservative.


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