Tag Archives: Section 13

Supreme Court of Canada rules that politically incorrect speech is a criminal offense

Political map of Canada
Political map of Canada

Canada is hostile to free speech, as shown in the recent Supreme Court decision.

Excerpt:

Canada’s top court has released a unanimous decision today that critics say has struck a monumental blow against freedom of speech, opinion, and religion across the country. The court ordered the defendant, a Christian pro-family activist with a reputation for intense activism, not only to pay a fine, but also to pay court costs which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[…]In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, the Supreme Court decided that born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech for distributing flyers to neighborhoods in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. While the flyers used vehement language against homosexual practices and the homosexual agenda, they did not directly attack homosexual persons.

[…]The Court focused on Whatcott’s main argument, namely that he loves homosexuals with a brotherly Christian love, and it is only their sexual activity that he denounces.

But the Supreme Court found that with regards to hate speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies.

“I agree that sexual orientation and sexual behaviour can be differentiated for certain purposes,” the Court stated. “However, in instances where hate speech is directed toward behaviour in an effort to mask the true target, the vulnerable group, this distinction should not serve to avoid s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-crime clause of the Code].”

“Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the Court stated.

The Court ordered Whatcott to pay the Human Rights Commission’s legal fees and to pay $7,500 in compensation to two homosexuals who were offended by his flyers.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, called the ruling “very depressing” and “bad news”.

[…]“On the one hand they’re saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no, we’re not really infringing on freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom of opinion’, but in fact, what they say is not what they’ve done,” she said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

Next time we have an election, can we vote in favor of free speech? I don’t agree with anything Whatcott did – form or content. The man is a fool. But I can easily see how this ruling could be used to silence reasonable speech that disagrees with homosexuality and gay marriage on secular grounds. The motivation of these judges is to silence speech critical of the gay agenda, and we should all be concerned about that. They pick these kooks like Whatcott to attack because they won’t get any opposition from normal people. But later you’ll find out that these legal precedents will furnish the foundation for eliminating free speech altogether. It’s happened before.

Apparently, there is some effort to repeal section 13 in Canada, which is the part that criminalizes speech deemed offensive by the political left. That might affect future rulings of the Supreme Court if it is made clear that the right to free speech is absolute.

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By repealing section 13, Canada takes a baby step toward freedom of speech

What is section 13, you ask? Section 13 is the part of Canadian law that makes it illegal for Canadians to offend people on the left. The Conservatives now have a majority, so they’ve voted in the House of Commons to repeal it. But it still isn’t repealed.

Here it is:

“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 person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
— Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act

Here is an example of what Canada did to people with unpopular opinions: (H/T Binks)

Among the more high-profile targets of Canada’s “human rights” zealots was journalist Ezra Levant, who spent 900 days and $100,000 defending himself against “hate speech” charges. As editor of the Western Standardmagazine, Levant in 2006 published some examples of “Muhammad cartoons” to illustrate a news article about the worldwide firestorm touched off by the cartoons when they were originally published in a Danish magazine. A Canadian imam filed a “human rights” complaint, and Levant was dragged into the meat grinder.

“Section 13 has had a brutal effect on free speech in Canada,” Levant told Chalcedon. “It’s not that the number of prosecutions under Section 13 was ever that large. But it made examples of people, and inspired tremendous self-censorship. But now we’re free, and we can say things that are politically incorrect.”

But how free? The “human rights” legislation in Canada’s thirteen provinces is still, so far, intact.

“The provincial human rights machinery remains,” Levant said, “but this, the federal repeal, has got to cast a shadow over those. [Journalist, author, and commentator] Mark Steyn, for instance, was charged in three different jurisdictions for the same ‘offense.’ But now we’re seeing the censorship being challenged in Saskatchawan, and questioned in some other provinces.”

Section 13 over the years, he said, “has attracted bullies to the ‘human rights’ system. Ninety percent of the defendants charged under Section 13 can’t afford a lawyer. And because countersuits are not allowed, there’s no way to recover your legal expenses.”

In Canada’s “human rights” system, the government pays all the plaintiff’s legal costs, but none of the defendant’s. Nor is there any “double jeopardy” rule to prevent a defendant from being tried multiple times for the same incident.

“Except for me – I’m a Jew – no non-Christian has ever been prosecuted by a human rights tribunal,” Levant said. “And the federal Human Rights Commission really enjoyed Section 13! They had a one hundred percent conviction rate over thirty-two years.

A 100% conviction rate!

This something for us to think about. When you meet a secular leftist who complains about being offended by your speech, you should ask yourself the question “how far would he go with that?”. Because in Canada, the secular went very far, indeed. And similarly in the UK and in some European countries.

We should be grateful that we have the first and second amendments, because a lot of people don’t.

Free speech hero Mark Steyn reflects on the demise of Section 13 fascism

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats
Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Kathy Shaidle at Five Feet of Fury linked to this editorial which explains how the battle for free speech was won up in the frozen North.

Excerpt:

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had voiced support for the legislation. So had the Prime Minister. The result, then, was never in doubt: at 9:35 p.m. on June 6, by a vote of 153-136,  Parliament got Canada’s human rights bureaucrats out of the business of policing speech on the Internet. There was a scattering of applause, and handshakes for Storseth (the bill requires the rubber stamp of Senate approval). “To be honest, it’s all a blur,” says the three-term MP, laughing. But if the passage of Bill C-304 represents a fundamental shift in Canadian culture, you’d never have known it that night. Members dealt with a few housekeeping matters, then waded through a supply bill. Finally, one by one, they trickled out into the cool Ottawa night.

The effect of killing Section 13 will be debated for years among anti-racist groups and civil libertarians. But it is undoubtedly a turning point. Since 1999, Canadians who felt aggrieved by material transmitted online have been encouraged to seek redress under federal human rights law, which targeted material “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation. Storseth’s bill repeals the provision outright, leaving the Criminal Code as the primary bulwark against the dissemination of hate propaganda by electronic means.

With it will go one of the most divisive disputes to grip the country since the introduction of the Charter of Rights itself—a contest of values that over the past five years has pitted Canadians’ desire to protect minorities from discrimination against the bedrock principle of free speech. Mainstream media outlets, most notably Maclean’s, have been hauled before commissions to answer for their published content. The commissions themselves have come under fire for allowing their processes to be used as a bludgeon against legitimate expression, tailored as they are to encourage complainants to come forward. Meantime, a Saskatchewan law similar to Section 13 has become the subject of a Supreme Court challenge that could invalidate hate-speech provisions in most provincial human rights codes. By year’s end, it is conceivable that no human rights commission in the country will be in the business of adjudicating published material.

And here’s a must-read cri-de-coeur from free speech hero Mark Steyn in Maclean’s magazine. (H/T Binks the Web Elf)

Excerpt:

Operationally, Section 13 was stinkingly corrupt. There are some 34 million Canadians, yet just one individual citizen had his name on almost every Section 13 prosecution of the last decade. Just as Matthew Hopkins appointed himself England’s Witchfinder General in 1645 and went around the country turning in raven-tressed crones for the bounty of a pound per witch, so Richard Warman appointed himself Canada’s Hatefinder General and went around turning in shaven-headed tattooed losers in their mums’ basements for far more lucrative bounties of tens of thousands of dollars. He filed his complaints as a supposedly “offended” and “damaged” private citizen while an employee of Her Majesty’s Government. And, in fairness to Matthew Hopkins, he didn’t personally put on a pointy black hat and ride around on a broomstick. Whereas Mr. Warman joined Stormfront and other “white supremacist” websites and posted copious amounts of hate speech of his own, describing, for example, Jewish members of cabinet as “scum” and gays as a “cancer.” That’s how “hateful” Canada is: there’s so little “hate” out there that the country’s most famous Internet Nazi is a taxpayer-funded civil servant.

For Warman, there was little risk: you paid his costs, and the dice were loaded. After Hosni Mubarak was “re-elected” with 97.1 per cent of the vote, he was said to be furious with his officials for stealing too much of the election and making him look like one of those crude ham-fisted dictator-for-life types like Saddam and Kim Il-Sung. So next time round his officials arranged for him to “win” with a mere 96.3 per cent of the vote. Canada’s “human rights” commissars had no such squeamishness: until the tenacious Marc Lemire won his landmark victory in 2009, Section 13 prosecutions had a three-decade 100 per cent conviction rate even the Soviets might envy.

That wasn’t even the most basic affront. Until Maclean’s intervened in 2008, Lemire’s Section 13 trial was scheduled to be held in secret. I couldn’t quite believe this when I chanced to happen upon the “judge’s” rationale, and I suggested en passant that we should get Maclean’s estimable QC Julian Porter to file a whatchamacallit, a brief or motion or whatever, referencing precedents and other jurisprudential-type stuff, and put a rocket up these totalitarian buggers by treating their dank outhouse of pseudo-justice as a real courtroom subject to real law. Secret trials are for Beijing and Tehran, yet in the name of “human rights” they were introduced to Ottawa.

The line that sums up my objection to the racket was formulated by the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle: “You’re too stupid to tell me what to think.” In recent days, the last lonely defenders of the Canadian thought police have all volunteered to demonstrate Miss Shaidle’s proposition. The Opposition [NDP] critic for “public safety,” Randall Garrison, bemoaned the demise of the commissars’ “power to educate Canadians.” “We do have a serious problem,” said Garrison. “If you take away the power to take [websites] down, it’s not clear they have any mandate to even talk to people about it and educate them about it.”

The Conservatives held up their end of the deal once they got their majority, didn’t they? Everyone who said they were not going to do anything with their majority should hang their heads in shame, now. They can’t do everything, but they can certainly do some things.

This is a lesson for us down here. If you love your country, then get out and vote in November! And make sure your friends vote, too – you should be convincing them to vote by giving them the facts about Obama’s catastrophic failures even now.

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