It seems that the hammer used to attack free expression through our human rights agencies is Section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).
Section 13 (1) says in part that:
It is a discriminatory practice … to communicate … 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.
The original purpose of Section 13 (1) of CHRA was to overcome discrimination; not to censor speech. That was then, but despite best intentions, it now seems that Section 13 (1) is being used by minority groups and human rights agencies to control the expression of opinion and emotion.
Apparently and bizarrely so, truth is not a defence to a complaint under Section 13 (1) of the CHRA, even though such defences are available in tort actions. The rationale is that the prohibition on discrimination is concerned with adverse effects, not with intent.
Keith Martin, the Liberal Party member of parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca has introduced a private member’s motion, M-446, to delete Section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. As I understand the situation, however, a political party must take up M-446 and support or it will languish without a vote.
The damage being done to our democracy would seem to be obvious to anyone reading our newspapers—the Mark Steyn/Maclean’s and Levant cases were widely publicized—so I hope this issue will soon be championed in parliament.