Support for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) is snowballing. Those in favour range from the liberal Toronto Star to the conservative National Post and liberal Globe and Mail to the conservative Toronto Sun, and several other media organizations across the country. (Ezra Levant, the free-speech advocate, has a more extensive list of supporters here.)
Yesterday, veteran newspaperman and one of the founders of Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington, added his call to “End threat to free speech.”
Then there is the grass roots of the Conservative Party, who recently made this official party policy, and Liberal MP Keith Martin who has made a couple of private member’s motions on the subject. And, of course, we have law professor Richard Moon’s report recommending that Section 13 be repealed. So wide support is there.
But so what? Without government action, all we have is a bunch of fine-sounding words. And, frankly, I don’t see government action anywhere on the horizon.
Tinkering with human rights legislation is like tinkering with arts funding, and we all know where that got us.
The very Liberals who support, in private, the repeal of Section 13 will be among the first to “spin” government action in a negative way, if they see a chance to pick up votes in, say, the Jewish and Muslim communities, where support for keeping Section 13 intact is strongest.
And as for the NDP: they are so dedicated to political correctness, and pandering to minorities to get their votes that they'll not likely support removing hate speech from under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission notwithstanding that it’s the right thing to do.
Not everyone cares about free speech, at least, not enough to upset the apple cart that is political power. Repealing Section 13 may well turn out to be small change in a high-stakes poker game.
But, you know, even the staunchest conservative voter may well decide not to continue to vote for a party that deliberately ducks sticking up for traditional conservative values like the protection of free expression.