Her insistence that the Wildrose party would “ban speech that advocates acts of violence or promotes hatred of any individual or group” represented a significant break with a resolution voted on by her party just last year.
An overwhelming majority of members at Wildrose’s annual meeting vowed to “amend the Alberta Human Rights Act to unequivocally protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press” after witnessing too many cases of politically incorrect journalists and preachers getting snagged in the act’s broad net, and legally steamrolled by an unchecked Human Rights Commission (HRC) determined to snuff out the phenomenon of hurt feelings. But Ms. Smith is just the latest in a pageant of politicians that have pushed back against their parties in getting tough on HRCs.
When even the most avowed conservative party leader looks at the prospect of stripping down human rights rules to categorically protect all kinds of speech, even the unpleasant sort, they all, it seems, ultimately get an irresistible chill in their feet.
Awesome quote from actual professor (who I hope has tenure):
“I simply don’t think there’s any evidence at all that minority communities, especially today, need this kind of protection.
It might have been true back when the Chinese indentured labourers were building the CPR.
But not when they’re building McMansions in Vancouver.”
A Tory MP plans to introduce legislation as early as Friday calling for the repeal of a section in the federal human rights code banning hate speech over the Internet.
ALSO (read it while you can; I expect this NatPo primer will be edited later today or pulled outright):
Section 13 does not protect hurt feelings. It prohibits hate speech on the Internet, defined in law as “unusually strong and deep felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification.” But its legal test is strangely subjective. It bans repeated messages that are “likely to expose” identifiable groups to hatred or contempt, and provides for punishments including fines and restrictions on internet usage. Truth is no defence, to prevent tribunals being hijacked by arguments over Holocaust revisionism or the genetic inferiority of blacks.
Me again: Also, the law does “protect hurt feelings” even though it doesn’t actually SAY that (duh!) otherwise what are complainants complaining about?
Back to the piece itself:
Q: Is it true no one has ever been acquitted?
A: Pretty close, at least not until Mr. Lemire, although several cases were withdrawn or settled. Hate speech represents only about 2% of complaints to the CHRC; of the 71 or so filed since 2001, 33 were referred to the tribunal. Of the roughly 20 that have been decided, all but two were brought by Richard Warman, an activist lawyer and former CHRC employee.
Q: Can he do that, even though he was not a target of the hate speech?
A: Yes, and successfully. As a complainant, he does not have to be personally victimized by the hate messages. Anyone can launch a Section 13 complaint, and the Commission is bound to investigate and will often carry the case through the tribunal on the complainant’s behalf.
In one non-Warman case, a complainant was only identified as “firstname.lastname@example.org.” This policy has led to criticism the tribunal process is too easily exploited by complainants with ulterior motives.
Q: Can’t the CHRC find cases by itself? Doesn’t it have the Internet?
A: In theory, yes, it can launch cases on its own, but in practice, no, it doesn’t.
Mr. Warman has described himself as doing the work the CHRC is unwilling or unable to do on its own, and he has been criticized for working with CHRC investigators even before a complaint is laid.
Most controversially, he has posed as a racist on websites to seek out details of potential targets.
A 2009 tribunal ruling, which upheld his complaint against Jason Ouwendyk, a London, Ont., white nationalist, also criticized Mr. Warman for “disappointing and disturbing” online behaviour, including posting hate messages written by others that “could have precipitated further hate messages.”