Hate-speech law violates Charter rights, tribunal rules
A federal law governing hate speech violates Canadians’ charter rights to freedom of expression, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.
The development could give more ammunition to those who complain that the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which refers cases to the tribunal, is engaging in censorship by attempting to restrict what people say on the Internet.
The decision, released in Ottawa Wednesday, also seems to call into question whether the tribunal should be involved at all in policing online content through Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Advocates call the law a necessary control on hate speech in an age where the Internet makes the spread of messages easier and faster. Opponents say it’s censorship and has no place in a free society.
In 2008, Prof. Moon [University of Windsor law professor] wrote a report for the CHRC about the role of Section 13 in the Internet age that said the law should be repealed. He wrote that Internet use means that “any attempt to exclude all racial or other prejudice from the public discourse would require extraordinary intervention by the state.”