An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom)

While not related to Copyright, I wanted to mention bill C-304 which I have been following.

Among other things, it repeals section 13 of of the Canadian Human Rights Act, something I am strongly in favor of.

That section of the act currently says:

Hate messages

13. (1) 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 that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.

(3) For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter.

R.S., 1985, c. H-6, s. 13;
2001, c. 41, s. 88.

While I recognize that there are different points of view on this, I believe we should not invoke the Streisand effect and draw attention to (and thus promote) hateful speech by trying to censor it. I'm not sure if this section came into effect in 1985, but it clearly pre-dates modern communications technology such as the Internet and is extremely counter productive.

Trust me when I say that I am not a supporter of hate speech, or of the political views of those who spread such speech. As someone in a mixed marriage I am the type of person that these types of folks love to hate. I just believe that these laws, and the people who may have been abusing them, are very counter-productive to the cause of protecting us from harm.

I hope that after the government cleans up this antiquated aspect of our Human Rights Act that they will get to work with the provinces to clean up defamation law which is similarly outdated. As a politically active person online for decades I have received threats from lawyers for speech that is no more harsh than the language we see in Question Period in the house of commons every sitting day, or in any political news show. We need to take this weapon away from people who will abuse it to stifle legitimate political speech.