...The policy indicates that the commission will use investigation, mediation and conciliation to resolve complaints and get hate messages removed as quickly as possible. When Section 13 disputes end up at the Human Rights Tribunal, the commission says it will ask not for penalties but for a cease-and-desist order forcing the message’s removal.The ability to censor is a very powerful power indeed. Remove that particular arrow from the CHRC quiver, and it is much less of a force to be reckoned with. Which, pace the Ceej CEO and his fondness for good intentions, is the second most compelling reason to get rid of Section 13. The most compelling reason, of course, is that state censorship has no place in a free, open and democratic nation.
However, many critics view section 13 as a violation of the rights to free speech and self-expression guaranteed under the Charter. In September 2009, in Warman v. Lemire,  C.H.R.T.D. No. 26, the Human Rights Tribunal agreed with the critics and ruled section 13 unconstitutional. The case is being appealed at the Federal Court. Many believe that this case struck a major blow at the foundation of Canadian hate speech controls and placed the future of Section 13 in doubt, which prompted the commission to develop its new policy on the interpretation of section 13 of the CHRA.
Stephen Harper (in Newsmagazine, January 11, 1999) has called the human rights commissions control over hate speech “totalitarianism.” Opposition to section 13 is growing; for example, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has applied for intervener status in the Lemire constitutional challenge in support of free speech, and to end Internet censorship.
Supporters of keeping the provision, such as Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, say it’s a necessary limit on free speech because the intent is to curb discrimination.
But the commission is clearly not going to give up its power to rein in hate messages without a fight. In substance and tone, the commission’s new policy tries to recognize and respect the sensitivity of the free speech implications involved; but it also signals the commission’s firm intention to enforce Section 13 unless and until it’s ordered not to.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Fight the Power (of the CHRC)
A legal expert analyzes the CHRC's latest thinking on censorship (my bolds):