Bill C-304 repeals Canadian Human Rights Act Hate Speech Provision

August 29th, 2013 by Dan Stone

The Canadian Human Rights Act Hate Speech Provision

This blog is written by our law summer student, Michelle Farb.

Bill C-304 repeals Canadian Human Rights Act Hate Speech ProvisionWith the Senate’s approval of the private member’s Bill C-304 last week, the broadly-worded “hate speech provision,” found in section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, was repealed.

This section made it a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to repeatedly communicate by way of the computer, telephone, internet or by any other similar means of communication, “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.”

The purpose of Section 13 was to help minority groups combat discrimination and achieve equality. However, the section was thought to be an ineffective and inefficient way to address hate speech in Canada. The Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association stated that the Section imposed “a chill on expression that is controversial and perhaps even offensive, but not necessarily hateful”. Many of the more subtle forms of hateful or offensive messaging were not caught by the section, only the more extreme types of blatant speech.

The passing of the Bill is seen as a victory to many free-speech advocates, as the section has been long criticized as being overly restrictive. The repeal will take effect after a one-year phase-in period.

Bill C-304 repeals Canadian Human Rights Act Hate Speech Provision, the passing of the Bill is seen as a victory to many free-speech advocates, as the section has been long criticized as being overly restrictive.

To learn more about our Human Rights lawyer, Marty Rabinovitch, please visit his profile page.


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