Vote to repeal powers to ban hate speech expected
The bill from Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code, which deals with complaints regarding "the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet."
Storseth argues the current human rights code fails to protect freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and believes Canadians are better off if the government repeals sections 13 and 54 — the latter section dealing with associated penalties.
"We've got the support of the Conservative caucus," Storseth, a backbencher, said in an interview before the vote, expected late Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to continuing to have Conservative caucus support."
He said the current human rights code allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, when the Criminal Code already covers hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group.
Acts of hate speech are serious crimes that should be investigated by police officers, not civil servants, he said, and the cases should be handled by "real judges and real lawyers," instead of a quasi-judicial body like the human rights commission.
Expecting the bill will pass through the House of Commons, Storseth said he has also been speaking with colleagues in the Conservative-dominated Senate in hopes of it quickly receiving royal assent. The bill, should it be approved by Parliament, contains a one-year implementation period.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission says it received 1,914 complaints last year, but has received only three hate speech complaints since 2009. Two of those three complaints were dismissed and one is currently being examined by the quasi-judicial body.