Toronto, ON March 14, 2024 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) shares the concerns of Canadians regarding two pieces of legislation: Bill C-367 introduced last November; and Bill C-63, introduced on February 26, 2024, as the Online Harms Act.

The CCRL calls for the immediate dismissal of Bill C-367.  It proposes to repeal possible legal defences based on religious motivations to anti-hate criminal prosecutions.  These defence provisions were key to the original introduction of hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code.  It is not hard to imagine that gender ideology advocates, among others, would be prepared to press for hate charges against individuals who merely expressed positions on moral issues according to scriptural texts, or religious teachings.

Phil Horgan, CCRL President and Legal Counsel recently told the Catholic Register:

An effort to exclude sincerely held religious beliefs would conceivably hold Pope Francis open to hate speech prosecution, with his very recent comments in opposition to gender ideology, for example,” said Horgan. “Potentially any Catholic could face hate speech prosecutions merely for taking a religiously based or scripturally referenced opposition to transgenderism or perhaps to sexual practices deemed sinful to the Church. “Is it the intention of Parliament to hold the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a hate speech screed?”

Promoters of Bill C-63 have tried to focus on measures to safeguard children, especially from:

  • Content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor;
  • Intimate content communicated without consent;
  • Content used to bully a child; and
  • Content that induces a child to harm themselves.

The League would support most initiatives that would protect children from these evils. The question is whether the creation of a new Digital Safety Commission bureaucracy and ombudsperson to oversee these new legislative features is necessary when the above offences are already covered to some degree in the Criminal Code.

Bill C-63 also entails proposed changes to the Criminal Code on hate speech laws. The League decries what would be a serious overreach into our constitutionally protected freedoms.

In particular, the introduction of “pre-emptive” crimes into our Criminal Code cannot remain a part of the Bill. Imposing criminal sanctions on possible fears of future speech, places punishment before any crime has been committed.

The return of proposed provisions to the Canada Human Rights Act are also of concern.  After a national debate, s. 13 of the Act was eliminated in 2014, owing to the unusual use of such provisions by individual actors to bring complaints against opponents of their worldview under the guise of “hate”.

The late Fr. Alphonse De Valk, former CCRL Exner Award recipient was successful in opposing a “complaint” in 2008 under such circumstances as he was merely writing about Church teaching.

Another proposed suggestion would allow for anonymous complaints to be filed, with possible recovery of a significant award of costs, without having to be identified as a complainant.

The CCRL will monitor developments as they are introduced.  Bills that threaten our cherished constitutional freedoms require explicit and fulsome debate.

We are asking you to help us by donating to the CCRL. As Lent draws to a close, perhaps keep us in mind as a possible almsgiving opportunity.

We look forward to the coming of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, and to the opportunity to celebrate again the resurrection of Our Lord. The demands of our world are in great need of Our Saviour.

We appeal to any of you who are able to send a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at PO Box 84505, RPO Bloor West, Toronto, ON, M6S 4Z7, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244.

About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

To donate to the CCRL, please click here.

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