OTTAWA, ON February 16, 2012 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to learn that bill C-304, introduced September 30 by MP Brian Storseth (CPC-Westlock-St. Paul), passed its second reading vote 158-131 February 15 in the House of Commons, and has been sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for study. If it passes a third and final reading following the committee’s report, it will repeal the section of the federal human rights code banning hate speech over the Internet.

Because Section 13 has been used to penalize the peaceable expression of opinion based on religious belief, the League has long supported efforts to rescind or significantly re-interpret it to protect freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The case against Catholic Insight magazine is just one instance where the Section, and similar provisions in provincial human rights codes, has been used to penalize the peaceful expression of opinion based on religious belief.

“The hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code provide limits on expression that are sufficient in a democracy,” says Joanne McGarry, League executive director. “A situation where accusers are free to file complaints that may even lack a serious basis, and then leave the accused to pay his or her own potentially high costs in response, is unacceptable. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are both Charter rights, and any limitation on them belongs in Parliament and the courts, not administrative tribunals.”

Text of Bill C-304
League supports repeal of Internet hate law, October 3, 2011
League intervenes in hate speech case, October 13, 2011
Review of Section 13 greatly needed, says League, February 13, 2009