OTTAWA, February 1, 2008 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) today commented on the private members’ motion M-446, brought forward by Keith Martin, MP (Esquimalt-Juan De Fuca) that would delete sub-section 13 (1) from the Canadian Human Rights Act. This is the section that makes it an offence to communicate telephonically (including via Internet) “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred and/or contempt” based on prohibited grounds of discrimination such as race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, among other grounds.
“We have already written to the minister of justice and the prime minister to encourage a clarification in human rights’ legislation that would protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “Whether this is done through the re-examination of sub-section 13 or through some other legislative remedy, the League supports respectful but open debate on social and religious issues.”
There is no doubt that some of the cases brought before human rights’ commissions under Section 13 do not involve discrimination at all, but rather the expression of opinion. The League has helped publicize those cases involving the expression of opinion based on religious belief.
The Charter rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, in practice, sometimes mean that some people are going to see or hear things that offend them, or with which they do not agree. There are many ways in which they can respond to this. The League, for example, has a track record going back more than 20 years of combating anti-Catholic defamation through dialogue with the media, without recourse to human rights commission filings.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) 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. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada.
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For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org