Internet-based Hate Speech Removed From Federal Act

Human Rights

Human Rights

Late last month, the House of Commons passed a private member’s bill, Bill C‑304, to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). It repeals Section 13(1), a “hate speech” clause.

The bill was tabled by Brian Storseth, a Conservative MP from Alberta.

The Human Rights Act applies to inter-provincial telecommunications facilities, including Internet communications. The repealed section states that a person or group of persons who engages in repeated communications, through telecommunications facilities, that would likely expose a person or group to hatred or contempt based on a prohibited ground of discrimination, is engaging in discriminatory practices.

Criminal Code provisions remain, with the criminal standard of proof.

In its submission to the Senate hearings on the bill, the Canadian Bar Association noted
that Section 13(1) offered protection to individuals and groups who are the target of hate speech that does not meet the criminal law standard. This includes “psychological harm caused by the dissemination of racial views which inevitably result in prejudice, discrimination and the potential of physical violence.”

The legislative change leaves the door open for more such internet items as the “Beat up Anita Sarkeesian” video game, which originated in Ontario. Sarkeesian had written about misogyny in video games.

A thorough discussion of the issue is available at

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