Thu, 06 Mar 2003 11:25:19 -0400
Russell Turpin wrote:
> Owen Byrne:
>> We have this: "(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and
>> expression." It would be better without this: "Parliament or the
>> legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act
>> .. shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 ..
>> of this Charter."
> Those fundamental rights sound good, and the
> exception IS unfortunate.
>> but the "notwithstanding" clause has not been invoked yet.
> How, then, does Canada have a hate speech law?
> Here in the US, such laws are unconstitutional,
> since hate speech pretty clearly is a form of
This part is probably somewhat unfortunate too:
*1. *The /Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms/ guarantees the
rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits
prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
guarantees all Canadians freedom of thought, belief, opinion and
expression. That means we're all free to say what we think. But what
about statements that are hateful and racist? Where does free speech
stop and hate crime start?
The Supreme Court of Canada asked this question in 1990. An Alberta high
school teacher named James Keegstra was found guilty of the crime of
"wilful promotion of hatred
Keegstra made many racist statements to his students, and parents
complained about his teaching. Keegstra said the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms protected his right to say these things.
The Supreme Court looked at the section of the Criminal Code that makes
it a crime to wilfully promote hatred. The Court said the crime does
take away people's freedom of speech - because it doesn't let them say
things that encourage others to hate people because of their race,
colour, religion or ethnic origin.
Section 1 means that a law which limits free speech is okay so long as:
* It's a reasonable limit on free speech; and
* The limit is justified in a free and democractic society.
The Supreme Court said that there are a number of reasons why limiting
hateful speech makes sense.
* Hate propaganda harms all of us.
* Stopping the spread of hate propaganda makes it easier for people
with different backgrounds to live together.
* Stopping hate propaganda may even reduce violence in Canada.
Because of these reasons, the Supreme Court said that section 1 of the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms "saves" the crime of wilfully promoting
hatred. In other words, the Court said Keegstra had broken the law. Even
though the law limits his right to free speech, it's a reasonable limit.
Democratic societies must stop the spread of hate propaganda so everyone
can live freely.
But the government has to be really careful about how it limits free
speech. The Supreme Court of Canada looked at the crime of "spreading
in the case of Ernst Zundel
They decided that the crime was too broad a limit of free speech. So
even though Zundel published things which weren't true about the
Holocaust, he wasn't guilty of a crime. His right to free speech was
protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.