I used to support the hate crimes/hate speech laws here. But after the cartoon fiasco and Islamic groups suing Macleans magazine because macleans wouldn't give into their every whim and demand, I have changed to the American idea of free speech in absolute terms.
I'm kind of the opposite ~ I used to be vehemently against our hate crime/speech laws, but now I generally support them (that guy in Nova Scotia who was successfully convicted of a hate crime for burning a cross on someone's lawn? I totally support that being criminalized as a 'hate crime').......
BUT, I say all this given that the case you mentioned above (and every other similar case) has lost in court, as it should have.
I guess it will take an egregious/bogus case that wins to turn me around.
a) that was one individual being an idiot, it is not representative of the human rights commission system as a whole.
b) they are decidedly NOT courts - they are commissions which have the power to convene tribunals for offences under the provincial or federal Human Rights Acts/Codes. They are subject to judicial review and ultimately it is the courts which have the final say.
c) if you want a case which does illustrate an overreach, this is the one I would use
. I fully expect the ruling to be overturned on appeal, however.
As AxeGrrl said, generally the right decisions come out of these tribunals. In fact, under the current Supreme Court and McLachlin, freedom of speech has been fairly widely upheld and when convictions have been upheld (Keegstra
, and Taylor
being the leading cases) I think generally the population has felt that it was correct. Decisions like Sharpe
show that edge cases are generally resolved in favour of speech.
EDIT: I looked into the claim of a 100% "conviction" rate under s.13(1) of the Human Rights Act
(I assume that's what she meant by 13.1) - here are the cases in question
. There haven't been a lot of cases, and I can't see any there which I would disagree with (although I didn't look in detail at all of them - just a quick look). Defendants range from noted anti-Semite Ernst Zundel, the Manitoba KKK, the Canadian Heritage Alliance - an innocuous sounding white supremacist group, and other similar hate groups. My guess for the reason behind the large "conviction" rate (and note that these are not convictions, simply adverse rulings) is because claims which are unlikely to proceed are denied a hearing at the pre-tribunal process, i.e. it's more a reporting bias than a true representation of the state of things. I have no doubt that if all claims were included, the "conviction" rate would be very, very small indeed.