PEN Canada, which is by no means a conservative organization, has joined the chorus of voices who are calling for eliminating parts of the Canadian Human Rights Act dealing with hate speech, the same law that has Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant before Human Rights Commissions.
The statement is in PDF format, but I'm reprinting the whole thing. If you don't want to read it in it's entirety, I've highlighted the best parts and I have more about what this means at the bottom of this post.
PEN Canada calls for changes to human rights commission legislation
February 4, 2008 -- PEN Canada calls on the federal and provincial governments
to change human rights commission legislation to ensure commissions can no
longer be used to attempt to restrict freedom of expression in Canada.
Recent complaints in Alberta against journalist Ezra Levant and in Ontario
against Maclean’s magazine and its writer Mark Steyn raise disturbing questions
about the degree to which human rights commissions have taken it upon
themselves to become arbiters of what constitutes free speech.
PEN Canada believes this is not the role of human rights commissions and that
governments across the country need to make that clear both to their
commissions and to Canadians.
Neither Mr. Levant nor Maclean’s magazine and Mr Steyn published anything
that incited violence against the Muslim community although both have been
subject of complaints to commissions. Nor did their comments violate anyone’s
As the Canadian Civil LIberties Association has suggested, human rights
legislation was designed to prevent discrimination in workplaces, in accommodation and in providing goods and services to individuals. Commissions were created to adjudicate complaints about such issues when they arose. They were never designed to restrict the free expression of opinions.
“Whether you agree with Mr. Levant’s decision that the Western Standard should
publish the Danish cartoons about the prophet Mohammed or not, no one in a free and democratic country such as Canada can seriously argue the magazine should not have the right to publish them,” said PEN Canada’s national affairs chair Christopher Waddell.
“That is equally true for Maclean’s magazine and the excerpt it published from
Mark Steyn’s book that led to the complaint against that publication.”
Neither complaints should ever have been accepted by a human rights
commission and both should be immediately dismissed.
To ensure there is no repetition of such attempts to constrain freedom of expression through the guise of human rights legislation, PEN supports calls for removal of subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act which states that it is discriminatory when individual or groups say or write anything that is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”
Similar wording in provincial human rights statutes should likewise be removed.
PEN becomes the latest member of the Canadian establishment to say that these human rights commissions have gone too far.
How can critics in Canada continue to suggest this is the work of knuckledragging conservatives?
You now have
2.) The Liberal Toronto Star
3.) The left leaning Globe and Mail
4.) A Liberal MP
All these groups realize the dangers these thought crime laws have on Canada's freedoms.
When will the federal Conservative government step up to the plate and eliminate the Section 13 (1)?