Liberal MP Keith Martin becomes the first federal politician to attempt to do something about the ability of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate so-called hate speech.
The issue has received international attention due to two recent cases involving Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, who have been investigated by human rights commissions following complaints from Muslims.
The action is surprisingly coming from a Liberal MP, not a Conservative. But Keith Martin, if you recall, had been a long time member of the Conservative party's legacy Reform-Alliance party but defected to the Liberals when it appeared that Paul Martin would win a massive majority in 2003.
Liberal MP Launches Motion to Stop Human Rights Commission Squelching of Free Speech
By Hilary White
OTTAWA, January 31, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A British Columbia Parliamentarian, Keith Martin, has called for the abolition of the clause in the Canadian Human Rights Act that makes it possible for special interest groups to file petty grievance complaints through the Human Rights Commissions.
Martin today presented the motion to Parliament in the face of the ongoing scandals of Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals being used to silence journalists, Christian pastors and political writers on a variety of controversial topics.
The motion states, "That, in the opinion of the House, subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act should be deleted from the Act." Subsection 13(1) makes it a "discriminatory practice" for individuals or groups to communicate messages that are "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt". Critics of this section of the Act have long said that the clause creates the precise equivalent of a "thought crime".
Martin, a medical doctor and pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia Liberal MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, was the former Reform Party's Opposition Health Critic. He left the Canadian Alliance party in 2004 after complaining that the party was allowing "social conservatives" and pro-life members to have a voice in the party.
Confirmation was not available from Martin's office as to whether or not the motion is in response to the current wave of complaints against Canadian journalists, politicians and religious leaders based on subsection 13(1). But a spokesman from Martin's office told LifeSiteNews.com that the publicity surrounding the complaints against Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant by Islamic extremist imams has raised the profile of the issue throughout the country and around the world.
Martin's motion comes as three complaints are ongoing against Ron Gray, head of Canada's Christian Heritage party. These complaints by homosexual activists allege "hatred" and "contempt" against homosexuals because of the party's support for traditional Christian moral teaching on sexuality and marriage. In December, a Christian pastor and youth counsellor, Stephen Boissoin was found guilty by an Alberta Human Rights Tribunal for publicly expressing the Christian teaching on homosexuality.
Ezra Levant himself has thanked Martin for the initiative saying, "If a progressive, young, hip Liberal MP from an urban seat feels comfortable proposing this bill, it is a sign that reforming these commissions is politically safe, even for a Conservative government still worried about being tagged as 'anti-human rights'."
"The man picks political winners. That alone is a signal to other MPs that it's safe to stand and be counted on this fight."
To date, no comment on the issue has come from Conservative members of government, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.