First, the Wildrose states that it would repeal s. 3 of the AHRA. This section currently prohibits the publication or display of any statement, notice, sign, symbol, etc. that either indicates discrimination or is likely to expose to hatred or contempt a person or a class of persons protected under the AHRA (subject to a couple of caveats, including the guarantee in s. 3(2) that “Nothing in this section shall be deemed to interfere with the free expression of opinion on any subject”). The Wildrose says that the revised legislation “will maintain the Criminal Code standard of banning speech that advocates for acts of violence or genocide against any individual or identifiable group.” Presumably, this change is in response to the “attacks against freedom of speech” alleged by the Wildrose.
There are a few issues with this proposal. Although the Wildrose refers to the repeal of s. 3 in its entirety, its proposal to replace it with a different standard for hate speech makes it unclear whether it plans to repeal only the hate speech portion of s. 3 (s. 3(1)(b)), or also the prohibition on discriminatory publications (s. 3(1)(a)). If it repeals the latter prohibition, that would leave a gap in the legislation that would fail to cover publications that are discriminatory but do not reach the level of promoting hatred.
(s. 3(1)(a) is the equivalent to section 13 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which I have written about here. It basically means that, since you can't deny housing, for example, to a person on the basis of their ethnicity, you can't post a "statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation"saying you are going to. Like this one:
And while the folks at Canadian Lawyer suggest it is unclear whether allowing such signs is Wildrose's intent, the wording in their platform is quite clear. They will:
- Strengthen Alberta’s human rights legislation to unequivocally protect the freedom of speech of all Albertans. This will include the repeal of section 3 in Alberta’s current human rights legislation.
Now, while we might argue about the limits to free speech all day and all night, I don't think any of us want to allow folks to post "No Dogs Or Irish" signs outside their restaurants. But that would be the effect of WildRose's proposed changes.