Friday, October 24, 2014

New Tory Hate Speech Laws? Richard Warman On Government's New Anti-Terror Initiatives

So I read this this morning:

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

I emailed Richard Warman, an expert the legal status of on-line hate-speech, and he was kind enough to offer these brief comments:

Extreme online hate posts that target groups or justify violence based on their religion, race, or nationality were illegal under s. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Conservative Party MPs voted unanimously to repeal s. 13 in June of 2012.  The Conservatives destroyed the only effective legal protection against online hate speech.  Conservative MP Brian Storseth described himself as "ecstatic".  Jonathan Kay of the National Post said "good riddance".

It was the Conservatives who dismantled the law that protected Canadians from online terror.

It would be beyond ironic if the Tories were to resurrect, or create something indistinguishable from, the law they spent so many years trying to get rid of.


The Mound of Sound said...

Of course it's for the government to decide who is a terrorist and who is something else, a freedom fighter perhaps. The excesses of one may be mirrored by the other but only one is an atrocity. All you have to do is Google "dahiyeh."

crf said...

The government should think twice.

The law may be very difficult to enforce, but it will create a perception in the public's mind that these laws are useful in fighting terror.

So assuming such a law is in force, what happens if the next terror attack happens, and reporters trawling through the attacker's social media find lots of messages praising ISIS or whatever extremist cause, as is likely? They'll (unfairly) blame the government for not finding him and doing something about it beforehand.

Polyorchnid Octopunch said...

This is not even close to being the same law. It'll be used to stifle people who, for example, nod approvingly about FNs in BC obstructing the Northern Gateway, or who complain about Israeli treatment of Gaza (thereby condoning Palestinian resistance).