Sunday, January 17, 2010

LEAF Weighs In

LEAF (the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund) is a Canadian legal organization that performs legal research and intervenes in appellate and Supreme Court of Canada cases on women's issues They've offered their submission on the review of the CHRA's section 13 (hate speech laws), by the Parliamentary standing committee on justice and human rights, here. There's some good historical and legal background in the document, which otherwise takes positions that are not terribly surprising. For example, LEAF follows the legal consensus re the Hadjis decision--section 13 alone is safe; s54.1 in conjunction with 13 may be a problem.

They do make an additional argument that you don't see much, which is that Canada needs hate speech laws to live up to its international obligations:

Canada is a signatory to several relevant international conventions that require state parties to prohibit hate speech. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Canada in 1976, provides in Article 20(2) that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”33 Similarly, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by Canada in 1981, provides in Article 4 that “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.”34 In Keegstra, Chief Justice Dickson recognized these documents as reflective of “the international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda.”35 International law recognizes that measures against hate speech may take different forms.

So there you have it. Their website is here.

1 comment:

KC said...

Just to be clear the international obligations argument can't be taken as mandating s. 13, a point LEAF is careful to dance around. The CCC provisions are sufficient for international law purposes.