Saturday, April 10, 2010

Canadian Bar Association on Section 13

Here is their submission to the Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in regards to Section 13 (the hate speech provision) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. All common-sense stuff, and not particularly surprising; 13 itself is okay, but they recommend removing section 54(1)c and (1.1) (the penalty provisions) from the act, which seems to be the legal consensus as far as one exists.

Don't know if they've already presented this to the committee, but my understanding is that its already moved on to other issues, so maybe they won't get a chance. One interesting bit:

The Special Report recommends that the Act be amended to permit cost awards in cases where the Tribunal is of the opinion that a party has abused the Canadian Human Rights tribunal process. The CBA endorses this recommendation and recent experience suggests it is overdue. In its submission to the Canadian Human Rights Act Review, the CBA advocated that the Act be amended to empower the CHRT “to award costs in exceptional circumstances, which would include claims or defences found to be frivolous.”27 The power to award costs is a discretionary one and would be exercised only after all the circumstances of a particular case are taken into account.

The CHRT already has the "residual power" to award costs under such circumstances--and indeed some of its provincial counterparts have occasionally employed such powers--but the CBA would make it explicit.


Ti-Guy said...

They could keep the penalties and fund them by levying a human rights tax on every word Mark Steyn writes or utters.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

While I am an active member of the Canadian Bar Association, and actually write for one of their magazines, they constantly come out with "positions" without polling members, but purporting to broadly represent "lawyers" in Canada.

As their positions are neither polled, take with a grain of salt whether most lawyers think section 13 is a good thing.

I don't.

I'm probably not alone.