An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (hate speech)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Irwin Cotler  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of April 27, 2015
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to make the communication of hate speech by means of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament a discriminatory practice. It defines “hatred” and provides that the Canadian Human Rights Commission must deal with a complaint alleging such a discriminatory practice unless the subject matter of the complaint is part of a proceeding before another court or administrative tribunal or the Commission determines that dealing with the complaint is improper. The enactment also provides that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can institute an inquiry into such a complaint only with the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActRoutine Proceedings

April 27th, 2015 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-671, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (hate speech).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill that would restore the anti-hate speech provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, along with appropriate safeguards.

In 2012, the Conservatives responded to valid concerns about section 13 hate speech provisions of the Human Rights Act by essentially throwing out the baby with the proverbial bathwater and repealing the section outright. I was one of many who argued at the time that the section should be refined, not repealed, so as to result in hate speech provisions, such as those I am proposing today.

For example, the bill would institute protections against frivolous suits and abuse of process, such as requiring the consent of the attorney general for a complaint to go forward and allowing also for the awarding of costs.

Freedom of expression is the lifeblood of democracy and the bill expressly protects it. However, as Justice Rothstein wrote in the Supreme Court's unanimous 2013 decision regarding laws against hate speech:

The objective for which the limit is imposed, namely tackling causes of discriminatory activity to reduce the harmful effects and social costs of discrimination, is pressing and substantial.

Hate speech is not simply a matter of offending sensibilities or being politically correct, which is protected speech. It causes real and tangible harm, can assault the very values underlying free speech, can breach our international commitments and can assault the principle of equality. I thus invite all members to support this legislation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)