In what must be much to the chagrin of leftists across our land, Rob Nicholson (left), the federal Minister of Justice, rose in the House of Commons this week to urge MPs to vote for the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act because it is an affront to free speech.
Section 13, of course, is the controversial provision than bans communication that is likely to expose identifiable groups to hatred or contempt. The section has been pretty widely condemned over the past few years, with several national media organizations—including the National Post, Maclean’s and the Toronto Star—calling for it to go. And recently, Alberta MP Brian Storseth has put forth a private members bill that, if passed, would see the offensive section scrapped, leaving the criminal code to deal with charges of hate speech in Canada.
According a report in today’s National Post Mr. Nicholson congratulated Mr. Storseth “for his commitment to the promotion and protection of free speech among all Canadians.” The Post adds that the minister said:
Our government believes that Section 13 is not an appropriate or effective means for combatting hate propaganda. We believe the Criminal Code is the best vehicle to prosecute these crimes, therefore I urge all members to support [Mr. Storseth’s bill] and our government’s forthcoming amendments to strengthen the hate provisions of the Criminal Code.
Conservatives voted almost unanimously at a policy conference in 2008 in support of scrapping Section 13 so the minister’s support of Mr. Storseth’s bill is no surprise. And I’m fully expecting accusations from the opposition benches and elsewhere that the Conservative government seeks to protect hatemongers. Be that as it may, though, I support the move to scrap Section 13.
With government support for its repeal, Section 13 could finally be gone by early next year—better late than never, and Bravo! to the Conservative government.