A free speech victory

//A free speech victory

A free speech victory

by Brian Lilley.  June 28, 2013.

One small win for freedom
Fight to get Bill C-304 passed was tough, but well worth it

Sometimes dramatic changes happen in the still of the night or when no one is looking. On Wednesday, few in Canada noticed a dramatic change had occurred and it happened in the Senate.

While most who even noticed the Senate was still sitting were celebrating or denouncing the vote to gut Bill C-377, the union transparency bill, there was another vote, one that restored a touch of our freedoms.

Bill C-304, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, passed third and final reading in the Senate after languishing there for more than a year.

This is the bill that repeals the dreaded section 13 of the human rights act. That’s the soon-to-be former law that made it an offence to post something online that was “likely to expose” an identifiable group to hatred or contempt.

First off, hatred and contempt are feelings and hard to legislate against, therefore the law was always silly. Secondly, “likely to expose?” That meant you didn’t even have to actually expose anyone to these feelings through your posting, just that whatever you said, wrote or sang in an Internet posting could theoretically expose a protected group to hatred or contempt.

And, as we saw time and again through the prosecutions undertaken by the federal human rights apparatus, there didn’t even need to be a complaint from anyone in a protected group to see you prosecuted.

Section 13 of the human rights act was an affront to free speech, it was an affront to due process, it was an affront to logic and the rule of law.

It will soon be gone. The bill received royal assent late Wednesday and comes into force one year from now.

Progressives, who have never met a freedom they wouldn’t take away from you, were apoplectic online when I broke the news on Twitter.

They claimed repealing section 13 will mean it is open season on aboriginals, on minorities and genocide won’t be far off.

Nonsense. It is still a crime, according to the Criminal Code, to incite violence. This change merely repeals thought crimes legislation.

The fight against this legislation started with the attempt to prosecute Mark Steyn after an excerpt of his fantastic book America Alone was published on the website of Maclean’s magazine.

A group of young Muslim activists felt Steyn was insulting Islam and wanted him punished, which would essentially flush hundreds of years of Canadian legal tradition down the toilet.

While section 13 was denounced in newspaper editorials across Canada, I can tell you most journalists couldn’t have cared less for this story, nor cared about the infringement on their freedom of expression. Some of us fought back, though, seeing the law as it was written as decidedly un-Canadian.

It was a tough fight but worth it.

The biggest credit, though, has to go to the bloggers, the activists and the thousands of regular people who took a stand for freedom of speech even as bureaucrats derided that ideal as “an American concept.”

Freedom of speech is Canadian, but like all our freedoms, if we don’t stand up for them we will lose them. Right now there is an attempt to expand warrantless searches and further curtail the rights governments are supposed to protect rather than trample.

But for today I will be content to savour a victory before the next battle begins.

Source:  Lilley’s Pad

2019-01-03T18:49:29+00:00June 29th, 2013|Categories: News & Views|Tags: , , |