The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), which has come under fire for trampling on religious freedoms and freedom of expression, has announced that it has launched a comprehensive policy review of how best to address “hate messages” on the Internet.The Human Rights Commissions, which have in the past deemed hateful Biblical passages dealing with homosexuality, have now commenced the review, headed up by Professor Richard Moon of the University of Windsor. He is expected to submit his report to the Commission this fall.
Speaking today to the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA), CHRC Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch, Q.C. said, “The current debate on how to balance freedom of expression with the need to protect Canadians from hate messages in the Internet age is an important one.” Lynch added: “Legislation must evolve – when necessary – to respond and reflect changes in society.”
According to the CHRC the review will focus especially on section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the role of the Commission in enforcing that section of the Act. This announcement comes at a time, however, when support is building to remove Section 13(1) from the Act. Section 13(1) has been used by various human rights commission to prosecute “hate speech” in print publications, including one especially high profile case brought against Macleans magazine for having published an excerpt from the book of the popular conservative journalist Mark Steyn.
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