Wednesday, June 13, 2012

'Ask and You Shall Receive'

I've always suspected it. And now I have proof! All Some good things do come to those who wait.

Remember way back in the way back, some of those *fun* conversations we had at Lex"s? The ones about Canada's human rights system and how evil it was worked? About whether or not the so called "hate speech" provisions belonged in the federal Human Rights Act?

Well, they said they were going to do it. And, lo and behold, they actually did something right.

I must admit, I never thought I would find myself in agreement with these words.
“Way to go, Harper. I know we can’t get everything we want, but I stand a little taller today as a Canuck,” wrote “OneMan.”
Especially not with this Conservative government in power.

But be that as it may, I've repeatedly said that I don't think sec. 13 ever should have been added to the Human Rights Act. In my opinion, such matters are better dealt with in court - as either "hate speech" (inciting someone to violence) under the Criminal Code or, civilly, as a defamation claim for damages, if necessary.

Apparently, however, the Canadian Bar Association, who was in favour of the inclusion of s. 13 in the first place, disagrees. In a January 2010 report, it argued for the retention of the section, albeit without the penalty provisions that were attached. Their argument appearing to be that while the general "compensatory" damages provided for elsewhere in the Act are fine, the "punitive" sanctions attached to s. 13 are not.

Which, makes for an interesting argument/result, considering that, in general, the Act provides a much wider array of powers to a panel that has found discrimination in cases outside of sec. 13, both monetarily and otherwise, than it does for a violation of sec 13. But, hey, at least no one would be forced to pay a "penalty" (even if it is in a smaller amount than what can be ordered as damages for compensation for pain and suffering) as was allowed under sec. 54(3)(c). [Yeah, right, makes perfect sense to me, too.]

I am however in agreement with the CBA with it's concern that the debate surrounding sec. 13 was the start of a campaign to weaken Canada’s human rights laws.

Tell me, please, does any of this sound familiar?
Of greater concern to the CBA is the fact that the debate surrounding the expediency of section 13 has become the proxy for an open assault on the very existence of an administrative framework to protect human rights in this country. Critics have decried human rights proceedings as "kangaroo courts" which provide only "drive through justice" and advocated that human rights tribunals and commissions should no longer be permitted to operate. We reject attacks of this kind and reiterate forcefully our support for the continued importance of the work undertaken by these human rights bodies to foster human rights in Canada. Legal protections for human rights have existed in Canada since 1947 when Saskatchewan enacted the first bill of human rights in North America.
Uh huh. Could that have been taken out of some of those comment threads at Lex's or what?

Of course, now that the deed's been done, we have those who fear "free speech boost will rally neo-Nazi cyberhate". Personally, that doesn't concern me too much - although we will, no doubt, always have such idiot groups in our midst, considering that Canadian police forces reported a 42 per cent rise of in hate-based incidents in 2009, as compared to 2008, and a 35 per cent jump the year year before that, it doesn't seem to me that sec. 13 was having much of the desired effect anyway.

So, boys and girls, I am happy to report that it looks like the system can (and indeed has) work as advertised, at least in this case.

I knew it could. I knew it could. I knew it could ...

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