If you missed “The Battleground” on Sun News Network yesterday, you will have missed a budding controversy in the coming British Columbia election involving David Eby, former head of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. He is now the NDP candidate trying to unseat Premier Christy Clark in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. In a 2008 interview with the Western Standard magazine, Eby said he supported the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which deals with “hate speech”.
The BCCLA supports repealing Section 13 of the CHRA and its equivalent in the BC and other provincial legislation. We oppose restrictions on freedom of expression generally and any exceptions to that have to be clearly defined and strongly mandated by the facts. Obviously, restrictions are dangerous as they chill more expression than they intend as people seek to shy away from crossing the line and incurring a criminal or other penalty. While for some forms of speech we may disagree with and condemn the content, we still support the right to speak.
But when asked on Sun News whether he still holds that position as a provincial NDP candidate, Eby wasn’t as adamant. Check out the full video (and a useful primer on Christy Clark’s image problems) right here. The part dealing with the human rights code begins at about the 7-minute mark:
Why does any of this matter? It’s simple, really. A Conservative private member’s bill to repeal Section 13 of the CHRA has already passed the House of Commons (despite NDP and Liberal opposition) and is now before the Senate. Sooner or later, it will become a provincial issue.