Free speech decision comes tomorrow

- February 26th, 2013

Canada’s Supreme Court will rule on a free speech case tomorrow. The case involves Bill Whatcott, a free speech activist and outspoken critic of homosexuality. In 2001 and 2002 Whatcott was handing out flyers that used blunt language to criticize homosexuality. Four people who received the flyers complained to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission “alleging that the material in them ‘promotes hatred against individuals because of their sexual orientation’ in violation of s. 14(1)(b) of the Code.”

Whatcott was ordered to pay $17,000 to the complainants.

Now you don’t need to agree with Whatcott to know that this is a case involving freedom of speech. One of the groups that intervened in the case was Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, a group whose board is dominated by CBC and Toronto Star types including Michelle Shephard and Anna Maria Tremonti.

Still, those of us who speak up in our own name to defend Whatcott’s right to free speech will still be denounced as right wing bigots. No matter, it is the right thing to do.

Still it is shocking to look at the list of interveners in this case and see how many groups, and government agencies are willing to restrict freedom of speech. I applaud CJFE and the others who defended free expression. Tomorrow morning we find out where the court stands, today here is where the groups stand.

Those who supported free speech

William Whatcott
Canadian Constitution Foundation
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Catholic Civil Rights League and Faith and Freedom Alliance
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Christian Legal Fellowship
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Association for Reformed Political Action Canada (denied intervener status)

 

Those who opposed free speech

Attorney General for Saskatchewan

Attorney General of Alberta

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Alberta Human Rights Commission

Egale Canada Inc.

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Canadian Jewish Congress

Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon and Canadian Unitarian Council

Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund

Canadian Bar Association

Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission and Yukon Human Rights Commission

League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada

United Church of Canada

Assembly of First Nations, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan

African Canadian Legal Clinic

Attorney General of Canada    (originally sought to intervene and then withdrew)

 

Categories: Politics

Subscribe to the post

4 comments

  1. Tim from Alberta says:

    Tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.”
    For all their blather about “tolerance,” the truth is that liberals do not really support free speech. Instead, they reserve it for themselves.
    It would appear that it is not just liberals,but the “politically correct” of all political persuasions.
    I’m afraid that this is what our Canadian democracy and it’s supposed support of free speech has sunk to……

  2. Percival says:

    I don’t know that limiting hate speech can be classified as restricting free speech. I suppose in the strictest sense of the word ‘restricting’ it is, but the restriction is sufficiently minor as to be justified against the broader interests of society. When you deny someone any particular right, you have to make a good case, a case that considers the rights of the individual over the rights of society.

    It is against the law in some jurisdictions to deny the holocaust (though not to deny that the history of slaves in America, interestingly). It’s hard to justify making holocaust denial illegal, and allow hateful, largely religous based speech to go unchecked. Why should a house of prostitution not be allowed next to your house? Because the interests of society, in this case the neighbourhood, supercede the right, not only to exercise free speech, but the right to conduct business, in a free enterprise system.

    It’s against the law to incite violence. Why, because denying someone the right to say “Go ahead beat this guy up”, while an infringment on their rights, is so minor as to be insignificant, especially in comparision to the guy who’s about to beat up. The real test is can a connection be made between the hate speech, and some consequences.

    I think you’ll agree that while denying some one to go around making statments about how God hates fags or something like that, is indeed an infringement upon someone’s rights, it’s a minor infringment.

    By the way, I put “More Guns, Less Crime” on hold at the Library.

  3. Russ says:

    I’m surprised at some of the names on the list of those who oppose free speech. I hope that they never have to be on the side of being silenced, but maybe then they might understand why some of us still hold that right dear to us.

  4. Alain says:

    It is good to expose the groups who oppose free speech, and from looking at the list I am not surprised. I see that someone with the moniker of Percival has trotted out the same old lie that speech with which you disagree (offends you) is “hate” speech. This is simply a form of fascism or totalitarianism. I include also the ridiculous inclusion of denying the Holocaust. It is far better to expose to the light of day those attempting to claim that a documented historical event never happened than to allow it to fester beneath the surface. What is already against the law in the Criminal Code is speech calling for violence against a person or group. That is really all that is needed, and Whatcott is not guilty of that.

Comments are closed.