Anti-hate campaign Cran Campbell said he was encouraged to hear the federal government is considering restoring a section of the Humans Rights Act that bans hate speech on the internet. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Ottawa looking into restoring repealed hate speech law

Correspondence with federal minister reveals the federal government is looking into bringing law back

A Langley man who campaigns against hate speech on the internet was pleased to hear the federal government is reviewing a decision to kill a controversial section of the Human Rights Act that was once used to fight offensive comments online.

Cran Campbell was informed of the possibility in an e-mail from federal Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson‑Raybould on Friday (Jan. 5).

“I think it’s encouraging that they’re looking at it,” Campbell told The Times.

“But I don’t know if it’s going to go through. (If it does) I’ll support them 10,000 per cent.”

Campbell, who has been campaigning against hate speech posted to chat forums on the Craigslist online classified sites for years, had written the federal justice minister to report how he had been targeted by internet trolls for filing complaints about offensive statements.

Messages were posted on various internet sites that made unsupported accusations of criminal behaviour against Campbell, who spent weeks getting them taken down.

READ MORE: Langley man fighting to clear his online reputation

As well, someone used pilfered text from a newspaper article about him to link to porn sites.

READ MORE: An unpleasant surprise online for Langley anti-hate campaigner

In his letter, Campbell said it would help if the federal government would restore section 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Act, which allowed the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to go after online hate propagandists, fining them as much as $10,000.

The law was repealed by the then-Conservative government in 2013 following a ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the section violated freedom of speech.

The decision was supported by several groups critical of the law, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association which complained the law was used or threatened to be used against anti-American protesters, French-Canadian nationalists and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.

As well, the then-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, Mary Agnes Welch, said the law “allows complainants to chill the speech of those they disagree with by entangling targets in a human rights bureaucracy that doesn’t have to operate under the same strict rules of defence as a court.”

The Federal Court of Appeal later declared the section was constitutionally valid and did not violate freedom of expression, but by then, it had been repealed.

In her emailed letter of response to Campbell,, Wilson‑Raybould expressed sympathy for his difficulties and informed him the government was considering resurrecting Section 13(1).

“I note your suggestion that the Government should bring back the legislation that was in the Canadian Human Rights Act to deal with hate messages on the internet,” the minister wrote.

“It may interest you to know that this option is currently under review.”

Campbell said he hopes the government does more than just consider restoring the law.

“If they don’t do something about it (online hate speech), it’s going to get worse,” Campbell said.

“Things have to change.”

The Wilson‑Raybould letter to Campbell noted there are other steps that can be taken against online hate speech under laws still on the books, that the Criminal Code contains three hate propaganda offences.

They include advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group; inciting hatred against an identifiable group by communicating in a public place statements that are likely to lead to a breach of the peace; and communicating statements, other than in private conversation, to willfully promote hatred against an identifiable group.

The Code allows a judge “to order the seizure and forfeiture of tangible hate propaganda kept on premises for distribution and sale, as well as the deletion of hate propaganda made available to the public through a computer system, where they are within the jurisdiction of the court.”

The minister also suggested Campbell could pursue criminal charges over the false accusations of criminal activities.

“It may interest you to know that it is an offence under the Criminal Code to publish a defamatory libel knowing it to be false,” Wilson‑Raybould said.

“Generally, a defamatory libel is an attack on a person’s reputation published to someone other than the person libeled and that is in a permanent or semi‑permanent form.”



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

On Cooking: Building the perfect sandwich or burger

Secret lies in placement of all ingredients.

Maple Ridge students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Glenwood elementary teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Maple Ridge writers and readers fest for anyone who loves books

Great Canadian Literature Tea tickets selling fast

Untrending : Storm shows value of community

Reminder we are vulnerable to nature’s whims.

OCOP: Producing the Coolest Coffee Table Book Ever

Sean Nosek talks about his friendship with street artist Ken Foster

WATCH: ARMS celebrates 25th annual Ridge Meadows Rivers Day

Activities took place all day on Sunday at the Allco Fish Hatchery

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

Porsche impounded for going 138 km/hr in 90 zone during charity rally

West Vancouver Police said wet roads and heavy rain made it extra dangerous

Phase 2 of $1.35B Royal Columbian upgrades won’t be a public-private partnership

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says it will be a design-build

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

B.C. man fined $15,000, barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Family, friends of B.C murder victim want killer sent back to max security facility

Group wants convicted murderer Walter Ramsay sent back to a maximum security facility

Most Read