Various human rights lawyers and groups such as the Canadian Bar Association say Section 13 is an important tool in helping to curb hate speech, and that removing it would lead to the proliferation of such speech on the Internet.
But critics of Section 13 said it enabled censorship on the Internet, and are calling its repeal a victory for free speech.
“We’re pleased with the repeal,” said Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who testified before a Senate committee on the topic.
Zwibel said Section 13 had “some serious problems from a freedom of expression perspective.”
“We don’t want there to be a chill on speech that is controversial but not necessarily hateful,” she said. “We felt that given the impact that it has on freedom of expression, and given that it hasn’t really proven to be a very effective method for dealing with discrimination, that it shouldn’t be on the books anymore … We really encourage countering hateful speech, rather than trying to censor it.”
Zwibel also said there’s not a lot of good evidence that marginalized groups have used the statute to curb discrimination.
“Section 13 is not something that minority groups were already embracing and making use of,” she said, noting that a large majority of the tribunal cases “were brought by a single individual.”
That person is Ottawa-based human rights lawyer Richard Warman, who has brought 16 successful Section 13 complaints before the human rights tribunal against neo-Nazis and white supremacists since 2001.
On Thursday, Warman said section 13 had helped sideline neo-Nazis from the Internet because of the power of Section 13 to obtain cease and desist orders from Canada’s human rights tribunal and enforce them through the courts.
“Virtually every other Western democracy has these kinds of civil law controls on hate speech,” Warman said. “Now, Canada just moves one large step further out of line from realizing that these kinds of controls are necessary and imperative.”...God Bless Canada for having the courage and the wisdom to move "out of step" with "these kinds of controls," ones which have no place whatsoever in a free society.