MP speaks to Airdrie residents about Human Rights Act bill
Northern Alberta MP Brian Storseth stopped in Airdrie July 3 on the sixth stop of his speaking tour to talk to about 30 residents about his Private Member’s Bill, C-304, in the House of Commons.
Storseth called to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) claiming it discriminates against Canadians’ fundamental right to free speech.
Working since 2008, Storseth successfully had the third reading of the bill passed in the HOC on Sept. 30, 2011, and it will now be reviewed in the Senate.
“We’re hoping to get this through before the end of the fall,” Storseth said.
He stopped in Airdrie to educate citizens and rally signatures for his petition.
“It’s the way to put pressure on public officials,” Storseth said.
“The premier (Alison Redford) has already made a commitment,” he said.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government passed the CHRA in 1977. Section 13 was included following a man spreading hate speech in the streets of Toronto via telephone messages.
Storseth said the section violates Section 2(b) of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which includes freedom of expression.
Section 13(2) was added to the CHRA in 1999, prohibiting the communication of hate messages through the Internet.
Storseth said the clause has become a more prevalent issue with the explosion of the Internet, and that people charged under the Human Rights Commission do not have a right to an attorney.
“If your grandchild goes online and goes into a chat about a theological debate, something we should encourage, and they offend someone from a group (they can be charged),” he said.
He argued that most people can’t afford the legal charges accrued during the process, causing them to be convicted regardless of whether they are guilty or not.
“It gives the power of our fundamental right to expression to the bureaucracy,” Storseth said.
He said the Criminal Code of Canada should be enough to enforce hate speech.
“It should be investigated by a police officer, real judges and real lawyers,” Storseth said.
Wild Rose MP Blake Richards has endorsed Storseth and voted to push the bill through the HOC.
“The Human Rights Commission is not a completely judicial process,” Richards said.
He said hate speech will not become an issue “as long as you have protections in place.”
For more information on Bill C-304, visit www.brianstorseth.ca/bill-c-304
“What they did when they created this law was put a chill on human rights. This was created to be a shield. It ended up being a sword against us.”