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Ottawa looking into restoring repealed hate speech law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The law was repealed by the then-Conservative government in 2013 following a ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the section violated freedom of speech.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

Surrey-based group maps places to find affordable food

Surrey and White Rock Food Coalition targets food security

Youth and seniors learn from each other

Seniors Health Network launches intergenerational program in White Rock

Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society raises $8,000

Donations collected at Christmas event last week

Realtor blanket drive collects 360 bags of clothing

Annual event helps South Surrey and White Rock residents in need

VIDEO: Hundreds of volunteers collect, wrap toys in Surrey at Sikh elementary school

Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, Sikh Academy partner together on annual toy drive

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

VIDEO: Giants head into holidays with a win at home

Vancouver G-Men don’t play next until Dec. 28, after 2-1 victory over Prince George Sunday.

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read