Lawyers representing the CCLA will be arguing in the Federal Court of Canada today in the case of Warman v. Lemire. This case concerns the constitutionality of the hate speech provisions in the Canadian Human Rights Act. In a ruling released in September 2009, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the Act’s hate speech sections were unconstitutional, and refused to apply the provisions. That decision is now being judicially reviewed in the Federal Court. It is one among several cases that will require courts to look at hate speech provisions in human rights statutes and determine whether they constitute unreasonable violations of freedom of expression as protected by the Canadian Charter. CCLA is intervening because of the breadth of these kinds of provisions and their capacity to chill speech, debate and dialogue.
In addition to the litigation that is ongoing on this issue, a private member’s bill has been introduced in Parliament that would repeal section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the very provision at issue in the Warman v. Lemire case.