CCLA welcomes the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in the case of Lund v. Boissoin which considers the hate speech provisions under Alberta’s human rights code. The case concerns an opinion piece that was published by a newspaper and was strongly critical of those in the gay rights movement.
A complaint against the author was submitted and the Alberta Human Rights Commission Panel found that the opinion piece did constitute hate speech within the meaning of the statute. On appeal, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench overturned this decision. Adopting one of the arguments that CCLA had made in its intervention before the Court, the Judge found that the provision only applies to hateful expression that itself signals an intention to engage in discriminatory conduct or seeks to persuade others to do so in a way that makes it likely that prohibited discrimination will occur.
The Alberta Court of Appeal agreed with this interpretation and unanimously dismissed the appeal.
CCLA intervened at the Alberta Court of Appeal to urge the Court to uphold this reading of the legislation to ensure that speech is not chilled. While CCLA strongly repudiates the content of the opinion piece at issue in the case, freedom of expression is a core value in our democracy and the proper response to speech that is hateful or offensive is to denounce it, not silence it.
CCLA was represented by Janet McCready, from Peacock Linder & Halt LLP, a Calgary-based law firm.
>> To read the Court of Appeal decision, click here
>> To read CCLA’s factum, click here
>> To read about CCLA’s prior involvement in the case, click here