This link provides a roundup of previous J-Source posts about the Harper administration's control of media.
A tribunal has struck down a controversial provision of Canada's Human Rights Act that bans hate speech on the Internet. Section 13, already the target of an independent review into its broad scope and potential for abuse, violates the constitutional right to free speech, the vice-chair of the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruled Sept. 2. An appeal is possible but the ruling may mark the end of federal efforts to use human rights laws to regulate what's said on the Internet. Jesse McLean reports in in the Toronto Star.
A group of Manitoba chiefs is urging hate charges be filed against the CBC for what it called “racist and hateful” comments about natives posted on the broadcaster's website. But whether media outlets are responsible for what’s said in moderated discussion boards remains a grey area in Canadian law. Patrick White reports in The Globe and Mail.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling on Parliament to force all Canadian magazines, newspapers and "media services" Web sites to join a national press council with the power to adjudicate breaches of professional standards and complaints of discrimination. Journalists warn that mandatory government regulation poses a threat to freedom of expression. Joseph Brean reports in the National Post.
Read the Ontario commission's submission to the Canadian Human Righs Commission.
Legal, human rights and media experts from across Canada gathered in Halifax on November 1, 2008 to discuss the limits on what Canadians can say and publish about sensitive issues such as race, religion or sexual orientation. "The Media's Right to Offend: Exploring Legal and Ethical Limits on Free Speech," the 6th annual Joseph Howe Symposium, was organized by the University of King's College School of Journalism and Calgary's Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.
The one-day symposium explored the impact of human rights laws on freedom of expression and featured a keynote address by Globe and Mail columnist Margarent Wente. Panelists included Ezra Levant, former publisher of the Western Standard; Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Freedom of Expression Project; Kelly Toughill, associate professor of journalism at King's and Toronto Star columnist; Wayne MacKay of Dalhousie Law School, an expert in constitutional and human rights law; John Miller, associate chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism; and Krista Daley, Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
Click here to view videos of the presentations.
Click here for links to news coverage and background information on the issues discussed.
Parliament should repeal the Canadian Human Rights Commission's power to investigate online hate messages, leaving such probes to police, prosecutors and Internet service providers, says a report released in November 2008. "Censorship of hate speech should be limited to speech that explicitly or implicitly threatens, justifies or advocates violence against the members of an identifiable group," says Richard Moon, a constitutional law expert the commission hired to explore whether its mandate threatens freedom of speech.
Read the Canwest News Service report.
Read Richard Moon's report to the commission.
The Canadian Association of Journalists is urging the federal government to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Commission Act, which grants the agency the power to police the Internet and censor speech.
Canada's major police forces have assigned officers to pose as journalists or would consider doing so to combat crime. Journalists condemn the practice, saying it undermines their credibility and threatens freedom of the press. University of King's College journalism student Ruth Mestechkin explores the battle between the notebook and the badge in the King's Journalism Review.
Nova Scotia's courts have withdrawn a controversial plan to accredit journalists and mete out unspecified punishment to journalists deemed to have violated guidelines on access to hearings and documents. It marked the first time Canadian judges claimed the power to decide who's a journalist and to punish the media outside the normal court process. Terrence McEachern, a journalism student at the University of King's College, filed this report on opposition to the proposal for the November 21, 2008 edition of the Halifax Commoner, a weekly newspaper published by students in the school's newspaper workshop.
While the Canadian Human Rights Commission has concluded that Mark Steyn's controversial October 2006 Maclean's piece was "calculated to excite and even offend certain readers," the commission ruled that doesn't make it hate speech. Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew says the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal should reject a similar complaint against Maclean's and, like its federal counterpart, initiate a study of the hate-speech section of its enabling legislation. Haroon Siddiqui, writing in the Toronto Star, argues that hate laws are a reasonable limit on free speech and what's needed is to exempt media reports from human rights laws -- and for the media to exercise self-restraint by refusing to publish "racist cartoons and anti-Semitic rants."
Read Mulgrew's column.
Read Siddiqui's column.
Read the CBC report on the commission's ruling.
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