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Old 03-13-2012, 07:21 PM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,006,335 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
If your laws work for you - great - you've found a country that is a good fit for you. I wouldn't want to live in a country where groups like the KKK are tolerated under the guise of "freedom"
Are there not Neo Nazi affiliated groups freely operating in Canada today? A visit to a site like Stormfront say that they are alive and well.

I personally have a conflicted view of the Hate Speech Laws in Canada, but my question is how effective are they if sites like Stormfront and Groups like the Aryan Resistance (and other Skinhead groups) can still exist and operate in Canadian cities?
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:22 PM
 
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Quote:
I'm curious to know the state of civil liberties in Canada compared to the US. Here in the states, the government is gradually hacking away at our basic civil liberties, especially the 1st amendment right to free speech. This is not a temporary blip, but rather a long-term trend, as both republicans and democrats alike (is there really a difference anyway?) are taking unprecedented strides toward restricting civil liberties (I won't go into the details, but the evidence is overwhelming).

Is there a similar trend in Canada?
To respond to the OP's question above:

I think there is indeed a similar trend in both countries, however the strategies being used by government are different in each case.

As should now be clear from the last couple of pages of posts, Canada has "hate speech" laws which are an absolute mess at best and a complete catastrophe at worst. Canada's hate speech laws effectively make certain ideas illegal. So if you publish a book which expresses ideas that the government deems illegal, or could be deemed as offensive to one of the "designated groups" that the government has arbitrarily decided gets special privileges (major religions, races other than white people, and homosexuals are perhaps the most common examples) then you can be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to jail.

It does not matter if you made no incitement to crime or violence against a person or persons whatsoever in your essay, book, speech, interview, etc; if you publish an idea which offends the government or a "government-designated group", you may well end up in prison for it in Canada.

Furthermore, under Canada's hate speech laws the truth is no defence. Whether what you are saying is true or not is irrelevant; if someone's feelings are being hurt and they belong to a group designated by government, you can be convicted of hurting someone's feelings or exposing someone to contempt, and then fined and/or jailed regardless of how well-researched, evidence-based, independently-verified and peer-reviewed your essay/book/speech/ideas actually are.

In essence, under Canada's current legal framework you can be jailed for thought crimes.

*****

To say some Canadian citizens are bothered by this would be an understatement. Some believe it is fundamentally wrong to throw a person in jail for publishing a book that does not incite anyone to violence, and merely spouts racist jokes (yes, you can be convicted for telling an off-colour joke at a comedy club), stereotypes, or laughably revisionist history that would be better classed as fiction. But it seems that most people in Canada do want those those with racist or other fringe views to be jailed. Most feel that we gain a bit of security by giving up this bit of liberty, and are comfortable with the trade-off. The hate speech framework has been supported by all the major political parties, as far as I'm aware. Certainly the Liberals and Conservatives are strongly in favour of it -- I would need to double check on the NDP and BQ but I think they are in support of it as well. As a politician it is of course difficult to stand up for the rights of a small minority of dedicated racists, nazi sympathizers, anti-jewish and anti-muslim cranks, and then win an election in a country where people don't normally stand up for the rights of people that far into the margins of social discourse.

However there are also many Canadians who truly admire the idealism of America's dedication to liberty, even while recognizing that America has lately had difficulties getting back on the right track. Many Canadians wish Canada had a founding document which would put government in its place, and stop (or severely slow) its encroachment into people's ideas, speech, bedrooms, marriages and private lives.

Yes, America's got serious problems with government growing out of control and individual liberty being gradually crushed. But so does Canada. The big difference that I see between the two countries is that in America you've got people like Michael Badnarik, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, the ACLU, a Libertarian party that wins seats, and other individuals, politicians and institutions who are defending individual liberty and trying to downsize government and get it out of people's lives. All of these folks are interviewed regularly on top national and international news networks, as well as the top talk shows and evening variety shows.

In Canada, who in the public eye stands for liberty? (nobody that I can think of) When is the last time a libertarian candidate won an election at any level of government? (couldn't tell you) What nationally known individual or institution is interviewed constantly to answer questions like

"What is the proper role of government in our lives?"
"What can we do to restrain and reduce government power?"
"How can we lighten the burden of government on the individual?"
"How can we call ourselves a free society when our government throws people in jail for having ideas it disagrees with, or for having ideas that hurt the feelings of somebody, or for having ideas that many of us find repulsive?"

None that I can think of, except maybe the British Columbia civil liberties association which once in a blue moon publishes something good, but generally gets no press coverage at all.

I don't think there has ever been a Canadian prime minister who would openly indict government as a whole with lines like "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." And I doubt there will be one in my lifetime.

For all its domestic difficulties, global warmongering, and capture of key government offices by religious people who make policy and even go to war based on voices in their head that supposedly come from their Catholic, Protestant, Mormon or Jewish god, I, a Canadian citizen, still have greater hope for the restoration of liberty in America than the same in Canada.

Last edited by Lepistiku; 03-14-2012 at 12:14 AM..
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:36 AM
 
3,060 posts, read 7,158,625 times
Reputation: 3260
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
Are there not Neo Nazi affiliated groups freely operating in Canada today? A visit to a site like Stormfront say that they are alive and well.

I personally have a conflicted view of the Hate Speech Laws in Canada, but my question is how effective are they if sites like Stormfront and Groups like the Aryan Resistance (and other Skinhead groups) can still exist and operate in Canadian cities?
You may be right about Strormfront and Aryan Resistance - I am not certain - I doubt that they would be able to operate very freely in Canada due to the laws.

I did say earlier that I was playing the Devil's advocate - and, like yourself, I have conflicted views about the laws. For the most part I think they are balanced as written, and I personally do not want to live in a society where racist loudmouths have the right to be offensive and spew their garbage. I am okay with MY rights of free speech being curtailed if it shuts them up - because I don't need that right. I really don't. A lot of people feel the same way. At the same time, I get that a lot of people do not feel the same way, and believe that people should have the right to make speeches about, publish and disseminate whatever the hell they want.

So I am okay with the laws as written, however as Lepistiku pointed out, the laws can be misused. I do think that the pursuit of political correctness has been elevated to the level of stupidity. At the protest of one Wiccan at my workplace, our Christmas party suddenly became the "Holiday party". The Christmas tree at my son's school became the "Holiday Tree". Merry Christmas has been replaced with Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to "not offend". I understand the thought behind it, but I find it ludicrous nonetheless. I do not like it. It makes me uneasy.

I have mixed feelings about the laws. I understand and agree with the principle behind them, and the vast majority of the time I lived in Canada (my whole life until just a couple of years ago) I appreciated the surface civility in society that the anti-hate speech laws produced. And I witnessed first hand how the surface civility requirements tended to mellow the beliefs of people in practice.

However, if definitions of what is outlawed continue to be broadened and ramifications continue to be selectively directed based on which group thinks itself offended, or even worse, which group the government believes it must step in and protect (even if they are not complaining), then we are headed for trouble.

Last edited by sunshineleith; 03-14-2012 at 03:58 AM..
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,653,385 times
Reputation: 974
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
You may be right about Strormfront and Aryan Resistance - I am not certain - I doubt that they would be able to operate very freely in Canada due to the laws.

I did say earlier that I was playing the Devil's advocate - and, like yourself, I have conflicted views about the laws. For the most part I think they are balanced as written, and I personally do not want to live in a society where racist loudmouths have the right to be offensive and spew their garbage. I am okay with MY rights of free speech being curtailed if it shuts them up - because I don't need that right. I really don't. A lot of people feel the same way. At the same time, I get that a lot of people do not feel the same way, and believe that people should have the right to make speeches about, publish and disseminate whatever the hell they want.

So I am okay with the laws as written, however as Lepistiku pointed out, the laws can be misused. I do think that the pursuit of political correctness has been elevated to the level of stupidity. At the protest of one Wiccan at my workplace, our Christmas party suddenly became the "Holiday party". The Christmas tree at my son's school became the "Holiday Tree". Merry Christmas has been replaced with Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to "not offend". I understand the thought behind it, but I find it ludicrous nonetheless. I do not like it. It makes me uneasy.

I have mixed feelings about the laws. I understand and agree with the principle behind them, and the vast majority of the time I lived in Canada (my whole life until just a couple of years ago) I appreciated the surface civility in society that the anti-hate speech laws produced. And I witnessed first hand how the surface civility requirements tended to mellow the beliefs of people in practice.

However, if definitions of what is outlawed continue to be broadened and ramifications continue to be selectively directed based on which group thinks itself offended, or even worse, which group the government believes it must step in and protect (even if they are not complaining), then we are headed for trouble.
White supremacist groups are fairly active up here - I remember there being a big to-do in Provost, AB a few years ago. I've been told by friends they're trying to, or have, gain(ed) a foothold in Calgary, too (which makes sense - one of the few places you can make a good living without having any particular amount of sense).

I think the answer lies, as Cavaturaccioli mentioned, with more speech, rather than less. I have no more interest than you do in hearing that kind of garbage, but at the same time, I think I do need to reserve my own right to say whatever I want should the need arise - I'd hate to be without it if I did, in fact, need it some day.

I think our reaction, rather than the gov'ts, is most important. I made mention of David Ahenakew earlier - I don't think it's right that he was convicted under sec. 319, but I was happy with the firestorm he created for himself. He was eaten alive in the media and forced to resign in disgrace, and I have no sympathy for him, in that regard.

I also got a kick out of the State of Missouri's response to the KKK a few years ago. The Klan had adopted a piece of highway, which was legal, though unfortunate, so the state named it the Rosa Parks Freeway. After that the Klan wanted nothing to do with it.
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:58 AM
 
Location: London, UK
3,458 posts, read 4,006,335 times
Reputation: 2661
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
You may be right about Strormfront and Aryan Resistance - I am not certain - I doubt that they would be able to operate very freely in Canada due to the laws.

I did say earlier that I was playing the Devil's advocate - and, like yourself, I have conflicted views about the laws. For the most part I think they are balanced as written, and I personally do not want to live in a society where racist loudmouths have the right to be offensive and spew their garbage. I am okay with MY rights of free speech being curtailed if it shuts them up - because I don't need that right. I really don't. A lot of people feel the same way. At the same time, I get that a lot of people do not feel the same way, and believe that people should have the right to make speeches about, publish and disseminate whatever the hell they want.

So I am okay with the laws as written, however as Lepistiku pointed out, the laws can be misused. I do think that the pursuit of political correctness has been elevated to the level of stupidity. At the protest of one Wiccan at my workplace, our Christmas party suddenly became the "Holiday party". The Christmas tree at my son's school became the "Holiday Tree". Merry Christmas has been replaced with Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to "not offend". I understand the thought behind it, but I find it ludicrous nonetheless. I do not like it. It makes me uneasy.

I have mixed feelings about the laws. I understand and agree with the principle behind them, and the vast majority of the time I lived in Canada (my whole life until just a couple of years ago) I appreciated the surface civility in society that the anti-hate speech laws produced. And I witnessed first hand how the surface civility requirements tended to mellow the beliefs of people in practice.

However, if definitions of what is outlawed continue to be broadened and ramifications continue to be selectively directed based on which group thinks itself offended, or even worse, which group the government believes it must step in and protect (even if they are not complaining), then we are headed for trouble.
Good post Sunshine, I think we probably see eye to eye on this to a certain degree.

The reason I am conflicted though are for different reasons. You said something that caught my eye when you mentioned "Surface civility" I agree this can be in many cases are positive thing, but at times it can be a way for people to turn a blind eye to what is actually going on in their society.

I find that at times by granting these loudmouths a platform it forces people to confront and accept that their society is not as accepting as they may perceive. For example I personally loathe everything an organization like the KKK stands for, they make my blood boil and stomach churn. At the same time though I believe that their existence especially during the US Civil Rights Movement actually helped push forward the Civil Rights Agenda in the 50's. Also because the KKK could exist, it also allowed The Black Panther Party and later the Nation of Islam to express their views on race relations.

I have to ask myself could people like Malcolm X, Huey P, Bobby Seale, Elijah Mohammed, etc...exist if the other side was not allowed to express their view. I personally think it would be a shame for these Men to never have a platform because people were never forced to confront the realities of their society.

So yes I agree that there is a surface civility in Canada that is at times refreshing, but one can make an argument that has held Canadian minority groups back due to the lack of a platform to push their agenda.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Canada
5,691 posts, read 6,535,324 times
Reputation: 8193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepistiku View Post
To respond to the OP's question above:

I think there is indeed a similar trend in both countries, however the strategies being used by government are different in each case.

As should now be clear from the last couple of pages of posts, Canada has "hate speech" laws which are an absolute mess at best and a complete catastrophe at worst. Canada's hate speech laws effectively make certain ideas illegal. So if you publish a book which expresses ideas that the government deems illegal, or could be deemed as offensive to one of the "designated groups" that the government has arbitrarily decided gets special privileges (major religions, races other than white people, and homosexuals are perhaps the most common examples) then you can be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to jail.

It does not matter if you made no incitement to crime or violence against a person or persons whatsoever in your essay, book, speech, interview, etc; if you publish an idea which offends the government or a "government-designated group", you may well end up in prison for it in Canada.

Furthermore, under Canada's hate speech laws the truth is no defence. Whether what you are saying is true or not is irrelevant; if someone's feelings are being hurt and they belong to a group designated by government, you can be convicted of hurting someone's feelings or exposing someone to contempt, and then fined and/or jailed regardless of how well-researched, evidence-based, independently-verified and peer-reviewed your essay/book/speech/ideas actually are.

In essence, under Canada's current legal framework you can be jailed for thought crimes.

*****

To say some Canadian citizens are bothered by this would be an understatement. Some believe it is fundamentally wrong to throw a person in jail for publishing a book that does not incite anyone to violence, and merely spouts racist jokes (yes, you can be convicted for telling an off-colour joke at a comedy club), stereotypes, or laughably revisionist history that would be better classed as fiction. But it seems that most people in Canada do want those those with racist or other fringe views to be jailed. Most feel that we gain a bit of security by giving up this bit of liberty, and are comfortable with the trade-off. The hate speech framework has been supported by all the major political parties, as far as I'm aware. Certainly the Liberals and Conservatives are strongly in favour of it -- I would need to double check on the NDP and BQ but I think they are in support of it as well. As a politician it is of course difficult to stand up for the rights of a small minority of dedicated racists, nazi sympathizers, anti-jewish and anti-muslim cranks, and then win an election in a country where people don't normally stand up for the rights of people that far into the margins of social discourse.

However there are also many Canadians who truly admire the idealism of America's dedication to liberty, even while recognizing that America has lately had difficulties getting back on the right track. Many Canadians wish Canada had a founding document which would put government in its place, and stop (or severely slow) its encroachment into people's ideas, speech, bedrooms, marriages and private lives.

Yes, America's got serious problems with government growing out of control and individual liberty being gradually crushed. But so does Canada. The big difference that I see between the two countries is that in America you've got people like Michael Badnarik, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, the ACLU, a Libertarian party that wins seats, and other individuals, politicians and institutions who are defending individual liberty and trying to downsize government and get it out of people's lives. All of these folks are interviewed regularly on top national and international news networks, as well as the top talk shows and evening variety shows.

In Canada, who in the public eye stands for liberty? (nobody that I can think of) When is the last time a libertarian candidate won an election at any level of government? (couldn't tell you) What nationally known individual or institution is interviewed constantly to answer questions like

"What is the proper role of government in our lives?"
"What can we do to restrain and reduce government power?"
"How can we lighten the burden of government on the individual?"
"How can we call ourselves a free society when our government throws people in jail for having ideas it disagrees with, or for having ideas that hurt the feelings of somebody, or for having ideas that many of us find repulsive?"

None that I can think of, except maybe the British Columbia civil liberties association which once in a blue moon publishes something good, but generally gets no press coverage at all.

I don't think there has ever been a Canadian prime minister who would openly indict government as a whole with lines like "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." And I doubt there will be one in my lifetime.

For all its domestic difficulties, global warmongering, and capture of key government offices by religious people who make policy and even go to war based on voices in their head that supposedly come from their Catholic, Protestant, Mormon or Jewish god, I, a Canadian citizen, still have greater hope for the restoration of liberty in America than the same in Canada.
I'd sure like to know where you get those ideas from because regardless of where you stand on the issue, they are factually not true.


Section 319(3) identifies acceptable defences. Indicates that no person shall be convicted of an offence if the statements in question:
  • are established to be true
  • were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds it was believed to be true
  • were expressed in good faith, it was attempted to establish by argument and opinion on a religious subject
  • were expressed in good faith, it was intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada
The crime of "publicly inciting hatred" has four main elements. To contravene the Code, a person must:
  • communicate statements,
  • in a public place,
  • incite hatred against an identifiable group,
  • in such a way that there will likely be a breach of the peace.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Canada
5,691 posts, read 6,535,324 times
Reputation: 8193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
Had Steyn's book been deemed 'offensive', what sanctions would a tribunal be empowered to impose? I assume that it's something with a bit more import than wagging a finger at him and saying 'Shame, shame.'
First of all, the guy who complained about Steyn's book is no different than some little old lady complaining about The Valley of the Dolls in a local library so it seems impossible to speculate on what sort of penalty Steyn or his publisher might have received if a tribunal had found his book to be hate-mongering.

There are very specific elements to the Hate Crimes law, which I assume Steyn doesn't meet. I haven't read the book - I've only paged through it at the bookstore and it struck me as such a rambling piece of nonsense I'd pay no attention to it. Here is a link to Hate Crimes committed and the penalties imposed. It appears it could be as little as "shame, shame." Or it could be a fine. The penalty would depend on many things, including the past hate crime history of the person accused and what the outcome of his crime was. There isn't a one-size-fits-all punishment.
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