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Copyright (c) 2010 Saskatchewan Law Review
Saskatchewan Law Review

LAW REVIEW LECTURE: The Attack on Human Rights Commissions and the Corruption of Public Discourse


Saskatchewan Law Review

73 Sask. L. Rev. 93


Richard Moon *


In June 2008, I was asked by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to write a report 1 about the regulation of hate speech on the internet, focusing specifically on s. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). 2 Section 13 prohibits the repeated communication on the phone system or the internet of any matter "that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination" such as race, gender and religion. 3

I was asked to do this at a time when the CHRC was coming under significant scrutiny. There are two reasons that may explain this increased scrutiny. First, the CHRC and other human rights commissions (HRCs) have in recent years received and investigated complaints about speech that is not so far removed in content and tone from widely-held views--notably speech that links Muslims to violence and anti-gay speech that is based on religious belief. Until recently, virtually all of the complaints received by the CHRC concerned neo-Nazi or white-supremacist websites. Second, the CHRC, as well as several of the provincial HRCs, have received complaints against mainstream publications, including Maclean's magazine and smaller publications such as the Western Standard and Catholic Insight.

I submitted my report to the CHRC in late October 2008. In the report, I recommended the repeal of s. 13 of the CHRA so ...
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