Last year, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) made a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (the « Committee ») in support of s. 12 of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (« Bill C-13 »). We encouraged the government to have the hate propaganda protections in the Criminal Code mirror the protected groups under s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (LEAF made no submission on and took no position on the rest of Bill C-13.)
Bill C-13 – now S.C. 2014, c. 31 – came into force March 10, and with it, finally there is protection from hate speech for many groups who have been excluded from the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code since they were first put in place in 1970. LEAF welcomes the inclusion of protections on the grounds of sex, age, national origin and mental and physical disability in the Criminal Code as an important and overdue measure.
Nonetheless, LEAF submits that all groups protected under human rights legislation should be in the Criminal Code list of identifiable groups protected against hate propaganda. LEAF notes with disappointment that Bill C-13 did not correct the absence of “gender identity” in this list, an omission that is compounded by the failure to pass Bill C-279 to date. All groups who have been recognized by human rights commissions across the country as vulnerable to discrimination warrant protection from hate propaganda.
To read more about LEAF’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights review of Bill C-13, please click here.