The Canadian government is looking at restoring a polarizing hate speech law that was repealed in 2013.
According to a letter from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Trudeau Liberals are actively considering reinstating the the internet legislation, which is currently “under review.”
As first reported by the Langley Times, the minister was responding to correspondence from hate speech activist Cran Campbell, who was urging the government to bring back the law.
“Thank you for your correspondence concerning your personal situation,” Wilson-Raybould begin in a letter emailed to Campbell on Jan. 4. “I note your suggestion that the Government should bring back the legislation that was in the Canadian Human Rights Act to deal with hate messages on the internet. It may interest you to know that this option is currently under review. I will take your comments into consideration.”
Canada has extensive provisions affecting and defining hate speech in the Criminal Code. The law that was repealed was contained in Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and specifically affected communication by telephone or internet. It was criticized by free speech advocates as being an unnecessary block on political discourse on the internet.
Conservative Member of Parliament Brian Storseth made it his personal mission to kill Section 13, framing a private member’s bill that eventually received support from representatives of the three major parties in the House of Commons.
In response to a query from the National Post, the justice minister’s office referred to the letter written to Campbell and allowed that the attorney general “frequently reviews our laws and policies.”
The response continued, “The Government is committed to taking effective measures to combat all forms of discrimination in Canada, including acts that incite or promote hatred against persons.”