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Feb 20, 2008 04:30 AM
Courts not the place to fight hate
Comment, Feb. 17
Anna Morgan appears to either fail to recognize the power of hate speech to dehumanize society and set the stage for mass atrocities against an identifiable group, or she is trying to put a different spin on it.
Perhaps a reminder is in order. It was due to Canada’s experience of the horrific events of World War II, and our continuing commitment to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that we enacted our hate-speech laws. Genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda have served as painful reminders of the ramifications of hate speech and the need for effective laws to address it.
Furthermore, our hate-speech laws exist to protect the marginalized and multicultural communities of Canada, reflecting our commitment to Section 27 of the Charter of Rights, which states: “This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.” It was this provision that the Supreme Court of Canada cited in upholding the constitutionality of our hate-speech laws when they were challenged by Jim Keegstra, a schoolteacher charged for indoctrinating students with Jewish conspiracy theories.
While courtrooms are not the only places to address the harm inflicted on our multicultural society by hate-mongers, they are essential in asserting our commitment to pursuing justice and affirming the values we hold dear. On the international stage, it was this commitment that led to the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the prosecution of perpetrators of the Bosnian genocide at the International Criminal Court.
As citizens, we ought to be committed to Canada’s Charter of Rights, and we must continue our resistance against all attempts to undermine the hate-speech protections that exist for all Canadians.
Ali Mallah, Vice-President-Ontario,
Canadian Arab Federation, Toronto