Ontario’s Bill 84 will silence legitimate political expression
Banning hate speech may sound like a wonderful idea, except that people cannot agree on what is hateful. Hate, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
The subjectivity of what is “hate” makes Ontario’s Bill 84 very dangerous. This proposed new law to prohibit hate-promoting demonstrations at Queen’s Park is short and simple: “No demonstration, rally or other activity that, in the opinion of the Speaker, is likely to promote hatred against any identifiable group shall be permitted on legislative precinct grounds.” Bill 84 has passed second reading and is now going to committee.
While the Speakers of Canada’s legislatures are committed to impartiality among political parties, their humanity remains susceptible to biases, prejudices, and beliefs. Like all people, a Speaker’s thinking is influenced by assumptions about the source of morality, the purpose of human life and what moral principles should govern our behaviour. In assessing what is or is not hateful, nobody is fully objective, no matter how hard they may try.
At McMaster University, the accusation of hate was recently directed against a presentation in which speaker Rukiye Turdush accused the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uyghur people.
Turdush claims that China has persecuted and detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims in “re-education camps” in the western Xinjiang region. A coalition of Chinese student groups claimed Turdush’s presentation promoted “hatred” against China. Conflating a violent government with only some of its people, they reported the presentation to the Chinese consulate in Toronto, and asked McMaster to ensure the “dignity of Chinese students is not infringed.”
If speaking out against human rights abuses constitutes “hate” against China, then what about the book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”? Daniel Goldhagen argues that the Holocaust was supported by tens of thousands of ordinary Germans, who participated actively and deliberately in persecuting Jews. Does this book promote hatred against Germans?
The word “hate” is used ever more casually, and ever more frequently. It has become a blunt political weapon to silence one’s opponents. It has been said that critics of Israel hate Jews, critics of Islam hate Muslims, pro-lifers hate women, pro-choicers hate human life, those who disagree with gay sex hate gay people, radical feminists hate men, and the list goes on.
If some ex-Muslims wanted to hold a rally at Queen’s Park to draw attention to what they see (correctly or incorrectly) as the slow-but-steady, step-by-step Islamization of Canada, would the Bill 89 prohibit the demonstration as “likely to promote hatred” against Muslims, an identifiable group?
When social conservatives rally to oppose what their children are being taught in school about sexuality, gender, and marriage, will such demonstrations be banned as “likely to promote hatred” against LGBTQ individuals?
Are environmentalists “likely to promote hatred” against some industries, or against “climate change deniers”?
Some Canadians would, if given the chance, ban anti-Israel protests because they are “likely to promote hatred” against Jews. Others would support banning pro-Israel “propaganda” because it is “likely to promote hatred” of Palestinians or Muslims. Radical animal rights groups are “likely to promote hatred” against those who own and work for the fur industry, or the meat industry.
Even if people could agree on what is or is not “hate,” this is not the standard which Bill 84 seeks to impose. Rather, Bill 84 will prohibit not “hatred” but even what is “likely” to promote “hate,” as determined by one fallible, biased human, the Speaker of the Legislature.
Prohibiting hate-promoting demonstrations at Queen’s Park will not work, because there is no clear, objective standard of what is “hate,” that all people of good will rally around. Because there is no such standard, the Speaker’s decision as to what speech is allowed or not allowed will necessarily be a political decision.
The record of basing decisions of justice on political standards is historically packed with abuse. Groups will be banned from exercising their Charter freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly whenever an offended group complains loudly enough about a proposed event they dislike being “likely to promote hatred.” Groups that are politically well-organized will succeed in persuading the Speaker to silence their opponents.
Of course, we do need to draw a line that divides permissible from impermissible speech. In a free country, that line should be clear and objective: the direct promotion of violence, genocide and similar criminal conduct should be banned. The subjective political standard of Bill 84 falls far short of that mark.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca)
High school teachers in Ontario have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike, according to CTV News.
After a vote in Toronto, 95 percent of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) voted in favour, thus providing an “overwhelming” mandate to carry out strike action.
Alongside teachers, the union also represents education workers who also voted strongly in favour of a strike.
The OSSTF now has to send a five-day notice stating when the strike will begin. After this, they will be in a legal position to stage a strike.
Elementary school teachers and Catholic school board teachers are also expected to threaten strike action.
A triple A hockey player from Burlington, Ontario has posted a video on twitter that went viral after he criticized Jessica Allen for enforcing untrue stereotypes about the game of hockey.
In the video, the hockey player said that he was “truly outraged … the stereotypes that you claimed about us hockey players are not true at all.” He went on to say that his “first idol was a hockey player called Becky Kellar … and she also that all players are white male, which hurt me.”
These comments came after Jessica Allen’s controversial response to Don Cherry’s firing. In a CTV show, Allen stated that she doesn’t “worship at the altar of hockey,” and that the hockey players she knew “all tended to be white boys who weren’t, let’s say, very nice.”
The hockey player went on to say, “we’re more than just a stereotype and you should see us for the people we really are.”
After he posted this video on twitter, the young hockey player received many positive responses, including some from NHL players.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, the hockey player said that he “posted the response because I don’t think it is fair to put that kind of stereotype on all hockey players or on any group of people for that matter. People may look at me and say I am a spoiled white kid but I had to work hard to save money for my first goalie pads.”
He went on to say that “my parents are immigrants and we didn’t have much starting out. But what I do have is a voice and I want to use that voice to stand up for people who need me.”
On Jessica Allen’s apology, he stated that he was “not sure how I feel about it. I was always taught that if I said something or did something that hurt somebody else I should … sincerely apologize to that person. I feel like her apology is more like, I am sorry but… I wish it was that easy.”
He ended by saying, “When you have such a big audience like she does on TV I think it is important to think about what you say.”
Former Thunder Bay City Councillor will be headed back to court on a charge of attempted murder.
The charge stems from a “serious incident” that took place on Vickers Street in Thunder Bay.
Larry Hebert, 72, was remanded into custody Friday morning during a bail court appearance, and is scheduled to appear in court on December 16, according to CBC.
Details surrounding the incident are currently under a publication ban.
Hebert served as a city councilor for Thunder bay for three consecutive terms, having been defeated in the councillor-at-large race last year.
Toronto Police have confirmed that a two-and-a-half-year-old has died after she was struck by a falling air conditioner.
Const. Caroline de Kloet of the Toronto Police said the young girl died in hospital following the strike on Monday outside an east-end apartment building, after the A.C. unit fell eight stories onto her.
De Kloet told media the toddler was with others when she was struck, but information surrounding who they were has yet to be released, or whether or not the family of the girl live within the same area.
De Kloet also said a stroller was at the site of the crime, but it’s not known if the girl was in it.
The spokeswoman said the air conditioner was in a window before it fell.
Neighbours told the Toronto Sun that they were distraught over the horrible incident.
“I was back there twice yesterday doing my recycling,” said one resident named Nicole.
“It could have been me.”
“It could have been anyone,” said another tenant.
“Someone out walking their dog or bringing in groceries.”
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” said De Kloet. “From the interviews that investigators have done, they’ve come to the conclusion that there won’t be any criminal charges.”