You don’t hear a lot of hate speech against the White majority in Canada so who is being protected in the repeal of protections against hate speech under the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC)?
The fact that a White supremacist group celebrated Bill C-304 – a private member’s bill to repeal the power of the CHRC to investigate hate speech sent over the Internet and by telephone – should be a dead giveaway.
The federal government can make an argument that for the CHRC to investigate such activities is duplication since this crime is already covered by the Criminal Code, making the dissemination of hate speech on the Internet or telephone illegal. However, what this bill does in effect is further weaken the CHRC.
It is no secret that many conservatives hold the view that the CHRC oversteps its boundaries and therefore any attempt to weaken it is considered a victory. We anticipate that the strategy is to chip away at the powers of the CHRC a little at a time until conservatives are comfortable that it is irrelevant.
This bill was processed with little publicity and therefore did not catch the attention of those who would be most affected by such a change. Furthermore, it fits in with this government’s ideological outlook of making big government less intrusive in the lives of the people of this country. No one wants a ‘Big Brother’ state where every muscle twitch is legislated, but the government has a responsibility to ensure that the rights of all its citizens are fairly protected.
Canada is a changing state where the influence of immigration is making it a different place than it was even 50 years ago. We want to be sure that we are not setting a foundation for a country that eventually looks like Europe of today where there are stifling tensions between traditional and 21st Century Europeans.
The ability of people to move from one part of the globe to another is now highly fluid and where people see a hope for prosperity many will, of necessity, reach for it. What the government needs to be doing and where its energy needs to be expended is on ways to support an open and accepting mindset among its citizens. We need greater communication from the federal government on the wealth of benefits that accrue from welcoming the world to this land.
What we have instead is a steady tone from the feds that we have to protect our borders from various nefarious foreign types trying to get here by whatever means necessary.
Canada has had a consistent history of being very cautious about welcoming peoples of the world inside its borders, doing so only when it seemed necessary for economic efficacy. So new Canadians were never so much welcomed with a tone that suggested open arms but rather with the message that they were being done a favour. As such, many came with the idea that they would work hard to make money in Canada and then retire to their country of origin.
But many have stayed and made this country their home. That has made the old guard insecure and allowed for a certain acceptance of an antagonistic view that is being supported by the current federal government. All you have to do is look at the record of comments from federal politicians such as Security Minister Vic Toews and Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney to grasp the subtext.
It is rare that a private members bill passes in Parliament; therefore we have to ask why such a rare occasion was visited on this particular bill.
One strategy that a government can use to further its agenda without making a lot of waves or getting a lot of attention is through private members bills. We believe that this is the case with this particular bill. The argument is being made that it will save government money by not having duplication, but the Conservative government – and conservatives in general, especially in the right-wing media – really don’t like or want the CHRC in their way so it should come as no surprise that the government will do all it can to get rid of this body if Canadians do not wake up to that reality.