A new ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal is a new twist in the
headache-inducing story of the hate-speech provisions of the Canadian
Human Rights Act. Politically, it makes the issue muddier, as it will
allow supporters of those provisions to argue that they have the courts
in their corner. But the courts tell governments what they can and can’t
do, not what they should and shouldn’t.
The court found that Section 13, even with its penalty provision,
does not violate the Constitution. It is a limit on free speech, but in
the court’s view, an allowable limit.
The ruling is interesting, from a political standpoint, because
Parliament passed a private member’s bill last year repealing Section
13. The ruling suggests that if any government wanted to reinstate
Section 13 or something like it, it might be able to do so without
violating the Constitution.