Quebec Decides It Needs ANOTHER Hate Speech Law, Only One That's Worse Than The Law It Already Has

from the if-it-ain't-broke,-keep-trying-to-break-it-[fixes-tbd] dept

The best way to combat speech you find offensive is more speech. Despite it being the best way to handle these situations, it's also the least-used option. And, in legislators' hands, "more speech" is rarely on the table. But "more law" almost always is.

An editorial from the Montreal Gazette discussing the Quebec government's proposal for a new "hate speech" law not only points out the potentially damaging side effects of the poorly-drafted bill, but other aspects that should have prevented it from ever getting this far in the legislative process.

To begin with, there are already laws in place to deal with "hate speech."

Certain types of communication are considered unacceptable, particularly speech that intentionally incites others to violence or hatred against a particular group. The Criminal Code already provides for this, and more importantly, it sets out clear parameters for the successful prosecution of hate-speech offences and specifies the conditions under which statements that some may see as hate speech are legally permissible. And as with all crimes, conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
There it is. A law already exists to address these issues. But this law apparently has problems -- like "clear parameters" and requirements for "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." The new law will have neither of those.
The legislation, in its current form, fails even to define hate speech, leaving the grounds for a complaint to the provincial human rights commission open to interpretation. Also of concern is that the complainant may remain anonymous. Once a complaint is received, the bill would grant the commission sweeping new powers to investigate an alleged offence, and to then forward cases to the human rights tribunal for action.

The tribunal, in turn, could decide — based on a level of proof that it determines itself — whether a person has engaged in or disseminated hate speech, or “acted in such a manner as to cause such acts to be committed.” If so, fines could be levied and names added to a publicly available list for an indeterminate period of time.
These changes for the worse have been prompted by critics of the existing law, as it fails to criminalize enough speech and raises the bar too high for those hoping to punish people for offending them. Passing this law would allow hecklers to exercise their veto power more frequently, more effectively and, as a bonus, completely anonymously.

The end result, of course, is the chilling of speech. Currently, there's a measure of due process to the proceedings. If this bill passes, that's gone. And with no clear standard expressed in the bill itself, all sorts of previously protected speech will be potentially subject to criminal penalties.

But that's only part of the problem. The other issue is that the bill seems to be a quid pro quo exchange meant to give the government a pass on yet another targeted restriction.
The anti-hate bill was introduced as part of a “package” of sorts, rolled out in June in response to (among other things) concerns about the radicalization of impressionable young people and a rising tide of public anti-Muslim sentiment. The package also included a detailed anti-radicalization strategy and another bill that would ban the wearing of face-coverings while giving or receiving a public service. The face-covering ban will almost exclusively affect Muslims, so the hate-speech bill could be seen as a kind of olive branch to the community, and another way to defend against increasingly vicious anti-Muslim rhetoric in public discourse.
So, the Quebec government wants to crack down on radicalization and force Muslims to look "less Muslim" when engaging with the Quebec government. In exchange, everyone -- not just Muslims -- will be allowed to anonymously report nearly anything that offends them to the commission and allow the bill's vague machinations to take over. It's written from the ground up to be abused. And while it may be a slight nod towards the Muslim community the government is slapping with other restrictions, it's a safe bet that Muslims will also be frequently targeted by hate speech complaints to the tribunal. By leaving the burden of proof entirely in the tribunal's hands, any and all complaints are valid until otherwise determined by a third party in its sole discretion, with no input from the accused. How could that possibly go wrong?


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  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:00am

    Only in Quebec. Bad enough that the Quebec government has language police ( no really, they do ) who will act on a complaint from the member of the public if you see too much English in a sign or say restaurant menu or if the french isn't predominately bigger than the English on the sign.

    The let's try to get muslim's to not be so muslim thing has been brewing for a while now. The funny thing is though, if you speak English in Quebec, there are francophones who will get mad and tell you to speak french first. Even though a lot of people in Quebec speak both languages.

    So in Quebec, they seem to have this idea that the rest of Canada discriminates against them for being french and wanting to speak that first and English second, couldn't be further from the truth.

    It's policies like this and Quebec's attitude towards non francophone's that we are discriminating against them, when it really is the other way around.

    This policy just furthers that point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      The let's try to get Muslims to not be so Muslim thing has been brewing for a while now.
      FTFY. After all, would you write Christians as 'christian's'?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      The let's try to get muslim's to not be so muslim thing has been brewing for a while now.

      Keep in mind that as always in Quebec, it's about separatism.

      For example last year's "Quebec values charter" that would prohibit public sector employees from wearing religious symbols. (With exemptions for Christian symbols because tradition.) It was created by the separatist Parti Québécois government, because not enough people were interested in separation.

      Their solution:

      - Create an issue that would appeal to the lowest, least tolerant, common denominator.

      - Devise a solution (the Charter, stripping away religious freedom) that is intolerable to Canada. Paint the other Quebec parties who reject it as anti-Quebec.

      - When Canada rejects it as going against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, paint that as Canada rejecting Quebec, and stomping on Quebecers' right to pass their own laws. Leverage that rejection to garner more votes and ultimately separation.

      The bill died when the 2014 election was called, but it gave rise to the "anti-Muslim sentiment" as yet another flavor of anti-anglo, anti-anyone-not-French-and-separatist sentiment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 3:02am

        Re: Re:

        You almost got it right. Only rednecks and separatists are racist uneducated idiots. This is exactly why the bill died at the elections: Quebecois kicked them out for being racist idiots.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 11:12am

      Re:

      Only in Quebec.

      No, these HRCs have earned their hated reputation across Canada. I thought we'd finally beaten them into the dust bin of history about a decade ago. It makes me angry every time I hear they're still around.

      They remind me of the Nazis' "People's Courts" tribunals where the judges were the demagogic prosecutors screaming insults at defendants. The worst of them had to be warned to keep it down because he was overloading the sound system. Goebels was taping them for the newsreels.

      I thought we'd shamed our politicians into avoiding this foolishness.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:04am

    The legislation, in its current form, fails even to
    define hate speech
    , leaving the grounds for a complaint to the provincial human rights commission open to interpretation. Also of concern is that the complainant may remain anonymous. Once a complaint is received, the bill would grant the commission sweeping new powers to investigate an alleged offence, and to then forward cases to the human rights tribunal for action.

    Hopefully, the human rights tribunal will act for the human rights of the accused as much as it does those of the accusers'. Even more hopefully, this bill won't become law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:06am

    Let me get this right...

    particularly speech that intentionally incites others to violence or hatred against a particular group

    Does this mean that Governments that just told their soldiers to go and kill these guys are breaking their own laws? This is specifically and INTENTIONALLY inciting violence right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jdub (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:06am

    Since Quebec hates the rest of the country, and has been wanting to separate for a long time. I wonder if we could turn this legislation against them, and declare there separation speech as hate speech against the rest of the country?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 4:28pm

      Re:

      you have it wrong, separatist speech is protected while anti separatist speech is clearly hate speech and will be prosecuted to the fullest under this new law.

      Remember if you are for a separate Quebec you are exercising free speech if you are against it you are the scum of the earth propogating hate speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:24am

    Sharia courts traditionally do not rely on lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves. Trials are conducted solely by the judge, and there is no jury system. There is no pre-trial discovery process, and no cross-examination of witnesses.


    from the wikipedia article on Sharia law, subsetionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia#Legal_and_court_proceedings

    Does that look like what the Quebec wants?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:51am

    Human rights? Seriously?

    Since when is any human, individually or as a member of any group of any kind, endowed by his Creator with the inalienable right to not have people say mean things about them? The whole idea is beyond ridiculous.

    And the dirty little secret that the people pushing this agenda never want to acknowledge is that stereotypes--both negative and positive--exist for a reason: they arise because they are generally consistent with most outsiders' observations of the group in question. In most cases, when a group has a bad reputation, it's because they earned it.

    I wish I could find my old copy of Ender's Game to get the quote right, but I moved a while back and it's still packed in a box somewhere. At one point, Grahf tells Ender that if he doesn't want people saying hurtful and hateful things about him, the only way he can stop it is to live in such an exemplary way that no one would believe the accusations. People worried about hate speech would do well to take this advice to heart, instead of doing stupid stuff like pushing for this legislation. That only further validates people's negative perception of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:48am

      Re: Human rights? Seriously?

      And the dirty little secret that the people pushing this agenda never want to acknowledge is that stereotypes--both negative and positive--exist for a reason: they arise because they are generally consistent with most outsiders' observations of the group in question.

      In other words, they're based mostly in ignorance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:52am

    what the hell is wrong with people, especially people in positions of power, those who were voted into the positions to do the right thing. then they come out with shit like this!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 10:17am

      Re:

      ...those who were voted into the positions to do the right thing. then they come out with shit like this!...

      Those who are in appointed positions are just as bad!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Funny thing about those in power, a good portion of them really don't like being criticized, and see nothing wrong with proposing and passing laws making it so that people can't criticize them or others.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mattshow (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 9:57am

    The end result, of course, is the chilling of speech. Currently, there's a measure of due process to the proceedings. If this bill passes, that's gone. And with no clear standard expressed in the bill itself, all sorts of previously protected speech will be potentially subject to criminal penalties.


    A nitpick, but an important one. In Canada, only the Federal government can pass criminal law. Quebec might be about to pass a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad law, but the one thing it can't do is result in criminal penalties.

    Which doesn't mean the remedies the tribunal can order will be painless. In addition to whatever powers the Human Rights Tribunal already has, this legislation grants it the power to order fines of up to $10,000. And of course, and just getting dragged before such a tribunal will be a huge pain in the ass and will carry a stigma.

    But technically, they won't be characterized as criminal penalties. That sounds like a petty distinction, but it can be a pretty big distinction when you're trying to cross an international border or applying for certain jobs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 10:51am

    The people in Quebec are good for the most part but the 40% that want to separate are well, Traitors and need to be dealt with as such.

    Until this happens, and they learn to speak real french ( not some bastardized version of it ) and they are willing to be Canadian and not expect special treatment, they will not really be part of Canada.

    They need to change their license plates from "Je me souviens", to "I Hate Canada" as that would show how they really feel about us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 12:56pm

      Re:

      "The people in Quebec are good for the most part but the 40% that want to separate are well, Traitors and need to be dealt with as such."

      And please what whould we do with 40% of the population you call traitors ? Shoot them ? Incarcerate them ?

      "and they learn to speak real french ( not some bastardized version of it ) "

      What is that even supposed to mean ? And just how good is YOUR french ?

      "They need to change their license plates from "Je me souviens", to "I Hate Canada" as that would show how they really feel about us."

      Shouldn't it be "Je Hais Le Canada" or "Fuck les tabarnak d'anglais sales" ?

      Anyway, you don't seem to know that many french people do you ?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Klaus, 25 Aug 2015 @ 2:23am

      Re:

      I have an aunt who lives in Quebec. Her view on separation and separatists is a huge 'meh' followed by a gallic shrug.

      Not everyone is as hostile and embittered as you seem to be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 1:09pm

    No one has a right not to be offended.

    It really is that simple, yet so many people seem to think otherwise, as though the 'right' not to be offended is somehow more important than the right to speak freely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Face in the Crowd, 24 Aug 2015 @ 2:06pm

    Face Coverings

    "The package also included . . . another bill that would ban the wearing of face-coverings while giving or receiving a public service"

    Are you sure Muslims are the target and not the makeup industry?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 24 Aug 2015 @ 6:09pm

    Face Coverings

    "The package also included . . . another bill that would ban the wearing of face-coverings while giving or receiving a public service"

    Does this mean their SWAT teams can't wear masks while "giving public service"? ("Law Enforcement" is (supposed to be) a "Public Service" afterall.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Klaus, 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:03pm

      Re: Face Coverings

      I'm already wearing my Grouch Marx ensemble in my car day to day [ANPR cameras are now taking front-on pictures to aid the identification of would be traffic code violators]. Can i now really not wear this round my local shopping arcade?

      /disappointed

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      drew (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Face Coverings

      Would this also include any medical staff in emergency theatres who might be publicly funded?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2015 @ 11:53pm

    And once again, the cowardly politicians starts something they cant finish and the only thing it achieves is more confusion and hate.
    Oh well, at least we can say that more white people support minorities than the other way around...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Frank L. Boorman (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 2:28am

    Bill 59, "An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals."

    Bill 59, "Is Actual hate speech, inciting acts of violence, and individuals should be protected better from legislative provisions."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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