Nunavik MP wants to change Criminal Code on hate speech

Bloc Québécois proposes bill that would remove religion as a defence for hate speech and inciting violence

Nunavik MP Sylvie Bérubé along with her Bloc Québécois colleagues wants to change the Criminal Code concerning a defence for hate speech. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Cedric Gallant - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavik MP Sylvie Bérubé is supporting a Bloc Québécois bill that would remove the religious exception to the law that criminalizes hate speech and inciting violence.

“It is quite sad that some people use their position of influence, religious or civil, even impunity conferred to them, to incite violence and hatred,” Bérubé, the MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, said in a French language news release.

The release was issued Tuesday, the day after her party introduced a proposed change to the Criminal Code.

Currently under the Criminal Code, people charged with hate speech or inciting violence can defend themselves in court by arguing they were, in good faith, establishing an argument or opinion based on a religious subject or text.

A private member’s bill, introduced Monday by Bloc MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, would eliminate that defence.

The Bloc’s first attempt to make the same Criminal Code amendment was introduced in November by party leader Yves-François Blanchet.

It was known as Bill C-367 and got first reading in the House of Commons but didn’t move any further through the parliamentary process.

That came after Montreal-based imam Adil Charkaoui said the Islamic god Allah should “take care of Zionist aggressors, take care of the enemies of Gaza,” and used words such as “exterminate” and to “spare none.”

That led the Bloc Québécois to argue this type of dialogue should be considered hate speech, and should be criminalized by the Criminal Code.

Bérubé said her party’s MPs believed Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “grasped the urgency and importance of this issue” when the Bloc proposed the bill the first time.

“Considering the current international context, his inaction is very serious,” she said.

On Monday, the Bloc Québécois tabled the bill again, now renamed Bill C-373, to relaunch the discussion.

“It is about preserving peace of mind amongst Quebecois and Canadians and all communities that hateful words that incite violence should never be protected by the Criminal Code,” Bérubé said.

 

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Flabbergasted on

    In other words, meaning, taking away a part of our “Free Speech”. As did the other dictators throughout the world when they want to dominate their countries, as this party would like to do in quebec.

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    • Posted by Not Even… on

      You mean, taking away a loophole where hate speech is allowed to sneak through.

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  2. Posted by John Ell on

    An opportunity for the Nunavut MP to support this BQ bill. TAIMATUQ.

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  3. Posted by Here’s an Idea on

    Wouldn’t we better off actually defining hate speech?

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    • Posted by iRoll on

      Just because you don’t know something and have no compulsion to research that thing, doesn’t mean it does not exist.

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      • Posted by Glad that We Could Clear that Up on

        Well, you’re doing better than I am as I have searched in vain for a federal definition of hate speech. What I do understand is that expressing opposition to, dislike for, or contempt for an identifiable group is not hate.

        So, what is?

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        • Posted by It took me less than a minute on

          Sections 318 to 320 are the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada that pertain to hate speech. It goes into pages of detail about what constitutes an offence. Case law on Canlii dot org (can’t replicate here as links are not allowed) regarding those three provisions will further expand upon what courts have found as the limits of these statutes.

          It took me less than a minute. You mentioned searching in vain… did you try a simple google search?

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          • Posted by Not As Clear as You Say on

            Nowhere in there does it define hate. I can find definitions of hate motivated crime, but there is no definition of hate.

            “I loathe Woobles. I wouldn’t want a Wooble as a neighbour. I find that everything about Wooble culture and lifestyle turns my stomach.” As I read it, while biased, this does not constitute hate speech – as it shouldn’t. Do you agree that 318-320 gives no definition of hate speech?

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            • Posted by David on

              Hate speech is impossible to legitimately define. Any attempt at defining it will leave the judge’s verdict wide open to personal bias, opinion and background.

              The polarization we see in Canada today in regard to the conflict in Israel should serve as a stark warning how dangerously subjective hate definitions truly are.

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            • Posted by It took me less than a minute again on

              In less than a minute I found a definition in case law from the Supreme Court of Canada. It was on a Wikipedia page:

              “Hatred is predicated on destruction, and hatred against identifiable groups therefore thrives on insensitivity, bigotry and destruction of both the target group and of the values of our society. Hatred in this sense is a most extreme emotion that belies reason; an emotion that, if exercised against members of an identifiable group, implies that those individuals are to be despised, scorned, denied respect and made subject to ill-treatment on the basis of group affiliation.”

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          • Posted by David on

            If it is so easily definable, please explain why the Ernst Zundel, James Keegstra, and David Ahenakew (three of Canada’s most significant hate law cases) were all over turned on appeal at least once?

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  4. Posted by It took me less than a minute on

    Is it impossible to define? Or do you think all of the definitions are not “legitimate”.

    I found several, mostly consistent, definitions (including a page with cross jurisdictional definitions) in a short google search. This includes definitions that are part of Supreme Court case law.

    Yes, there are appeals of hate crime rulings, like any legislation. It’s been extremely litigated because it deals with free speech which is a sensitive topic.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t a definition, an agreed upon definition or that it’s hard to find it. Again…less than a minute and with a google search.

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    • Posted by David on

      It’s impossible to legitimately define for a variety of reasons. While Canada and other countries have existing hate speech laws, they have been largely political exercises designed for show much more than substance. That is why a clear cut case of a recorded individual doing an interview like David Ahenakew, had his conviction overturned.

      Speaking of political exercises, that is exactly what MP Sylvie Bérubé and the Bloc are guilty of. There is an ongoing war/conflict in the Middle East, with members of each side trying to kill the other legally. Cheering on or supporting your “team” is hardly hate speech and has happened in every single conflict since the dawn of time.

      Further, free speech is more than a sensitive topic, it is a charter right. AS well, Freedom of religion is a charter right. Both of these charter rights severely muddy these waters making convictions extremely difficult to almost impossible. The point of legislation should never be to intimidate citizens or give authorities the ability to pointlessly charge citizens when convictions will never occur. Not in a free country at least.

      The real Achilles Heel here in the Bloc’s Bill is the legal concept of mens rea or the guilty mind. You cannot convict someone based on their speech alone, you must also prove their “intent”. Which is extremely subjective and context matters. When you couple intent with that individual’s charter rights, we are far beyond muddying the waters. Your only hope of conviction is if the person charged cannot afford a lawyer. So what is the real point of the legislation? Control?

      So what I am saying is, hate speech laws are nothing more than “feel good” laws designed more to allow special interest groups to cheer their victory and make memes for Facebook, than actual public safety.

  5. Posted by Northerner on

    Why are women in politics and are leaders in religious groups? Have the roles reversed for men and for women? Signs of the end of times lol

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  6. Posted by Nunavimmiuk on

    I find majority of French adult people are holy people , right? Calisse Tabarnak

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  7. Posted by Leave us alone on

    how about just shutting down facebook. It has hatespeech everyday and fraud accounts are many.

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