While Canada is currently in the throes of an early election, in the province of Quebec there’s growing debate over the future of free speech. The Quebec Parliament is currently debating whether to pass Bill 59, a bill that would grant the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) the authority to investigate so-called “hate speech”, even without a complaint being filed.
The Head of the QHRC, Jacques Frémont has already openly said that he plans to use such powers, “to sue those critical of certain ideas, ‘people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page’” according to Canada’s National Post.
The legality of the QHRC asserting jurisdiction over the entire Canadian Internet-using public is under debate, but the growing consensus in Canada appears to be that this bill is a step backwards.
In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13, of Canada’s Human Rights Act. The elimination of that odious and censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly “offending” Muslims.
But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring “blasphemous” speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.