FREE SPEECH URGENT — E-MAIL SENATORS IMMEDIATELY, C-304 Is Now Being Debated for Third and Final Reading

FREE SPEECH URGENT — E-MAIL SENATORS IMMEDIATELY, C-304 Is Now Being Debated for Third and Final Reading
Yesterday, June 25, C-304, which had recently received Second Reading in the Senate, was before the Senate Human Rights Committee. Bill C-304 is crucial in regaining some measure of freedom of speech in Canada. Introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons by Alberta MP Brian Storseth last year, it was past by the House of Commons, June 8, 2012. This Bill would repeal Sec. 13 (Internet censorship — truth is no defence, intent is no defence) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which makes criticism of privileged minorities very risky.
Censorship had some pals at the Senate’s Human Rights Committee, including Sen. Munson who subjected Mr. Storseth to some withering questioning.
However, this morning, according to the office of Sen. Robina Jaffer, Bill C-304 was “reported out of committee, without amendment.”
This is good news for freedom of speech.
The final step is now Third and final Reading. I spoke to the office of senior Ontario Senator Robert Runciman this afternoon. Bill C-304 will be debated either later today or tomorrow for Third Reading.
Those of us who have fought Internet censorship since the days of the Zundelsite case, 1996-2002, this is an exciting moment.
We need your help NOW! I don’t mean tonight or tomorrow. Bill C-304 may come up momentarily.
Please e-mail the Senate. The list is enclosed.
Please be brief and to the point.
Urge the Senators to vote for Bill C-304.
I enclose my letter on behalf of CAFE
Paul Fromm

Canadian Association for Free Expression

Box 332,

Rexdale, Ontario, M9W 5L3

Ph: 905-56-4455; FAX: 905-566-4820

Paul Fromm, B.Ed, M.A. Director


June 26, 2013

Memo to the Senate of Canada: Please Protect Internet Free Speech — Support Bill C-304 on Third Reading
Last June, the House of Commons passed a private Member’s Bill, Bill C-304 which repealed Sec. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Sec. 13 had been a vague and much abused form of Internet censorship, making an offence out of views expressed over the Internet that were not criminal. Truth was not a defence. Intent was not a defence. The wording was  vague — communicating views “likely to expose” designated or privileged groups to “hatred or contempt.” No harm had to be proven. In fact, it was not necessary to prove that anyone other than the complainant had ever even seen the post in question. “Contempt” would capture any negative criticism. For instance, if smokers were a protected group, Internet comments stating smokers had bad breath and were damaging their skin and had higher rates of lung cancer would be “likely” to expose them to “contempt” is not hatred. Truth would not matter.
Until the Marc Lemire decision in 2009, Sec. 13 had a 100% conviction rate. That alone should have set off alarm bells. People are frequently charged with murder or robbery or fraud and acquitted. However, there were virtually no defences under Sec. 13. Worse, most of the prosecutions were driven by a chronic complainer with an admitted political agenda. This man worked for the Canadian Human Rights Commission during some of the time he was filing complaints. He has now moved over to the Department of National Defence. He admitted in a talk to Anti-Racist Action, a Toronto group with a history of violence, that he was seeking to “shut down” through “maximum disruption” those with an ideology he opposed.
Most of the victims of Sec. 13 complaints were poor and obscure people, unable to afford a lawyer. On behalf of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, I acted as a “representative” for half a dozen of these people. I saw lives and reputations ruined. The long drawn-out proceedings were an abuse BY process.
The investigators and prosecutors for the Canadian Human Rights Commission acted more like a political police than officials steeped in our tradition of fairness. When the lead “hate” investigator was questioned during the Warman v. Marc Lemire Tribunal, he was asked what weight he gave to freedom of expression when he was examining a website: “None,” he responded, “freedom of expression is an American idea.” Oh, really?
There is an urgency here. Canadians continue to suffer. Terry Tremaine, a former lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, was charged under Sec. 13 and found guilty. He was then charged for much of the same material under Sec. 319 (“hate law”) of the Criminal Code. Last fall, a Regina judge dismissed the case. However, Mr. Tremaine had been hit with a lifetime “cease and desist” order by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal forbidding him from posting the same or similar comments to the ones at issue at the Tribunal. But what is “similar”? Although he tried to tone down his language, he was eventually found guilty of “contempt of court” for not removing the original posts, although the Tribunal’s order, as worded, had not required this. Subject to an appeal, he may soon head off to jail for up to six months!
Jail for expressing non-violent opinions on a website in another country? Such repression and micro-managing of opinion are unacceptable in a free society.
The Canadian press and many MPs rightly criticize restrictions on free speech in other countries. The case of Chinese architect, artist and dissident Wei Wei comes to mind. He was jailed briefly and then stripped of his political rights — not allowed to talk to the foreign media — for a year. Many Canadians rightly voiced their concern. Yet, Sec. 13 puts its victims under a lifetime gag!
In passing Bill C-304, the House of Commons went a long way to securing Internet freedom in Canada.  We urge you to do likewise, do the right thing and vote “aye” to give Third Reading to Bill C-304. 
Respectfully submitted.
Paul Fromm
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