The U.S. Department of State reports on human rights activities in foreign countries, including Canada.
The March 6, 2007 report on Canada is quite matter-of-fact in disclosing limits on freedom of speech:
Freedom of Speech and Press . . .
The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may limit free speech in the name of goals such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting gender equality. It also has ruled that the benefits of limiting hate speech and promoting equality are sufficient to outweigh the freedom of speech clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is the country's bill of rights incorporated in the country's constitution. . . .
Inciting hatred (in certain cases) or genocide is a criminal offense, but the Supreme Court has set a high threshold for such cases, specifying that these acts must be proven to be willful and public. The Broadcasting Act prohibits programming containing any abusive comment that would expose individuals or groups to hatred or contempt. Provincial-level film censorship, broadcast licensing procedures, broadcasters' voluntary codes curbing graphic violence, and laws against hate literature and pornography also impose some restrictions on the media.
A 2001 Report on Human Rights in Canada trumpeted how much easier it is to bring a human rights complaint to a Human Rights Commission than to a regular court:
Canada’s domestic human rights protections can be divided into two categories:
1) traditional civil liberties and due process rights, fundamental freedoms, and political rights, which consist essentially of constraints on governmental and legislative action; and
2) anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit discrimination on various grounds in society generally, and which apply to both public and private actors.
The application of the first category of domestic human rights protections is largely entrusted to the courts. The second category of rights, by contrast, is at least in the first instance enforced by specialized administrative bodies (i.e., the various human rights commissions).
Both the ordinary courts and the human rights commissions offer adjudication on individual complaints regarding human rights violations as well as various judicially enforceable remedies where violations are made out. However, in theory at least, the human rights commission model offers a number of advantages over the traditional courts. Typically, human rights commissions:
·are comprised of persons with expertise in human rights;
·have a broader institutional mandate, which includes promotion of and public education about human rights;
·are more accessible to complainants (they have less formal procedures and, more importantly, if they accept the complaint, the commissions will usually investigate and pursue it on behalf of the complainant);
·can initiate their own reviews of policies and practices, even where no complaint has been filed, and can issue public reports accordingly; and
·are obliged to report regularly to Parliament or to the provincial or territorial legislature, as the case may be, not only on their own operations, but also on the state of human rights in their respective jurisdictions.
Related Posts (on one page):