Friday, February 13, 2009

The Bull in the china shop

The Prime Minister of Canada has acknowledged that Section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act, unduly limiting free speech, is a problem, particularly in the manner in which public agencies have interpreted it. A parliamentary justice committee currently is examining the issue. Professor Richard Moon, delivering a report commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, one of the very public agencies that have been castigated for creating a problem with Section 13, has recommended abolishing the Section.

But, back in good old Ontario, Barbara “the Bull” Hall, the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner, has tabled a report to her agency recommending a new government speech body be set up to control all publications, including web content.

The National Post had an excellent editorial on this initiative yesterday. This observation was particularly apt:

"Media has a responsibility to engage in fair and unbiased journalism," Ms. Hall has said previously. But because no one has god-like powers to discern accurately what is "fair" and "unbiased," then no one -- not even the chief commissioner -- is qualified to sit in judgment of which articles and opinions meet those criteria and which do not. Most people's interpretation of fair and unbiased reporting corresponds very closely with their own opinions on the subject at issue, and Barbara Hall is no different. She has been granted no special powers not given to other mortals to divine the truth; therefore, neither she nor any other pompous purveyor of social concern has the ability to judge which speech should be free and which not.

Read the rest here

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