Kent Hehr, Liberal MLAA for Calgary-Buffalo:
Mr. Hehr: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I bring this amendment.It is again a recommendation by the Sheldon Chumir foundation that returns an element of free speech to our way of life here in Alberta and is, I believe, really the way our society is meant to operate and how we are supposed to best communicate ideas. Ilook to the Sheldon Chumir foundation, who studied this issue long and hard. I, too, agree with their recommendations, and that’s why I bring them forward here. Free speech is a fundamental right in this society that shouldn’t be intertwined very easily with our human rights commissions.
Many of the most virulent criticisms leveled at human rightscommissions over the last few years concern provisions that seek tomake statements of opinion illegal. Some of the high profile caseshave concerned opinions on the part of the Christian right about theevil (in their eyes) of homosexuality and cartoons and articles perceived by some Muslims to be offensive or even, according to their faith, blasphemous. We do not endorse the sometimes offensive views expressed by people and organizations who havecome under attack pursuant to legal provisions such as section 3 ofthe HRCMA. But we do have grave misgivings about the threats to free expression inherent in such provisions. Accordingly, they have offered some revisions, which you see before you in the act. Really, these are sort of changes, but the nuances are clear. This will return the wording of our act to the pre 1996 version
The Deputy Chair: The hon. Minister of Culture and Community Spirit [, Lindsay Blackett].
Mr. Blackett: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Fundamentally the government caucus believes in free speech. We’ve had a long discussion, and [yada yada yada..]
Note that the Stelmach Tories have 72 of the 83 seats in the Alberta Legislature. The fate of amendment A4 was entirely in their hands. Note that the whole process of Bill 44 was an exercise in balancing off the rights (pandering to?) Alberta's Socon and Gay communities. Speechies got sweet FA. Suck on that, Speechies.