Friday, June 05, 2009

Frank Klees Will Lift Prohibition On Racist Signs?

At least I think that's what he's proposing:

(Queen’s Park) Newmarket-Aurora MPP and PC Leadership Candidate Frank Klees tabled a Private Member’s Bill that is an essential first step to refocusing the Ontario Human Rights Commission on its original mandate and it received First Reading in the Ontario Legislature today.

The Bill, entitled the “Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2009” will remove Section 13 from the Ontario Human Rights Act. This is the section that Klees and many observers of the Human Rights Commission and its companion, the Human Rights Tribunal, point to as the section of the Act that has given rise to what Klees refers to as the “over-reach” of the HRC Commission into matters dealing with freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Actually, though, this is incorrect. As I have written previously, section 13.1 of the Ontario Code prohibits you from publishing materials that announce "an intention to discriminate". It reads:

A right under Part I is infringed by a person who publishes or displays before the public or causes the publication or display before the public of any notice, sign, symbol, emblem, or other similar representation that indicates the intention of the person to infringe a right under Part I or that is intended by the person to incite the infringement of a right under Part I. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 13 (1).

But 13.1 does not cover broader forms of free expression, as Barbara Hall noted in her critique of Mark Steyn's writing in Macleans:

Section 13 of the Code makes it illegal to display or publish certain kinds of offensive material. But its limits on freedom of expression are narrow. For the Code to apply, the offending item must be a notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other similar representation that indicates an intent to infringe, or incite others to infringe, a right under the Code. Therefore, a sign would fall within this section, but a five-page article conveying the same message would not.

So, in Klees Ontario, would it become possible to have signs like "No blacks need apply" hanging from your shop window? Or, as I wondered here, has Mr. Klees simply confused the federal with the provincial human rights code?

Or, is he assuming that Ontario PC rank and filers, the folks whose votes he is trolling for in his quest to become party leader, are too stupid to distinguish the one from the other?


Darryl said...

Interesting that it passed first reading

Ti-Guy said...

Not that interesting.

bigcitylib said...

1st reading is just the introduction of the bill. No votes etc.

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