Hate Speech Provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act Repealed

On June 26, 2013, private member’s Bill 304, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom) to repeal Section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act to ensure the Act doesn’t infringe on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms received royal assent.

Section 13 prohibited the communication of messages that were likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt, by reason of the fact that the persons targeted are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination such as race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. We talked about it in previous Slaw posts here and here.

The repeal will take effect after a one-year phase-in period.

Producing and disseminating hate speech remains a crime in Canada, but is now solely regulated under Section 319 of the Criminal Code which prohibits public incitement and wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, defined as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation” and carries up to a two-year prison sentence.


  1. Note that the Criminal Code requires Attorney General approval. And, as we have seen recently in the case of Ezra Levant’s hate-rant against the Roma on SUNTV, that approval can be withheld even in a slam-dunk case. (Ontario Attorney General John Gerretson refused to proceed, despite police and regional Crown’s wish to do so. It appears that he was actually cowed by Levant.)

    Minorities in Canada now have, effectively, no protection against publicly-expressed bigotry whatsoever. What a victory for free speech.

  2. Yosie Saint-Cyr

    Yes John… totally agree… it is a sad sad turn of events for Canada.