Status of free speech in Canada compared with the U.S.:
In the U.S., a person cannot falsely yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre. But they are free to say just about anything else without danger of criminal prosecution.
All three were immune from prosecution due to the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment which guarantees almost complete freedom of speech in the country.
(We do not wish to overemphasize the advocacy of genocide by fundamentalist Christians. However, we are unaware of any other groups promoting genocide motivated by religion in the U.S.)
Canadians do not have this level of freedom of speech. Its citizens are not allowed to incite or promote hatred in some circumstance, or to advocate genocide or against certain specified groups, or actually commit genocide.
The Criminal Code of Canada: Hate propaganda sections:
Prior to 2004-APR-29, the "Hate Propaganda" section of the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 318 & 319) prohibited the expression of hatred against -- or the advocacy of genocide of -- four "identifiable groups:" people distinguished by their "color, race, religion or ethnic origin." 1
Curiously, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other criteria were not included. Apparently one could have delivered a speech that "willfully promotes hatred" -- even one which "advocates or promotes genocide" -- against women, men, inter-sexual persons, the disabled, heterosexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals, cisgendered or transgender persons, transsexuals, and others while enjoying immunity of prosecution under the law.
Bill C-250 added sexual orientation to the list of "identifiable groups" when it was signed into law on 2004-APR-29. However, there are still many categories of people who remain unprotected against genocide advocacy and hate speech.
Section 319 in the hate propaganda section of the criminal code:This section deals with public incitement of hatred:
Section 318 in the hate propaganda section of the criminal code:
This section covers the advocacy or promotion of genocide.
However, only certain categories of individuals are currently in identified groups: namely those "distinguished by their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."
Apparently, one can advocate genocide against women, men, inter-sexual persons, the mentally or physically disabled, cisgendered or transgender persons, transsexuals, the elderly, etc. and be immune from prosecution under this law. This is an omission that we find very strange.
If convicted, the perpetrator may be imprisoned for up to five years.
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