On Wednesday, February 27, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada had the opportunity to stand up for Canadians’ Right to Freedom of Speech. To call their ruling in R. v. Whatcott an “Epic Fail” would be a gross understatement.
When the Supreme Court starts out by explaining as it did in Whatcott, not that individual rights are the very foundation of our society, but that “All rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are subject to reasonable limitations” you just know what follows is not a resounding defense of Freedom of Speech but a pathetic rationalization of State Censorship.
J. Rothstein wrote the unanimous decision, and his most telling line comes early on:
I conclude that although s. 14(1)(b) of the Code infringes Mr. Whatcott’s rights under both ss. 2(a) and 2(b) of the Charter, the infringement is justified under s. 1 of the Charter.
In his conclusion and despite his finding that Section 14(1)(b) of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, S.S. 1979, c. S-24.1 violates Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and striking down as unconstitutional part of the wording of that section of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, Rothstein wrote:
A prohibition of any representation that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of” any person or class of persons on the basis of a prohibited ground is not a reasonable limit on freedom of expression. Those words are constitutionally invalid and are severed from the statutory provision in accordance with these reasons.
The remaining prohibition of any representation “that exposes or tends to expose to hatred” any person or class of persons on the basis of a prohibited ground is a reasonable limit and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
I’m left shaking my head in disgust.
The boneheads in big chairs just don’t get it.
I don’t care whether or not you agree with what Bill Whatcott actually said. That is thoroughly irrelevant.
Bill Whatcott has the right to express his personal beliefs, be they religious or not.
By turning Freedom of Speech on its head and placing “feelings” above Rights and Freedoms the Supreme Court of Canada makes a complete mockery of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights.
The battle for our Rights and Freedoms just got longer…