RICHARDWARMAN.CA

Welcome to the official website of Canadian human rights lawyer Richard Warman.

Latest:

1. Marc Lemire packs it in. In the wake of #3 below, it appears that Marc Lemire (found by the Federal Court to have been the last known leader of the Heritage Front – a group even the National Post has described as “neo-Nazi”) has given up the ghost in that no one has received any papers seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court by the April 1st deadline. Given the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott, it’s hardly surprising that Mr. Lemire decided to run away bravely. It must be galling to be done in by someone else who disseminated homophobic hate propaganda but got to the Supreme Court first.

2. Richard Warman and Canadian Human Rights Commission v. Marc Lemire – The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has now issued a permanent injunction (cease and desist order) barring Marc Lemire (webmaster of the ‘freedomsite’) from continuing to post hate propaganda to the Internet. Lawyers Giacomo Vigna and Margot Blight who acted for the Canadian Human Rights Commission deserve a great deal of praise for their professionalism and having the patience of Job.

3. Richard Warman and Canadian Human Rights Commission v. Marc Lemire – The Federal Court of Appeal has just released their decision upholding the constitutionality of the prohibition on Internet hate propaganda found in section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This, of course, follows the recent Supreme Court decision in Whatcott upholding civil law controls on hate speech more broadly. In the Warman/CHRC v. Lemire case, not only has the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of s. 13, but they have re-instated the constitutionality of the provision providing for a financial penalty of up to $10,000 for those who post Internet hate propaganda.

Key to the judgement is the rejection that the Internet is some form of Wild West where hate propaganda constitutes legitimate debate – the Court refers to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcott and says:

[64] Whatcott also undermines the argument that section 13 is not a minimal impairment of freedom of expression because the Internet provides ample opportunities for members of vulnerable and targeted groups to respond to hate speech and to engage in an educative exchange of views on controversial topics that are of public interest. A common characteristic of hate speech, Justice Rothstein held, is that far from encouraging the exchange of ideas, it tends to stifle members of the vulnerable group from entering into an educative discussion of its subject matter: paras. 75-76, 104, and 116-117.

[65] In my opinion, these observations are as true of hate messages communicated by the Internet as by any other means. Moreover, because of the extreme nature of prohibited hate speech it strikes me as fanciful to imagine that those who engage in it are likely to be open to an educative exchange of ideas.

In the world of reasonable people, this decision and the Supreme Court’s in Whatcott should put to bed all the vitriolic nonsense around the legitimate use in most Western democracies of civil law to prohibit the poison of hate propaganda – begone imaginary monster:

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

Play that funky music