It appears the Harper government doesn’t have the political stomach right now to engage in any kind of major defense of free speech rights in Canada. NoApologies.ca has obtained a copy of a document circulated to all Conservative MP’s from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s office late last week. The document is entitled “Talking points re: CHRA & CHRC”, and it basically instructs MP’s to keep a very low profile on any discussion surrounding Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. You can see a copy of the confidential paper here. Liberal MP Keith Martin served notice earlier this month of a motion he wants to bring before Parliament to scrap Section 13(1) of the Act. This is the section that has been widely criticised for suppressing free speech rights. Critics say the section is being used by Muslim and gay rights activists to silence anyone who disagrees with them. The document tells MP’s repeatedly to stress the point that the Harper government “is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights”, and that the Canadian Human Rights Commission is an “independent agency” that administers the Human Rights Act “without interference from the government.”As for the specifics of Martin’s motion, the MP’s are instructed to say that the motion was “just recently tabled and will not be up for debate in the near future,” and that they should assure their constituents that if and when the issue “comes before the house for debate, (they) will follow it closely and.. arrive at a position at that time.”The document also instructs MP’s to essentially shift the focus away from the Section 13 discussion by talking about the government’s ongoing efforts to repeal Section 67 of the Act. That section essentially exempts First Nations from any and all provisions or enforcement of the Act in cases where discrimination happens on native land. Nicholson’s document says that Section of the Act essentially prevents First Nations people “from receiving the same legal protection against discrimination that is afforded to all other Canadians,” and that MP’s should use the line “My Canada includes First Nations” when discussing the Section 67 issue.
The link is at http://www.noapologies.ca/2008/02/news-for-feb-12-08.html
The link to the “talking points” document is at: http://www.noapologies.ca/CHRC%20Talking%20Points.doc