Posted: November 24, 2008, 5:20 PM by Kelly McParland
The scandal-plagued Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has had a rough year — and it just got rougher.
On Monday, Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor, released his report on the CHRC’s troubling penchant for Internet censorship. Moon had been hand-picked by the CHRC to review its conduct, so the whole arrangement had at first looked pretty cozy. In the past, Moon had written favourably about government limits on free speech. That, plus a large payment for his brief report, made Moon’s review look like a PR stunt, especially since the CHRC simultaneously hired the pricey lobby firm Hill & Knowlton to provide “communications” advice. It all looked like a strategy to offset six months of bad press — not to mention embarrassing investigations into the CHRC’s conduct by the RCMP, the Privacy Commissioner and Parliament’s Justice Committee.
But to the surprise of critics like me, Moon recommended that section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act — the so-called “hate speech” provision, which empowers the CHRC to censor the Internet and other electronic media — be repealed. Instead of a whitewash, Moon’s report was the opposite — another nail in the coffin of the thought police.
The CHRC was surprised, too, and obviously not pleased. Although Moon’s report used the word “repeal” 11 times — it was his primary recommendation — that word appears nowhere in the CHRC’s press release announcing his findings.