Document Type

Journal Article


Academic writing and media commentary on Canadian hate speech laws has focused heavily on the offences created by the Criminal Code and the restrictions in the Canadian Human Rights Act on telephonic communication of hate messages. In both cases, this intensity of interest has been prompted by a range of factors including the national operation of these laws, their mobilization against well-known and attention seeking racist organisations and individuals, and the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada has been called upon to rule on the constitutional validity and interpretation of both federal statutes. Consequently, there is a substantial body of academic writing on the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Keegstra and Taylor v. Canadian Human Rights Commission, focusing on the Court’s resolution of the tension between the protection afforded to freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the criminalization of hate speech under the Criminal Code. Comparatively little attention has been devoted to the operation of restrictions on various forms of hate speech contained in the human rights statutes of almost all Canadian provinces and territories. And yet, provincial hate speech laws have a long history in Canada and have been invoked on a number of occasions in efforts to restrict and/or sanction conduct by individuals or groups that promotes ill-feeling and discrimination towards particular minorities, including Jews, Aboriginal people, people of colour, and gays and lesbians.