Canadian Human Rights Commission Launches Independent Review On Hate Messaging on the Internet

Update: Some Interesting quotes from Professor Richard Moon that may bode ill for Macleans/Steyn.

Hmmm a face saving exercise? Hoping to stave off the inevitable? Or is it simply an attempt to do an end run around the proposed review by the Justice Committee? … The Flea notes:

“I am told foxes are extremely vigilant when asked to watch henhouses.”

Canadian Human Rights Commission Launches Independent Review On Hate Messaging on the Internet

(Ottawa, June 17, 2008) – The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has launched a comprehensive policy review of how best to address hate messages on the Internet. Leading constitutional law expert Professor Richard Moon of the University of Windsor will conduct an independent study as an important part of this review.

Speaking today to the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA), CHRC Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch, Q.C. said, “The current debate on how to balance freedom of expression with the need to protect Canadians from hate messages in the Internet age is an important one. We are confident that this review will provide insight into the issues and move the discourse one step further.”

Growing public interest and continued advances in technology all point to a need to examine issues surrounding hate on the Internet. The Commission is dedicated to ensuring that the Canadian Human Rights Act remains effective. “Legislation must evolve – when necessary – to respond and reflect changes in society,” said Lynch.

Professor Moon is a prominent expert on freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and religion, and the structural aspects of constitutional rights protection. He is the author of the seminal book, “The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression”.

He will conduct legal and policy research and analysis and make recommendations on the most appropriate mechanisms for addressing hate messages on the Internet, with specific emphasis on section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the role of the CHRC. His work will include a review of existing statutory and regulatory mechanisms, an examination of the mandates of human rights commissions and tribunals, and a consideration of Canada’s international human rights obligations.

The review is to begin immediately and Professor Moon is expected to submit his report to the Commission this fall.

Scope of Review to be conducted by Richard Moon

Independent Study

Professor Moon will conduct legal and policy research and analysis and make recommendations on the most appropriate mechanisms for addressing hate messages (and more particularly those on the Internet), with specific emphasis on section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the role of the Commission.

In conducting his study, Professor Moon will take into consideration:

existing statutory and regulatory mechanisms – whether they are appropriate and/or whether they require change;
the mandates of human rights commissions and tribunals, as well as other government institutions presently engaged in addressing hate messages on the Internet;
whether other governmental or non-governmental organizations might have a role to play and if so, what that role might be;
Canadian human rights principles, including but not limited to, those contained in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
mechanisms used in other countries; and, Canada’s international human rights obligations.

From reading the above I get the distinct impression we should expect nothing more than a bureaucratic whitewash by a trusted fellow traveller. The key question for Professor Moon should be: How the hell do we get the Canadian Human Rights Commission out of the Thought Crime Business?

Or???

Unity and social solidarity only exist, in any real sense, when individuals are free to make judgments and direct their lives. If communication were suppressed the result would be a population which was inhibited in its ability to reflect upon important questions of value and a society which was closed and rigid rather than free and democratic’ (Moon, 1985: 356-357).

Or?? Oh Oh!

Contact Richard Moon: rmoon@uwindsor.ca

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Richard Moon Biography:

Biography

Richard Moon teaches both private and public law courses. His research focuses on freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and religion, and the structural aspects of constitutional rights protection. His current research project “The Secularization of Religious Freedom” is funded by a general grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has contributed three chapters to the leading constitutional law casebook in Canada, Canadian Constitutional Law, published by Emond Montgomery. In 1994 he was awarded the first University of Windsor Humanities Research Fellowship. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice from 1996 to 1999. From 2003 to 2005 he was the President of the Canadian Law and Society Association.

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Online preview of Richard Moon’s Book: The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression

More on this later…

Professor Richard Moon received a grant of $17,000 over the next three years to support his writing a book, tentatively entitled “The Secularization of Religious Freedom”, which examines the Canadian courts’ approach to freedom of religion and conscience. As the title suggests, the book will consider the shift from a religious to a secular justification for religious freedom.

Professor Moon notes: “ In itself, this shift to a secular justification of religious freedom might not seem so remarkable. However, the secularization of religious freedom has brought another, more significant, if less obvious, shift in the modern justification of religious freedom. While the formal defence of religious freedom in modern liberal democracies, such as Canada, emphasizes the value of individual autonomy or choice, and so can be seen as linked to earlier defences of religious tolerance that regarded individual conscience as a divinely-endowed capacity to realize spiritual truth, the modern protection of religious freedom seems to rest also, or instead, on the idea that religion is a matter of cultural identity. Religious belief is not simply a choice the individual makes. It is a part of who she or he is. It is a deeply rooted part of her or his identity or character and should be treated with equal respect.”

Uncertainty about the nature of religious commitment is manifested in a series of closely related issues or tensions in the Canadian religious freedom cases. In their application of section 2(a) of the Charter, the Canadian courts remain unclear (a) whether freedom of religion/conscience protects non-religious belief systems in the same way that it protects religious or spiritual beliefs and practices or whether there is something different about religious beliefs that requires their special protection or treatment? (b) whether freedom of religion/conscience prohibits state coercion in matters of spiritual and moral belief or whether it goes farther and requires the equal or even-handed treatment by the state of different (religious) belief systems? (c) whether religious beliefs or religiously-grounded values have a place in public debate and decision-making or whether they should be treated as private and excluded from the public sphere? and (d) whether the secular, understood as non-religious, is neutral and above religious controversy or whether it is a partisan, non- (or even anti-) religious perspective?

Richard Moon supports gay marriage.

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Richard Moon Publications & Cases

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