Canada’s controversial 20-year-old legal definition of hatred is set to be updated or even overturned on Wednesday, as the Supreme Court of Canada rules in the case of William Whatcott, a born-again anti-gay pamphleteer who ran afoul of Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code.
Pitting freedom of religion and speech against a legal regime that bans the repeated public expression of hate, the Whatcott case could see the legal foundation of several anti-hate laws crumble, including Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Crafted by former Chief Justice Brian Dickson in a 1991 Supreme Court decision about hate-hotline operator John Ross Taylor, the operating definition of hate in Canada is “unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification.”
But that decision, which upheld the constitutionality of Section 13 and set the benchmark for all hate speech tribunals, was a narrowly split 4-3 vote, in which current Chief Justice Beverley…
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