Canada’s human rights hate speech laws are a constitutionally valid limit on freedom of expression, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in a landmark judgment.
The judgment in the case of William Whatcott of Saskatchewan reaffirms the Canadian approach to hate speech, that it can be limited by law to address the problem of hate speech, unlike the American approach, in which speech cannot be limited except in the most extreme circumstances.
In upholding a definition of hatred first crafted by the Supreme Court in 1991, the current justices ruled that the hate speech section of Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code addresses a pressing and substantial issue, and is proportional to its objective of “tackling causes of discriminatory activity to reduce the harmful effects and social costs of discrimination.”
The court struck out some strange language in the law, which bans speech that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the…
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