Thank you for your correspondence concerning the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. I regret the delay in responding.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which, in a free and democratic society, may be limited only when such an action is justified.
The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. I am pleased to inform you that Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, received Royal Assent on June 18, 2008. Bill C-21 repeals section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), which shielded some actions of the federal government or First Nations entities from the application of the CHRA. The repeal of section 67 extends the rights of First Nations people, primarily those living on reserve, to file complaints with the CHRC. [Now, if you could just do the same for Section 13]
Canada’s record on human rights is second to none; it is a record of which all Canadians can be proud. [Perhaps, if you don't count Section 13 and the reprehensible behaviour of the HRCs].
As you may be aware, the CHRC, which administers the Canadian Human Rights Act, operates at arm’s length from the Government of Canada and reports to Parliament independently. [Yes, but it is within government's power to repeal Section 13 of the CHRA and thus prevent the CHRC from censoring speech.]
With respect to Motion 446, brought by the Honourable Dr. Keith Martin, I can assure you that I will follow this motion closely when it comes before the House of Commons for debate. [OK, but it would be much better if you got behind Martin's motion].
I would like to inform you that my caucus colleague Mr. Rick Dykstra has tabled a motion that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights examine and make recommendations with respect to the CHRC, including its mandate, operations, and interpretation and application of provisions relating to section 13 of the CHRA, which addresses hate messages. I look forward to that review. [Good for Dystra but I have the feeling you aren't four square behind his motion.]
In the first few paragraphs he’s sticking to the same pro-forma response he’s given from square one - ie. motherhood, hedging on free-speech and bringing Indians under the CHRA.
You also express your thoughts concerning Bill C-51. As you are aware, this
matter falls within the purview of my colleague the Honourable Tony Clement,
Minister of Health, to whom I note you have also addressed your correspondence. I appreciate your bringing this to my attention, but will leave the matter to be considered by Minister Clement.
Please be assured that your concerns have been given proper consideration. Thank you again for writing.
The Honourable Rob Nicholson
c.c.: The Honourable Tony Clement,
P.C., M.P. Minister of Health
The only "news" is that he’s acknowledged Keith Martin’s motion which he’ll "follow closely" and he "looks forward" to a Justice Committee review of CHRC and CHRA Section 13 issues as called for by Rick Dystra’s motion. It’s predictably lame and timid but I suppose better than simply defending HRCs as he’s done in the recent past.
On the same front Ezra Levant reports that two more cabinet ministers, John Baird and Helen Guergis, have called for a review of the CHRC.