Bill C-250 was passed in the House of Commons 145 to 110 on Sept. 17. This so-called “hate crimes” bill is dangerous, debilitating, and disingenuous; it offends the basic principles of liberal democracy. And yet, our fight against this bill is not over, and our stuggle not in vain.
It must first be noted that not only is the bill badly premised on contentious tenets and ambiguous terms, it is just bad law. The bill, sponsored by MP Svend Robinson, is both superfluous and redundant; there is no need to include the term “sexual orientation” in existing hate crime legislation. Provisions that defend against incitements to violence already exist. As such, the bill gives new powers for dubious purposes. If Bill C-250 passes in the Senate, it will be possible to prosecute a statement of moral principle. While free speech should not protect virulent, dangerous demagogues, the state should not curtail the articulation of moral positions.
In this respect, Bill C-250 is unique: it marks the first time that espousing one side in a cultural debate has become a crime. Apparently, free speech has become too dangerous a freedom to be enjoyed by those who question the moral standards of society. Now, if certain groups are made to feel unwelcome, fine or imprisonment could await the offender.
Given that the language of Bill C-250 is unclear and intentionally vague, it allows Canadian judges, who are now the de facto authors of law, to interpret Bill C-250 in ways that conform to their personal ideological biases. This new bill will give them unprecedented power to restrict both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.
Traditional Judeo-Christian values are imperiled as never before; it is entirely possible that the Bible, or any other document that questions the morality of certain sexual acts, may be denounced as “hate literature.”
Prime Minister Jean Chretien, in a speech to the Liberal caucus, noted that his party has certain responsibilities: “None of these are more essential than protecting the Constitution and the fundamental rights it guarantees to all Canadians.” And yet, the fundamental freedoms of those who would criticize the drastic social changes the state seeks to impose are held cheap. Politically correct rhetoric is now being used to squelch honest and thoughtful debate, and “sexual orientation” is now being enshrined beside life and liberty.
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