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Last-Modified: 1997/03/30

5.3 The Canadian Human Rights Act

Section 13 ofthe Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) makes it a
violation of the CHRA to communicate telephonically or to
cause to be communicated any matter that is Likely to expose
a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the
fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on
the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination (see
Appendix I). The prohibited grounds of discrimination are
religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, age, sex
and marital status, disability, and sexual orientation.

Essentially, section 13 has been used to combat what are
popularly termed telephone hate lines which involve a
prerecorded hate message, prepared by a group or individual,
to which any member of the public could dial by telephone.
In many instances, these telephone hate lines have been used
by hate groups as a way to expand membership.

Among the sanctions available in response to a violation of
the section is a cease and desist order in relation to
messages which cause hatred or contempt against identifiable
groups. In the event that such orders are not complied with,
criminal contempt of court proceedings are available and
have been used..

Other differences between section 13 and the Criminal Code
provisions are that the CHRA provision applies to messages
of hatred or contempt transmitted only by telephone lines.
Given that section 13 is not a criminal provision, the
standard of proof required is less than that necessary for a
conviction pursuant to section 319 (2) of the Criminal Code.
Under section 319 (sub 2) the violation must be proved at
the criminal standard, beyond a reasonable doubt. In
contrast the less stringent civil standard of proof on the
balance of probabilities is the bench mark to show a
violation of section 13. In addition, section 13 deals not
just with promotion of hatred but with "hatred or contempt".
It is clear that the promotion of contempt under section 13
requires the promotion of less severe dislike than that
necessary for "promotion of hatred", as contemplated in the
Keegstra decision.

Section 13 of the CHRA has played an important role in
limiting the dissemination of hatred and contempt against
identifiable groups in the Metropolitan Toronto area.
Between 1991 and 1994 there were at least 7 taped telephone
"hotlines" spreading hate messages, with many of those
operating at the same time. Complaints pursuant to section
13 were filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in
relation to hate lines in British Columbia, Manitoba and
Ontario.

The most notable was a complaint to be considered by the
Commission against the Heritage Front, operators of the most
notorious hate line in this city. In 1994, before a Human
Rights Tribunal, Wolfgang Droege and the Heritage Front
accepted a consent order admitting that its messages were
likely to expose persons to hatred or contempt and agreed to
cease and desist from transrnitting the messages. Soon after
the consent order, the Federal Court Trial Division found
Wolfgang Droege (leader of the Heritage Front), Gary
Schipper (i.e. the voice of the hate line), Kenneth Barker
and the Heritage Front guilty of contempt of court for
continuing to play hate messages on a newly established
Equal Rights For Whites hate line. All of the individuals
involved served time in prison and the Heritage Front was
fined $5,OOO.

Within a short time following the contempt of court
conviction only one hate line remained in the Toronto area.
It is clear that the use of the legislation available to
combat hate lines was effective, not only moderating the
message of the hate line which continued, but also serving
as a deterrent against the continued operation of other such
lines in Toronto. Indeed, Kevin Lew, who ran a Ku KIux Klan
hate line in 1992, admitted that the threat of criminal
contempt of court proceedings was enough to make him hang up
his hate line.

Beside hate telephone lines, section 13 has the potential of
being employed against hate messages on the Internet. The
reason for section 1 3's applicability is that Internet
messages are transmitted via telephone lines. While no case
has yet been completed, applying section 13 to the Internet,
one highly publicized case is in its early stages. The
Toronto Mayor's Committee on Race Relations and a Toronto
Holocaust survivor, Sabina Citron, have commenced companion
complaints against Ernst Zundel in relation to material
posted on his website. The case is currently at a
preliminary stage.

Certainly, there are potential problems in the application
of section 13 to the Internet. In some cases, demonstrating
Canadian Human Rights Commission jurisdiction may be
difficult given that many hate messages, via the Internet,
that find their way into Canada originate from beyond this
country's borders. In addition, there are many difficult
evidentiary issues including the responsibility of
individuals who may not physically post hate messages on the
lnternet but have their work posted by another person or
group. Despite the hurdles, section 13 certainly holds
promise.


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