Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/canadian-human-rights-commission/ resolution-of-complaints.96 Last-Modified: 1997/04/23 CASE WORK: RESOLUTION OF COMPLAINTS Excerpt from the Annual Report Canadian Human Rights Commission 1996 HATE MESSAGES Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits the transmission by any telecommunication means of messages that are "likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt", based on a prohibited ground of discrimination. In January, the Federal Court of Appeal dealt with two cases concerning Tony McAleer and the Canadian Liberty Net. Both had their roots in a series of complaints alleging that the Liberty Net had been playing messages on its telephone hotline that violated the Act. After investigating, the Commission requested that a human rights tribunal inquire into these complaints. In the meantime, we asked the Federal Court for an interim injunction prohibiting the playing of those messages pending a tribunal decision. This was granted, but the Liberty Net continued to transmit the same messages by directing callers to a phone number it had established in the United States. At a show cause hearing, the Federal Court found the respondents in contempt of court and sentenced McAleer to jail. The respondents appealed the original injunction order and this conviction to the Court of Appeal. Their main argument was that the Federal Court had no authority under either the Federal Court Act or the Canadian Human Rights Act to issue an interim injunction before a human rights tribunal had made a finding. The Court of Appeal agreed and found that the Act created no right, in the Commission or anyone else, to obtain a prior restraint on any communication before its legality has been determined. The appellants also argued that they could not be held in contempt of an order which was subsequently found to be invalid. However, the Court held that an order of the court must be complied with even while it is being challenged. The Commission has been granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on the issue of the injunction. By overturning the Federal Court's authority to grant an interim injunction, the Court of Appeal has limited our ability to attack the on-going harm created by hate lines pending a ruling from the tribunal. The respondents have also obtained leave to appeal the decision upholding McAleer's conviction. Another complaint against Tony McAleer and the Liberty Net was brought by John Payzant. It was his contention that the group' hotline promoted hatred and contempt against gays and lesbians In February, the Federal Court upheld a tribunal decision that the Liberty Net's messages were likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt. Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Ac was held to be a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression. Court also rejected the appellants' argument that sexual orientation' covers all forms of aberrant sexual activity such incest, pedophilia and bestiality and its inclusion within the forbidden grounds of discrimination would therefore be tantamount to legally protecting these acts. In a recent decision by the Federal Court, the Commission's application for a contempt of court order against June French, Wolfgang Droege and the Heritage Front was dismissed. In March 1994, Wolfgang Droege and the Front agreed to a consent order t cease and desist from playing messages which were likely to expose persons to hatred or contempt or which were substantially similar in form or content to two messages which were the subject of complaints by the Native Canadian Centre. In April 1995, based on a message played on the Heritage Hotline in February that year, the Commission applied to the Federal Court for an order holding the respondents in contempt of court June French, the author and reader of the message, denied she ht knowledge of the consent order or that she was a member of the Heritage Front, but the Court found that she did have knowledge, was acting in concert with the Heritage Front, and was therefore subject to the consent order. The Court also found that the original transcript of the message used by the Commission in the show cause application was inaccurate. It nevertheless accepted the Commission's evidence that the error was an innocent one and that it had no intention of misleading the Court. In the end, the Court found that the February 1995 message was not similar in form or content to the messages covered in the consent order. N was it satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the new message was likely to promote hatred or contempt of the Jewish community. As noted in an earlier chapter, the Commission has asked that a human rights tribunal be appointed to look into two complaints against Ernst Zundel's Internet Web site. The Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations and Sabina Citron allege that the material found there could expose Jews to hatred and contempt on the basis of their race, religion and ethnic or gin. This is the first time that a tribunal will consider complaints involving messages on the Internet.
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