No mention of free speech in federal human rights commission’s 2024-2025 plan

by Cosmin Dzsurdzsa at

The federal body will be tasked with dishing out punishments for online “hate speech” under the Liberal government’s proposed Bill C-63 does not outline preserving freedom of expression as a priority in its latest departmental plan

A scrutiny of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s plan signed off by Justice Minister Arif Virani revealed a glaring absence of terms such as “freedom,” “freedom of expression,” or “free speech.” 

Instead, the focus is predominantly on advancing divisive initiatives related to decolonization and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The commission expanded the scope to ensure that “diversity, equity, accessibility and anti-racism” would be “embedded across all our work through the commitment of our entire senior management team.” 

Additionally, the department plans to give more say to its Decolonization and Anti-Racism Consultation Committee.

The absence of explicit commitments to safeguarding freedom of expression is notable,  in light of the government’s simultaneous introduction of the Online Harms Act. 

This legislative proposal, unveiled by Virani on Monday, aims to address online hate speech by imposing significant penalties, including fines and potential imprisonment for hate crimes.