Hate Speech Provisions Dropped from Bill 59

By | May 26, 2016 at 11:00 am | No comments | News | Tags: , , , ,

PEN Canada welcomes the withdrawal of hate speech provisions from Quebec’s Bill 59

Quebec minister of justice bows to pressure to amend bill

The Quebec minister of justice, Stéphanie Vallée, has announced that the government will present an amendment to withdraw hate speech provisions from Bill 59.

…lawyers, commentators and the majority of groups who testified in committee sessions were opposed on the grounds that the hate speech provisions were potentially repressive due to overbroad language.

At an impromptu press conference at the National Assembly yesterday, May 25, Vallée acknowledged there is clear consensus that Quebec is not ‘ready for’ legislation restricting hate speech. She says they are dropping the portions on hate speech in order to move forward with the portion of the bill that deals with forced marriages.

Since its introduction in June 2015, Bill 59, entitled “an Act…to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals,” has met with fierce opposition. Last week, Parti Québécois member Agnès Maltais demanded the withdrawal of Bill 59 because it would restrict freedom of expression. She said that lawyers, commentators and the majority of groups who testified in committee sessions were opposed on the grounds that the hate speech provisions were potentially repressive due to overbroad language.

PEN Canada is on record opposing Bill 59 on the same grounds (see PEN Canada’s article: Free Expression Matters: Free Speech in Canada & Bill 59).  We are pleased to see this view has prevailed.

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