Canadian Human Rights Act
I am often reminded of Martin Luther King, who uniquely demonstrated that eloquence trumps bigotry, when researching Canada's earliest LGBT activists. They, like King, were at the forefront of a dramatic civil rights movement, making powerful and persuasive arguments for social justice in the face of sometimes brutal suppression.
December 10 is celebrated internationally as Human Rights Day. It is therefore an ideal time to reflect on how Canada's LGBT were once so feared and loathed that -- until surprisingly recently -- discriminating against them was both common and legal.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children reported that 50 per cent of First Nations children are living in poverty. I chose to focus instead on what the data didn't capture. I said that I am optimistic, because these changes are taking place. The desire for change is undeniable, and it's happening now.
I find it shocking that close to one in four inmates in the federal correctional system is an Aboriginal person. Yet Aboriginal people make up only four percent of our population. They are ten times more likely than anyone else to end up in jail. And that number is climbing. What does this say about our country? I appreciate the complexity of these issues, and the challenges of dealing with them. But denying the facts doesn't make them disappear. This is not the Canada I grew up in. The Canada I know and love. The Canada the world admires.
The utilitarian belief that individual rights to speak freely are somehow less important than the right of others to not be offended is ludicrous in so many ways. For the top court of the country to support it brings many questions of its legitimacy and effectiveness in protecting the fundamental freedoms that we supposedly enjoy.
You'd have thought Maclean's would have blazoned the death of Section 13 all over its front cover. With a massive headline along the lines of "SCREW YOU, CENSORS!!!" Or "WE WON!!!" Instead, the cover featured a generic picture of an innocuous youngish woman and an innocuous youngish man grinning maniacally and the silly headline: "The majority of us are singles. So why do we still live in a couples world?"
Free speech is the right to be obnoxious; on occasion to be offensive; often to be wrong and to say rude or unkind things, but not necessarily untruthful things. Unlike human rights tribunals, those who go to court must prove they've been damaged by free speech.