Ottawa proposes new rules to define and punish online hate speech.

Kirti Pathak
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The Trudeau government is proposing law changes to combat online hate speech and make it simpler for victims to file complaints. The proposed Bill C-36 amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to define the definition of online hate speech and identify it as a form of discrimination, according to the government.

"These reforms are intended to address the most egregious and blatant kinds of hate speech that can lead to discrimination and violence," said David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, at a news conference on Wednesday evening.

"They do not target basic statements of hatred or disgust that abound in ordinary discourse, particularly on the internet." The modified statute would define hate speech as "material that expresses hatred or vilification of a person or group," including content posted on the internet.

According to reports, the revised definition excludes foul language in general. It also prohibits content that is hurtful, humiliating or shows hatred or disgust. Private correspondence is exempt as well. Lametti cited a tragic vehicle assault in London, Ontario, as an illustration of the violence that may emerge from internet hatred.

The suggested amendments would be incorporated into a resurrected Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Stephen Harper administration removed an earlier version of that clause, which dealt with internet hate speech, in 2013. The law was criticized by the Conservatives as "posturing" ahead of a prospective election. According to the party, if the law is passed, it will limit Canadians' rights.

canadian-human-rights-act stephen-harper lametti david-lametti minister-of-justice-and-attorney-general-of-canada