Mr. Paul SI. Pierre (Coast Chilcolin):
Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to almost everything in this bill except its intent. I have no quarrel with the intent. I am sure this applies equally to most, if not all, hon. members of this House. The intent is to reduce to some degree the sour pus of hatred in the body of the Canadian nation.
To do this, Bill C-3 proposes to create three new crimes. As we all know, Mr. Speaker, we cannot create new crimes without some infringement on the freedom of citizens. Therefore, it is a step which this Parliament should always be most reluctant to take. I do not think I have to labour this point. This debate is in its fourth day and members, both those who support the bill and those who oppose it, have all shown a consciousness of this value of freedom for Canadians.
Personally, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that Bill C-3 represents a major encroachment on the freedom of Canadian citizens. I am not convinced this is a deep encroachment on the rights of citizens. I could go further and say that it is a significant infringement on freedom. If I believed this bill would result in a significant lessening of hate literature or a significant lessening of racial strife in Canada, I would support it. I would do so reluctantly, but I would support it. 1 am not so convinced.
It is my conviction that at best this law will not accomplish anything. It will merely be a piece of counter-propaganda put on the statute books. I am afraid that the results may be worse. I am afraid this legislation, if passed, will be welcomed by those sordid people who deal in hate literature. I think it will be a crown of thorns for them to pull down on their little pointed heads. I fear that it will cause other hate literature, more devious and vicious, to be published. I think that the residents of society's lunatic fringe are going to get an importance they do not deserve and in the process of circumventing this law, which they can surely do, they will produce a stronger poison than they are now producing.
I feel this is an attempt to legislate mankind into decency. I do not believe that is workable for reasons which I hope to make clear later in these remarks. I do not believe it is a proper function of the criminal law.
Before proceeding to do so, Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak briefly on my own limitations in participating in this debate. There is one
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limitation in particular which is serious. All my life I have been a member of the majority. My skin has always been the colour of most of those around me. My features, such as they are, have the shape of the average man. My hair, nose and the slant of my eyes have always been similar to those of the majority. I have never experienced first-hand the prejudice which falls upon a person who is in the minority. However, I have made it my business to observe it as closely as I can.
I have many friends who are members of a recognized minority. I refer to the Indian people. They have experienced hatred and contempt. Although I do not have personal experience with the problems of the minority, I am conscious of them and of the fact that there are few greater tragedies for a man than to be pre-judged. This above all is the element of hatred which is so damaging. Although it is damaging to the people who use it, it is even more damaging to its victims.
This is the position of a man who, because of the colour of his skin or some other reason, is not judged as an individual, but prejudged as being a member of a group. He is placed in the position of having to prove that he is equal to the majority of citizens before being accepted. Most hon. members in this House have not experienced this first-hand. We should remember this. I wish I could believe that Bill C-3 provides a cure for that sickness, but I cannot.
I had intended to speak at some length on what I consider to be the weaknesses of this proposed law in terms of enforcement. However, having listened for more than three days to a variety of speeches on this subject, I think it has been quite thoroughly covered. There is no point in my repeating this for those members present. However, I wish to deal with one or two defences provided. In Section 267B.C2), proving truth is a complete defence. This, Mr. Speaker, is a stronger defence than we admit for men charged with libel against individuals under the criminal law.
All newsmen know that a man can be damaged desperately and absolutely unjustly by the diabolical use of truth. With a birth certificate and medical certificate you may be able to prove that the man is a lousy bastard, but under the criminal law you will be punished for doing so unless in some strange way you can prove it is in the public interest to use truth in that way. In this bill we are permitting truth as a defence to a charge of defamation of large groups of people. It will be a defence for those who peddle hatred.
IMr. St. Pierre.]
[DOT] (4:30 p.m.)
What about another subclause, subclause (c) of the same clause? I shall not read it in full. The words used are "if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest..." and so on. I have studied this. I believe it was the hon. member for York-Simcoe (Mr. Roberts) who drew attention to the point earlier. I suspect Heinrich Himmler could have defended himself under this provision for his verbal attacks on the Jewish community in Germany. However, I shall not thresh this old straw again.
I should like to turn briefly to the genocide provisions. Some hon. members may say: How can anyone in any circumstances tolerate a society in which people can defend genocide? It is my own feeling that the handful of idiots in Canada who would advocate such a course might just as well reveal their idiocy to anyone who wants to examine it. Their influence is so small as to be immeasurable. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that some promoters of genocide do attain a degree of public acceptance and do begin to make some headway in this country. I consider this unlikely, almost to the point of impossibility, but we are assuming this for a moment. It is my contention that there is provision in the law as it stands to deal with such a situation. I refer to a case which has been cited several times in the course of this debate, the case of Boucher v. The King, 1949-50. I am reading an excerpt from page 39 of the report of the Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada. The last paragraph reads:
On this interpretation of the Boucher case, classes of Her Majesty's subjects may be adequately protected as groups, under the existing Canadian law of seditious libel, from violence or threats of violence against them, whether or not the violence is directed primarily against them. But on any interpretation the protection to groups extends only to situations where the prosecution can prove that violence was intended.
Of course, Mr. Speaker, no one can advocate genocide without advocating violence. Genocide is violence.
Elsewhere in the Criminal Code, for instance, among the seditious libel sections, provision is made for criminal actions to be brought against people who endanger the structure of our society by the incitement of hatred and violence. Bill C-3 would go further. It would seek-in my view, ineffectively-to silence the lunatic fringe without necessarily requiring evidence that their words were endangering the peace and good
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order of the state. This, I maintain, is an attempt to use the criminal law to improve men's morals. I am not convinced that the criminal law can be effectively used in this way. I am not convinced that the law can be used to educate people. I am aware that the Minister of Justice (Mr. Turner) does not agree. On Monday he told the House he feels the criminal law has a role as an educative force in Canada. I respect the Minister of Justice. I respect his integrity and his intelligence; I also respect his opinions. But in this case he and I have an honest difference of opinion.
Some of us were amused to hear the hon. member for Calgary North (Mr. Woolliams) go into a peroration about dissension in the ranks of the government party which was going to drive the government out of office. What a high, faint cry that was from a defeated party anxiously grasping at any straw by which it might conceivably gain power. It is doubtful whether they would have a clear notion of what to do with power if they did get it. In the unlikely event that this bill is defeated, I would expect the government to promptly set down a motion of confidence; the hon. member for Calgary-North would then see very clearly where the members of the government party place their confidence and where they do not. But I disagree with the government on this piece of legislation.
In closing I should like to quote briefly from two articles on the subject. The first is part of a brief prepared by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. It is a very long brief but my quotation will not be extensive:
Reasonable though such suggestions may sound it should be remembered that while a politically free self-governing people can rightly authorize its governmental tribunals and agents to do many things in its name, including of course the prohibition of many acts deemed harmful, it can never rightly authorize its governmental tribunals and agents to serve as censor or screen for the citizens' minds. To authorize that, even in one area, thereby diminishes the people's self-governing capacity and renders them less fit for their civic role. Any such authorization, moreover, provides the principle and the precedent by which the procedure may be extended in order to suppress other expressions of hatred, not only "hate", ideas.
To the degree politically free people abdicate their sovereign, collective right to determine for themselves which ideas they shall hear or read,' which proposed policies they shall accept or reject, which doctrines they shall advocate or deny -to that degree they have hedged their democratic commitment, giving evidence thereby of a failure of nerve.
I shall read, now, from another paper on this subject. This was contained in Chitty's Law Journal, Volume 18 No. 1. of January 1970 and the author is H. W. Arthurs, Assistant Dean of Law at Osgoode Hall. Incidentally, in his article Mr. Arthurs describes himself as a member of an identifiable minority group. He was speaking of the earlier bill; the bill has been amended since, but I doubt whether Mr. Arthurs opinions on it have changed. As appears on page 4, he says:
"If this bill is enacted, the general community reaction will be "now there is a law, and the business of combating hate propaganda is the job of policemen and magistrates". Not so. The job of combating hate propaganda is, and always must be, the job of every citizen. To enact a law is to invite the citizen to slough off his responsibilities, to hand over to his paid servants the moral burden which is his alone. I would prefer to see individual citizens -from the highest to the lowest-constantly confront and shout down the hatemonger and the bigot, rather than permit them to bask in the illusion that the forces of law and order, by prosecuting a few sad individuals, have obliterated prejudice.
In closing, I intend to say something which may surprise some hon. members. I should be delighted to find that my opinions with regard to this bill are wrong. I expect that the bill will pass. If it does, I devoutly hope that it will serve a worthy purpose by reducing the flow of hate literature in Canada and reducing the level of hatred in Canada, slight though it may be. But such is not my expectation and I shall therefore vote against this measure. I thank all hon. members for their attention.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CRIMINAL CODE