Both Scotland’s hate speech law and Canada’s Bill C-63 are mass censorship nightmares

Brian Giesbrecht: Canada's Bill C-63 vs Scotland's new hate speech lawSome argue that Scotland’s new hate speech law is more draconian than Canada’s yet-to-be-enacted equivalent, Bill C-63. Others say this is not so – that portions of Bill C-63 are even greater threats to free speech than Scotland’s extreme new law.

Regardless of who wins in this radical experiment in mass censorship, one thing we can predict with certainty: Both laws will be a goldmine for the legal profession and a nightmare for anyone who has ever dared to write, say or broadcast anything controversial.

How? Well, in the first week that Scotland’s new hate legislation had been in force, there has been an avalanche of new claims launched – 8,000 and counting. Every one of those claims will have to be defended by a person who believed they were exercising their right to free speech.

Now, 8,000 of those people will be caught up in expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining litigation. Their cases will mostly be heard by officials and judges appointed because they shared the same views as the government that appointed them – the same government that felt the need to prosecute these 8,000 people.

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That 8,000 surpassed the total number of hate crime allegations in Scotland for all of 2023. A projection is that there will be an estimated 416,000 cases in 2024 if this rate keeps up. The complaints have completely overwhelmed Scotland’s police.

The Scottish Police Federation’s David Threadgold had this to say about  the new law: “… (it is) being “weaponized” by the public in order to settle personal grudges against fellow citizens or to wage political feuds ….”

We’ve witnessed this Scottish law in practice with J.K. Rowling, renowned for her Harry Potter books and, more recently, for asserting the fundamental truth that men are men and women are women. She boldly reposted that claim, openly challenging the Scottish police to take action against her.

The police announced that she wouldn’t be charged – at this time.

The other person who has been the subject of many of those 8,000 complaints is Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf himself – the very man responsible for this monstrosity of a law. Yousaf is famous for complaining that Scotland has too many white people.

That comment resulted in a world-famous spat with Elon Musk. The online slugfest basically took the form of each man accusing the other of being a racist.

Yousaf and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are birds of a feather. Both are convinced that only “acceptable views” – namely, the views they agree with – will be allowed, while “unacceptable views” – namely, those they don’t like – must be disappeared by the machinery of the state.

At this point, I should clarify that Scotland’s new law, unlike our C-63, mandates police to ascertain whether the individual being complained about has “stirred up hatred.” In Canada, the Human Rights Tribunal will hear “hate” complaints.

If C-63 becomes law, will Canada experience a similar avalanche of complaints as Scotland has?

Actually, there will probably be a lot more here because our population is many times the size of Scotland’s.

C-63 also permits individuals to file complaints anonymously if deemed appropriate by the tribunal. Furthermore, it pledges up to $50,000 per complaint, a significant incentive to filing complaints, to be paid by the subject of the complaint. And you might be required to fork over an additional $20,000 to the tribunal for their troubles.

Many knowledgeable Canadians have outlined in detail the hundreds of objections they can see with this Bill. Prominent Canadian figures, including former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and author Margaret Atwood, have warned Canadians about the significant flaws within this legislation.

But what no one has done – except for Trudeau apparatchiks – is to give any good reasons why Canada needs this legislation.

If Scotland’s projected number of complaints for 2024 is 416,000 and they have a population of less than six million, the projection for Canada would be into the millions of complaints.

Bill C-63 is an appallingly disrespectful way to treat Canadians. We already have hate laws. We already have laws to protect children. C-63 is as useless as the tired apparatchiks pushing it.

We need to pay attention to what is happening in Scotland. It will be our fate if this perfectly awful Bill C-63 is not defeated.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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