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Rehtaeh law at centre of hate speech debate

One short, buried clause in the Rehtaeh Parsons cyberbullying law has now sparked accusations that the Harper government will turn peaceful protests of Israel into a hate crime.

The government repeatedly cited this change to hate speech laws in response to questions about “zero tolerance” for the BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — movement against Israel.

Depending on your interpretation, the government response was either an admission of a future (almost certainly unconstitutional) crackdown or an obtuse and clumsy response by a government public relations staffer.

Pushing for such a conviction would cause a firestorm of controversy, especially since the chance of conviction is practically zero, said Michael Spratt, a partner at Abergel Goldstein & Partners.


Spratt calls the rewriting of hate speech laws troubling but said any attempt to enforce them against peaceful protest would be laughed out of court as unconstitutional.

“I think it’s safe to say that any court in this country would find that that form of speech would be charter-protected,” he said.

Spratt said he can’t see any prosecutor laying charges against anti-Israel protesters, but the change has one effect: it lets the government claim it is cracking down on anti-Semitism.

“It’s more about politics and electioneering than anything else.”

Full article at: The Chronicle Herald

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