BILL 59: LEGISLATORS LISTENED, RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES ADDED TO NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HEARINGS ON HATE SPEECH BILL
Montreal, August 4, 2015 — In response to last month’s public protest which denounced the “abnormal exclusion” of racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well as First Nations organizations from the upcoming public hearings on Bill 59, known as the hate-speech bill, several groups, including CRARR have been invited to testify.
Bill 59, An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals seeks to ban speech inciting hate and violence, create a public list of hatemongers, provide legal protections and tougher recourses against marriage involving minors, honor-based violence, and “any behaviour that could reasonably pose a threat for the physical or emotional safety of the students.”
The initial list of individuals and organizations invited by political parties represented on the Commission on Institutions of the National Assembly was markedly absent of racial, ethnic and religious minority as well as First Nations groups, who are often the principal target of hate crimes.
CRARR denounced this exclusion and mobilized groups as diverse as the Canadian Muslim Forum, the Black History Month Round-Table, the Association des Arabes et des Musulmans pour la Laïcité du Québec and the Concordia Student Union, to ask for the inclusion of minorities to the witness list (see http://crarr.org/?q=node/19709).
Representations to legislators also took place.
As a result, by July 31, 2015, CRARR and nine other organizations, including the Center for Israeli and Jewish Affairs, the Canadian Association of Muslim Lawyers and the Black History Month Round-Table, were added. First Nations organizations have yet to appear before the committee.
“We applaud the responsiveness of the Quebec Government and many members of the National Assembly to our demand for diversity among witnesses and inclusion in the legislative process,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.
“Bill 59 contains provisions that have both positive and negative implications for civil rights, and it is essential that minorities most affected by these provisions obtain the opportunity to be heard,” he added.