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Canadian Government Presents Anti-hate Legislation to Parliament

The Canadian Government introduced today its anti-hate legislation into Parliament via the Senate. Three new sections would be added to the federal criminal code.

Advocacy of genocide would bring a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. Inciting hatred or contempt against an identifiable group in a public place where this is likely to lead to a breach of the peace would incur a maximum penalty of two years. Promoting hatred and similar responses by communicating written or spoken statements, signs or gestures would also be liable to two-year maximum prison terms.

Courts would be empowered to seize such literature. No conviction would ensue if statements were held to be true or believed to be true and relevant to public interest. Identifiable groups would be defined as based on race, color, or ethnic origin. Religion would be excluded.

There already have been two government committee reports. The Parliamentary external affairs committee met and held hearings. A specially appointed study committee, under the chairmanship of Prof. Maxwell Cohen, Dean of the McGill Law School, recommended such legislation last April.

Three readings are required in the Senate and in the House of Commons. Introduction of the legislation constituted the first reading. The second reading is the significant one, the third being perfunctory. Introduction in the House is expected shortly. Observers here believe that the legislation will pass, though there will probably be debate on some phases, including the exclusion of religion as a basis for group identification. Opposition parties are on record as favoring such legislation.

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