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Report No. 267


4.34 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.85 Pursuant to this, section 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada, RSC 1985 sanctions public incitement of hatred.

4.35 Some important decisions on hate speech in Canada are R. v. Keegstra;86 R. v. Andrews;87 and Canada Human Rights Commission v. Taylor.88 In Keegstra, the Canadian Supreme Court held that: Parliament has recognized the substantial harm that can flow from hate propaganda and, in trying to prevent the pain suffered by target group members and to reduce racial, ethnic and religious tension and perhaps even violence in Canada, has decided to suppress the wilful promotion of hatred against identifiable groups.

Parliament's objective is supported not only by the work of numerous study groups, but also by our collective historical knowledge of the potentially catastrophic effects of the promotion of hatred. Additionally, the international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda and Canada's commitment to the values of equality and multiculturalism in ss. 15 and 27 of the Charter strongly buttress the importance of this objective. 89

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