Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pastor Stephen Boissoin exoneratd

In a great victory for free speech, Pastor Stephen Boissoin has been exonerated after being dragged through the mud in a very long, and no doubt costly, legal battle to defend himself. Pastor Boissoin has posted on Recliner Commentaries, clarifying his case.

Congratulations, Pastor Boissoin!

1 comment:

Steve said...

The decision of Justice Earl Wilson of the Court of Queen's Bench in Boissoin v Lund will have a significant long term positive impact on religious freedom in Canada:

1. The decision established a very high threshold for the conclusion that a publication is in violation of the "hate" provisions of Alberta's human rights laws. The prosecutor, Dr. Lund, told the Canadian Press that "If the language contained in the letter does not meet the threshold of hateful, I am not certain what possibly would." If Dr. Lund is right, then there will be no further prosecutions. The decision of the Alberta Human Rights Commission to withdraw from the case suggests that the Commission learned from Dr. Lund's mistake. There is no place for thought control in a free and democratic society.

2. Dr. Lund told the Calgary Herald that the decision of Justice Wilson "takes away the tools at our disposal". He is correct. The tools of censorship should not be available to prohibit freedom of expression in Canada. There is no circumstance in a free society where limitations on political or religious debate can be justified.

3. While the decision did not strike down Alberta's "hate speech" laws, it significantly limited the application of such laws. Justice Wilson properly pointed out that a province may not duplicate the federal Criminal Code rules outlawing hate crime. Furthermore, Justice Wilson interpreted the provision in question as only prohibiting hateful words that lead to discriminatory activity under the provincial human rights legislation. Justice Wilson found that Stephen Boissoin's letter to the editor was not hateful and did not cause discriminatory behaviour. It is difficult to conceive of a political or religious debate that would meet the two part test established in the legislation. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that in the future no religious or political debate will be found to be in breach of the current text of Alberta's human rights laws.

Gerald Chipeur, QC