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B.C. Civil Liberties Association will argue that Human Rights Code restrictions on “discriminatory publication” are unacceptable government censorship

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is intervening at the Human Rights Tribunal hearing regarding the complaint under section 2 of the Human Rights Code against Doug Collins and the North Shore News. The complaint is that Collins wrote a column that is likely to expose a group to hatred or contempt because of race, religion or ancestry.

In his opening statement today, Murray Mollard, counsel for the BCCLA, outlined his arguments that section 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to Mollard: “The law is an unacceptable attempt at government censorship because it infringes British Columbians’ basic right to express and hear any idea which they believe to be important. It fundamentally undermines the central feature of a democratic society: that citizens are self-governing. Citizens must be continually debating and choosing which ideas will form the basis for the rules we live by and for our public policies and institutions. The value of equality will not be realized unless citizens continually commit to it and practice it. Censorship prevents us from doing our jobs as democratic citizens.”

Mollard said that citizens bear an important duty to respond to false, offensive and bigoted ideas. The BCCLA is firmly commited to the values of equality and anti-discrimination.

The BCCLA will focus all its arguments on the constitutionality of the Human Rights Code. It will not argue whether the column in question violates the Code.

The first three days of the hearing are scheduled to be heard at the Century Plaza Hotel, 1015 Burrard Street, Vancouver. The hearing is expected to last for a month.