Imagine that your local MP rises in the House of Commons to deliver a member's statement. The sort of acknowledgement normally reserved for important cultural days, outstanding individuals or remarkable community groups.
To your surprise, the MP reads statements from a constituent that are nothing but a tirade of violent, racist misogyny, while directing a vile mix of intimidation and libel at individual people. I hope you would be rightly shocked and appalled that such awful hate propaganda was being delivered by a government representative.
Recently in Toronto, a board of review began hearings to determine if hate propaganda like what I just described should be delivered to unwitting people's homes by way of a Crown corporation.
Last year the minister responsible for Canada Post, Judy Foote, issued what is known as a prohibitory order under the Canada Post Act to stop delivery of a disgusting hate rag known as Your Ward News by Canada Post carriers.
A lone copy of Your Ward News has manifested on Ryerson bulletin board, unsurprisingly stapled in a fashion that makes it difficult to read. pic.twitter.com/anr8Kzph4B— Mathew Iantorno (@mattiantorno) March 20, 2017
It is still being distributed either by private companies or volunteers instead of by Canada Post.
Your Ward News is dangerous hate propaganda that, up until last year, was being delivered to the homes of people in Toronto and communities as far away as Niagara Falls. It used racist slurs on every page; included images meant to demean or intimidate women; its publisher has called for the legalization of rape; and, in a particularly disturbing piece of Photoshop work, Your Ward News has depicted opponents in Nazi gas chambers. Think of it as the National Enquirer for skinheads, and you have the right idea.
We live in a free society, people are able to hold whatever disgusting, indefensible opinions they see fit. Defenders of Your Ward News say this is a free-speech issue, and their rights are being denied. They are completely wrong on both counts.
First, it isn't a free-speech issue. Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be. Targeting any group with this sort of malicious hatred is dangerous because it can and does lead to violence in the real world. The reason you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre is that people can and will get hurt. Willfully cultivating hatred against specific groups has the same effect, and is not protected, either.
Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be.
Second, no one's free speech is being denied by Minister Foote's decision. The publishers are free to post their malignant beliefs online, or print up copies of their filth and hand them out themselves -- as they continue to do. The minister's decision simply means that Canada Post will not be doing the distribution for them.
Canada Post is a Crown corporation and belongs to all the people of this country. In any healthy democracy there are going to be debates over what government should and should not support. This is not one of those instances.
Liberal MP Judy Foote. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
There can be no debate over forcing government to provide logistical support for hate propaganda to be dropped into the homes of unsuspecting families. It is wrong, dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue.
As a country we would not accept an MP delivering remarks that target groups and individuals with unmitigated hate. We should not accept it coming from another government representative -- a Crown corporation -- either.
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