Blacklock’s Reporter – Feds Review Odd Speech Gag
Feds Review Odd Speech Gag
October 22, 2018 – Parks Canada says it may rewrite rules to amend speech gag regulations under the Canada National Parks Act. MPs and senators on Parliament’s scrutiny of regulations committee called it a breach of the Charter of Rights.
“We obviously take the Charter very seriously,” said Michael Nadler, acting CEO for the agency: “Parliament established an approach under the Act which recognizes that superintendents need a certain degree of discretion.”
The regulations date from 1980, prior to the 1982 adoption of the Charter, and were reintroduced without public consultation in 2010. Under Miscellaneous Regulations park visitors must ask for a permit to display any written sign. The rule states, “The superintendent shall, on application, issue a permit authorizing the permit holder to display or distribute any promotional or informational material in a park if it is not of a violent or otherwise offensive nature.”
The terms “violent” and “offensive” are not defined. “The Act recognizes that some degree of discretion can be necessary to protect the safety and health of the public,” said CEO Nadler; “They are cautious in their exercise every day in the management of these places.”
Parks Canada would not say why the rule was adopted, or how many times it’s been invoked. The timing of the regulation followed protests in 1979 and 1980 in New Brunswick’s Kouchibouguac National Park by former landowners who complained their property was unfairly expropriated to create the nature preserve in 1969.
Evelyne Borkowski-Parent, counsel to the committee, earlier explained Parliament has already written numerous laws to deal with offensive speech. “There are statutory provisions in the Criminal Code and elsewhere that deal with libel, hate speech and propaganda that would prevent distribution of illegal materials in any event,” said Borkowski-Parent. “What this subsection is left to cover are materials that are legal but, for one reason or another, considered undesirable by administrative officials.”
The agency in a January 26 letter to the committee said it would not repeal the censorship rule. Conservative MP Bob Benzen (Calgary Heritage) said park superintendents should not have arbitrary powers to censor signs or literature.
“It could be just that he or she is having a bad day and they give a different answer,” said Benzen. “What can we do in here to ensure Canadians are treated fairly and not just discretionarily?”
“You’re basically saying, ‘You know what? We’re just going to leave it the way it is and we’re going to keep all the discretion,’” said Benzen. “That’s what I’ve heard you say.”
“We want to know that you’ve considered all of our recommendations, you’re able to act on these, you’re not able to act on those, and why,” said Senator Joseph Day (Liberal-N.B.), joint chair of the committee. “Understood,” replied CEO Nadler.
Original Link: https://www.blacklocks.ca/feds-review-odd-speech-gag/