The federal government is preparing to introduce a sweeping round of legislation that would combat the "explosion" of hate sites on the Internet and outlaw human trafficking, "the new global slave trade," Justice Minister Irwin Cotler says.
He also wants to encourage more police departments across Canada to set up their own special hate crimes squads and for those squads to work together more closely and better coordinate their efforts.
"We have to send out the message unequivocally, as a government and as part of our shared citizenship and shared values, that our Canada is one in which there will be no sanctuary for hate and no refuge for bigotry," he said in an interview. "We will use all the panoply of remedies to bring that about. Legal remedies, intercultural dialogue, promotion of multiculturalism, anti-discrimination law and policy. A national action plan against racism."
This year has seen an increase in "both the incidence and intensity of hate crimes," said Cotler, including the firebombing of the Talmud Torah Jewish day school in Montreal and the torching of a mosque near Toronto.
While Cotler says Canada has "the most comprehensive legal regime to combat hate of any comparable democracy," he says Canada can do more -- particularly when it comes to the Internet.
"Where in 1995 you had one hate site, today in 2004, 10 years later, we have 5,000 hate sites. You have had an explosion of hate on the Internet."
Traditionally, Canadian legislators have been reluctant to tackle Internet content because the web's international nature makes it difficult for any country to enforce its laws.
Canada must work in conjunction with other nations, the minister says.
In addition to adopting domestic legislation to fight "cyber hate," Cotler said Canada has to ratify the Council of Europe convention on cyber crime as well as its optional protocol with respect to combatting hate. Countries who adhere to the convention enter a framework agreement concerning information sharing and law enforcement creating what Cotler describes as "a culture of human rights to combat a culture of hate."
CanWest News Service
© The Calgary Herald 2004