A Langley City anti-hate activist has mounted a one-person letter-writing campaign to convince senators and members of parliament to toughen penalties for online hate speech.
So far, Cran Campbell said, he’s received just one expression of interest, from Liberal Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Ken Hardie, who phoned Campbell last week, after his letter landed.
“He wanted to know how to find the [racist] postings,” Campbell told the Language Advance Times.
Campbell said he wasn’t expecting many direct responses, but hopes his letters will help nudge the federal government toward toughing anti-hate measures, at a time when the problem is getting more attention than ever.
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A few years ago, Campbell stepped away from campaigning against online bigotry following a punishing battle to repair his reputation.
He was victim of an internet trolling scheme that retaliated against his lobbying efforts by trying to link him to unsupported accusations of criminal behaviour.
After recently seeing the problem was, if anything even worse, Campbell said he decided to un-retire.
In his letter, sent individually by e-mail to each MP and Senator, Campbell said “it staggers my mind how continuously these postings are being made.”
He calls for tougher legislation to crackdown on “hate-mongers” who lurk on online forums like those maintained by the Craigslist free online classified ads websites, posting inflammatory, racist messages.
“You wouldn’t want to read them as an adult, but your children [have] access to them,” Campbell added.
“It is quite evident without appropriate legislation that addresses online hate and racism it will continue into the next generation, and the next generation, and the next generation.”
Craiglist did not respond to a request for comment by the Langley Advance Times.
Campbell has said it would help if the federal government would restore section 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Act, which allowed the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to go after online hate propagandists, fining them as much as $10,000.
The law was repealed by the then-Conservative government in 2013 following a ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the section violated freedom of speech.
The decision was supported by several groups critical of the law, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association which complained the law was used or threatened to be used against anti-American protesters, French-Canadian nationalists and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.
The Federal Court of Appeal later declared the section was constitutionally valid and did not violate freedom of expression, but by then, it had been repealed.