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R v Keegstra, [1990] 3 SCR 697 (Link)


K was a teacher over 10 year period in Alberta. He told his students that the Holocaust was a tool to bring about sympathy for the Jews. He was accused of being anti-Semitic and charged under hate propaganda legislation (section 319(2) of the Criminal Code). He brought a Charter challenge under section 2(b).


The term expression embraces all content of expression irrespective of the particular meaning or message sought to be conveyed and no matter how invidious and obnoxious the message.


Hate Speech causes harm to: (1) Target group; (2) Society at large.

Hate is a marginal form of expression; it does not facilitate debate -- rather, it silences it.


Legislation upheld under section 1 of the Charter.


Per McLachlin J (dissent): Political process rationale: FOE is instrumental in promoting the free flow of ideas essential to political democracy and the functioning of democratic institutions;
** Essential precondition for the search for truth
** Marketplace of ideas (competing ideas vie for supremacy): No guarantee that the truth will prevail, but without FOE it would be impossible; In addition to truth, it creates a more relevant, vibrant and progressive society;
** Important to self-realization of both the speaker and the listener;
** The stifling of free speech has been used throughout history as a tool of oppression.

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