This might be a legitimate freedom-of-speech issue or it might not.
There is a difference between personally disputing someone’s claim about themselves and using an irrelevant* issue to smear them during a political campaign.
*Irrelevant to the political issue the campaign is about, not irrelevant absolutely.
Yes, totally agree. We just had a special election here, and for a month, we received flyers in the mail from both candidates, saying what a crumb-bum the other candidate was. Must have put out a fortune for all of those flyers. Anyway, the election is over, and nobody got fined for the nasty words said about the opponent, of which there were plenty.
IN the US, free speech does not give one the right to slander or to defamation of character.
Looks like in Canada there are also laws against what is colloquially called “hate speech”. If someone decided to defy the law they would be prepared to accept the legal repercussions. As Baretta said “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”.
As to everyone in a free society, if one does not like the laws, work to change the law.
Okay, so if we want to make elections great again, then perhaps the progressives ought to stop labelling their opponents as homophobes, racists, Islamophobes, transphobes, etc., etc., to smear them. This smearing of opponents rather than discussing actual issues has become the go-to strategy for the left progressives, but prosecutions only seem to occur when it is one of their own who are being smeared.
The other aspect of this issue is that the progressive left are actually using contentious social justice issues such as “homophobia,” “transphobia,” “Islamophobia,” as their political foil to target their opponents politically. If the opponent doesn’t fall into line on the reigning progressive position, they will be attacked and smeared based on little more than their failure to align.
If you are advocating keeping these “free speech issues” out of politics, then let’s keep them out completely.
As the Smollett case is demonstrating, the progressive leftists can even go so far as slander their opponents by hoaxing a crime and they will still walk away unscathed, but a mere reference to someone’s actual gender will result in a heavy fine.
Another case in point is the upcoming Alberta election where the Alberta New Democratic Party is carrying on a campaign of smearing their UCP opponents using 20 and 30 year old “dirt,” but doing very little to actually present a platform besides “we’ll spend more” at the same time as insisting they will be fiscally responsible and balance the budget by 2023.
As long as justice is so unevenly applied we can expect reactions, even some that are ill-considered or desperate. Let’s apply principles consistently, then, shall we?
I would encourage people to read the Vancouver Sun’s report that was linked in the OP’s link. It gives a little more detail on the decision, specifically:
So a few thoughts:
This seems to be within the realm of Canadian law, but I’m speaking on this from an American perspective and how SCOTUS works. I’m not sure how the Canadian Supreme Court compares.
I think it is a bit extreme to compare this to a “whites only” sign. Whatcott’s flyers hold almost no power over Oger, at most possibly influencing the vote enough against Oger, but that doesn’t seem to be proven here. The “whites only” signs actually did have power over where certain people could go.
Respect for a person would dictate that we do not discuss, let alone publish documents, about their genitals in order to stop them from being elected to serve in public office, to keep them from a job, etc. Remember, the Catechism is very clear that we must avoid unjust discrimination.
Whatcott went to the trouble and expense of printing 1,500 flyers. He must have known he was breaking the law. If you think a law is a bad law and you want to change it, fine. But if you knowingly commit an illegal act, you have to be ready to face the consequences.
2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community.
2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.
The two citations render the issue a matter of prudence. Do the electorate have a right to the truth about a candidate who holds for public office, a position of authority? Yes.