RCMP grounds plane flying anti-Harper banner, citing “hate speech”

4 Sep

A pilot hired by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to fly over the Ottawa-Gatineau region with a banner reading “StephenHarperNousDéteste.ca” was ordered to land by the RCMP.


The pilot, Gian Piero Cambella, who has owned an aerial certified company since 1984, insists he never entered restricted airspace and checked in with air traffic control to make sure.


He was told by the RCMP that the banner’s message could be construed as hate speech. The RCMP, which has confirmed the plane had never entered restricted airspace, justified the grounding over worries of possible security threats.


The PSAC has claimed they were merely exercising their right to free speech. Hate speech usually refers to vitriolic attacks and statements designed to incite hatred against identifiable groups or members of them. Stephen Harper, of course, is not an identifiable group.


So, will Sun News defend PSAC’s banner as an issue of free speech? Or will they just call it hate speech?


Either way, Sun News would be hypocritical to not support the right of anyone to express any opinion they like on a banner in Canada. Sun News pundits have styled themselves as unrelenting champions of free speech. Further, they have long taken a hard-line stance against hate speech legislation and defended the right to express hate speech in the name of free speech.


In June, Sun News star Ezra Levant celebrated the passing of Bill C-304 as a victory for free speech. Bill C-304 scraps the ban in the Human Rights Act on internet and telephone-based hate speech. It also defangs the Human Rights Commission, removing its power to shut down pro-hate websites.


Eclipse News defends the banner in the name of free speech. Will Sun News do that same?


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