A bill that would give the provincial government more teeth to stop hate groups from obtaining legal status passed first reading in the Alberta legislature on Thursday.
Bill 206, Preventing the Promotion of Hate Amendment Act, was introduced by Craig Coolahan, the NDP MLA for Calgary-Klein.
“Alberta has seen a rise in emboldened hate groups with racist and extreme views,” Coolahan said.
“This is common-sense legislation and I am proud to bring this forward.”
When deciding whether to grant registration, the bill would give the registrar of Alberta Societies within Service Alberta power to look at whether a group has a lawful purpose.
Bill 206 will ensure organizations that exist solely to promote hate, such as white supremacy groups, will not be granted status as Alberta Societies.
If passed, the bill will also prevent new hate groups that may seek greater legitimacy from being incorporated under the Societies Act.
The bill will amend the Societies Act by:
1. It will make a “lawful purpose” a requirement of society status in Alberta. Groups will not be able to register if their stated purpose is illegal. This would include advocating or promoting violence or genocide that falls under federal hate speech laws.
2. It will require directors of a society to ensure that the activities of a society continue to be lawful. This would help to prevent organizations from stating a benign purpose and then engaging in hateful or violent activities anyway.
Only groups that promote hate against a person or class or persons as a core principle of their organization, or engage in activities that break federal hate speech laws will be affected.