Former NDP MLA candidate Morgane Oger said flyers handed out during the 2017 provincial election by Bill Whatcott amount to hate speech.
That’s the case she and others are making this week before the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
The flyers promoted a Christian message, warning of the “growth of homosexuality and transvestism.” They also included a photo of Morgane Oger alongside a photo of an older man, which the flyer’s author, well-known activist Bill Whatcott, claimed was Oger.
“You don’t just get to say whatever you want and hurt people,” Oger, a transgender rights activist, told Global News on Tuesday.
She said Whatcott and others continue to spread the same message.
“There’s been a constant stream of hatred and harassment,” Oger said. “My Twitter and my Facebook and my email are regularly filled with people who very, very calmly and clearly give hateful commentary.”
Whatcott defended the flyers as freedom of religion and speech.
This isn’t the first time Whatcott’s words have landed him in trouble with the law. In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled he violated hate speech laws when handing out flyers denouncing homosexuals in Saskatchewan.
The hearing for this case continues on Wednesday and is scheduled to wrap up on Monday. There are five intervenors in the case, including the BC Teachers Federation and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF).
JCCF president John Carpay said Whatcott has a right to express himself, particularly during an election campaign, and those words shouldn’t be interpreted as hate.
“We’ve got to have a clearer standard than simply offensiveness and that’s the problem with the legislation,” Carpary said. “Even the term ‘hate’ — I’ve never met somebody that can explain the difference between hate and strong dislike.”