FAQs: Human rights in statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, emblems or other representations

Note: The word statement is used on this web page to encompass statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem, and other representation.

  1. Are websites covered under section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights Act?

    No, they are not. The Canadian Human Rights Commission covers messages that have been "communicated telephonically," therefore complaints about web pages should be reported to them. You can contact the CHRC.

  2. Can I complain under the statements section if I see a sign at work that promotes hatred against a particular group?

    Signs that are posted in a workplace generally fall under the employment sections of the AHR Act. If you make a human rights complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission because of a sign at work, you would, as appropriate:

    • make a complaint under section 7 of the AHR Act and check "employment practices" on the Human Rights Complaint Form or
    • make a complaint under section 8 of the AHR Act and check "employment applications, advertisements, or interviews" on the Human Rights Complaint Form.

  3. Can I make a human rights complaint against a newspaper, magazine or other publication if the author says he or she is just expressing an opinion?

    In Re: Kane (2001) 94 Alta.L.R. (3d) 87, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, the court found that the freedom of expression section (section 3(2) of the HRCM Act) is not an absolute or automatic defence against making a statement that indicates discrimination or an intent to discriminate, or that is likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt based on one of the grounds protected by the Act. In other words, authors cannot justify discriminatory or hateful statements by merely arguing the statements are a freely expressed opinion. For more information, see Detailed discussion of Section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights Act. This section includes information on the two-step test used by courts and human rights tribunals to balance the competing objectives of freedom of expression and the elimination of discrimination.

Revised: March 16, 2010



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