Top News

Bernier defends Saskatchewan candidate who urged 'more hate speech'

The leader of the People's Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, was speaking with people at the Legislative Building in Regina.
The leader of the People's Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, was speaking with people at the Legislative Building in Regina.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is standing by a candidate faulted for social media posts calling for “more hate speech” to stave off a violent backlash to “leftist authoritarianism.”

Bernier said on Tuesday that he spoke to Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek candidate Cody Payant and was satisfied with his explanation. He said he believes Payant was taken out of context.

“That candidate did nothing reprehensible,” said Bernier.

The controversy came after Payant posted a defence of free-speech activist Lindsay Shepherd on Twitter and Facebook about two weeks ago. Shepherd had been suspended from Twitter after an argument with trans activist Jessica Yaniv, where both levelled personal attacks at each other.

Payant then pivoted to criticizing “cowards” in the House of Commons who he believes are aiming to suppress free speech.

“Our country could use more hate speech, more offensive comments, more ‘micro-aggressions,’ more violation of safe spaces with words, and more critical thinking. Words are not violence and when we don’t have them to debate, and articulate our thoughts when communicating, then all we have left is guns,” he wrote.

“If our government wants to see real violence in response to a gradual creep of leftist authoritarianism in government then all it has to do is suppress free speech, the fundamental right in our constitution, and if it continues doing so for long enough, that is exactly what will happen.”

Bernier said Payant’s remarks related to talk of moving to a more expansive definition of hate speech. Justice Minister David Lametti has said he is looking carefully at recommendations to revive a definition the Conservatives trashed in 2013.

Bernier said the PPC opposes any change to the definition, so Payant’s view is in accord with the party.

“A new definition of hate speech will limit free expression and what he wants is to not limit free expression, like our party,” said Bernier.

Payant remains a candidate and will “continue to debate ideas,” Bernier said.

Asked directly if he supports the idea of increasing hate speech, Bernier said it depends on the definition.

“For some leftists and socialist people everything is hate speech. For us, when you debate there’s no hate speech,” he said.

Payant stood by his words in an email exchange with Postmedia. He said “h ate speech is best said out loud in the public square so it can be criticized and broadly rejected.”

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

-with files from Thia James

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories