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Newspaper editorials are not restricted by Ontario's Human Rights Code

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October 28, 2010

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For immediate publication

Toronto – The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that newspaper editorials are not covered by Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) intervened in this case, Whiteley v. Osprey Media Publishing Inc. and Sun Media Corporation before the Tribunal. The OHRC argued that section 13 of the Code does not restrict newspapers from printing opinions that some people may not like. The Tribunal agreed, saying “…publication of opinion in the media is a matter at the core of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in a democratic society”.

“The Code is very clear,” says OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. “Freedom of expression of opinion is protected by the Code. It was important for us to intervene in this case to ensure that principle was upheld.”

The case, Whiteley v. Osprey Media Publishing Inc. and Sun Media Corporation, involved an allegation that an editorial in the newspaper, The County Weekly News was discriminatory against people who have moved to Prince Edward County from elsewhere. The applicant alleged discrimination on the basis of place of origin in the delivery of services.

The Tribunal found that the content of a newspaper editorial is not a ‘service’ within the meaning of section 1 of the Code, nor is it a “notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other similar representation” within the meaning of section 13 of the Code. Accordingly, the application was outside the Tribunal’s jurisdiction and was dismissed.

Disponible en français

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Pascale Demers
Communications Officer (Bilingual)
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-3579