Quick facts about human rights complaints in the area of publications and notices
Albertans have a right to make complaints, and the Commission has a duty to resolve these complaints
The Alberta Human Rights Act protects Albertans from discrimination on grounds such as race, colour, gender, disability, and religious belief, and in areas such as employment, services, tenancy, and publications and notices.
The Act gives Albertans the right to make human rights complaints that fall within these protected areas and grounds.
The Act also gives the Commission the statutory duty and authority to resolve complaints of discrimination that fall within these protected areas and grounds.
See Quick Facts about Commission complaint resolution processes for more information.
The Act protects Albertans from discrimination in publications and notices
The publications and notices section of the Act is section 3.
Section 3(1) states:
3(1) No person shall publish, issue or display or
cause to be published, issued or displayed
before the public any statement, publication,
notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other
(a) indicates discrimination or an intention
to discriminate against a person or a class or
(b) is likely to expose a person or a class of
persons to hatred or contempt
because of the race, religious beliefs, colour,
gender, physical disability, mental disability, age,
ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of
income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of
The Act also upholds the right to free expression of opinion
Because freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our Canadian way of life and a fundamental freedom listed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Act also upholds Albertans' right to free expression of opinion. Section 3(2) states:
3(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to
interfere with the free expression of opinion on
None of the human rights complaints opened in 2015-16 fell under the area of publications and notices
None of the grounds cited in human rights complaints opened in 2015-16 fell under section 3 (publications and notices), which is usually one of the least cited sections.
In 2015-16, the Commission opened 821 human rights complaints
The majority of grounds (83 per cent) cited in 2015-16 were cited in complaints of discrimination that fell under section 7 of the Act.
In 2015-16, nine per cent of grounds cited fell under section 4 (publicly available goods, services, accommodation or facilities), the second most commonly cited section.
The Commission has a duty to resolve human rights complaints in the area of publications and notices
When a human rights complaint is made in the area of publications and notices, the Commission has the statutory duty of balancing Albertans' right to be free from discrimination in publications due to race, colour, religious belief and the other protected grounds with Albertans' right to free expression of opinion.
The Commission follows the same complaint resolution processes for complaints in the area of publications as for complaints made in the other areas such as employment, services and tenancy. See Quick Facts about Commission complaint resolution processes for more information.
The Commission is guided by the Act and by court decisions
The Commission is guided by the Act and by court decisions in determining what constitutes a contravention of the Act in the area of publications and notices.
In addition, section 31 of the Act allows a human rights tribunal to submit questions of law to the Court of Queen's Bench and ask for the Court's opinion to assist them in making their decision.
The human rights panel* assigned to hear a complaint made by Harvey Kane and the Jewish Defence League of Canada against Alberta Report submitted five questions to the Court. Justice Rooke provided an important opinion that is used by the Commission in analyzing complaints in the area of publications and notices. See Kane v. Alberta Report, 2001, ABQB 570 for the Court's opinion.
See the following decisions for examples of how human rights panels have applied the opinion in Kane v. Alberta Report. Each decision also includes information on the other court cases considered by the decision maker.
Harvey Kane and The Jewish Defence League v. The Silver Bullet
Quintin Johnson v. Music World Ltd.
See Lund v. Boissoin, 2012 ABCA 300 (Alberta Court of Appeal, October 17, 2012) for an Alberta Court of Appeal decision upholding the dismissal of a human rights complaint under section 3.
For more information
For more information about Commission processes and activities see the Annual Report or visit the Commission's website.
*Effective October 1, 2010 human rights panels are called human rights tribunals.
Revised: November 30, 2016