Blasphemy in Canada is a statutory offence which are laws that are written and passed down by legislatures and those which have been accepted by society and differ from common law which is that that has been developed on the basis of preceding rulings by judges.
The last time a court convicted someone of blasphemy in Canada was 1935 and Section 296(3) of the Criminal Code tempers the law by stating: "No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject."
Now some may argue that this law is a quaint but quirky relic of our past akin to it being illegal to paint wooden ladders red in Alberta or kiss your wife on a Sunday in New Brunswick but the fact of the matter the law still does exist and in 2009 Ireland was forced to dust off their Constitution and confront their blasphemy law and rather then take the opportunity to bin it they instead beefed it up to include Islam and other religions and increase the fine to around $50,000 Canadian.
The Irish public was not impressed and even the Churches were somewhat opposed. Atheist organisations began posting blasphemous material in an attempt to spark a court challenge and after 5 years Ireland agreed in Oct of this year to hold a future referendum on whether the blasphemy law should dropped.
It is important to the world that Ireland do away with it's Blasphemy Law as many Muslim nations pushing the UN for a globally recognised blasphemy law have cited Ireland as a non Muslim country which supports the concept. Pakistan, one of the more vocal supporters currently has 16 people convicted of blasphemy on death row (Pakistan suspended capital punishment in 200 and sees 10s of thousands of cases each year with most being ways for the Muslims to prosecute the few Christians left.
In Canada the half century plus slack in the lack of prosecutions under 296(1) has been picked up by the various provincial Human Rights organisations who have circumnavigated 296(3) by creating their own defacto blasphemy laws and have increasingly gone after citizens and media outlets who insult religion under the guise of compensating and redressing "hurt feelings". One of the more famous cases was the tremendous amount of tax dollars spent trying to prosecute the Western Standard magazine for having published the Mohammed Cartoons as part of the story during the global rioting by Islamists.
While the publisher Ezra Levant was exonerated in the end but forced to close his magazine, it was very chilling to witness the hidden video put on youtube of the government integrating Levant trying to establish "intent" in order to determine how vigorously they would pursue a prosecution and how much the Calgary Imam who made the complaint should be compensated or if at all. Media across Canada have also acknowledged that they practice self censorship due to the constant threat of being forced to defend themselves against an HRC tribunal and their bottomless source of tax funding.
So should Blasphemy Laws in Canada even still exist? Are they not used enough or are they used so much by quasi courts that they have suppressed our freedom of speech and expression?