Saturday, June 21, 2008

Articles denouncing the censors at the Canadian Human Rights Commission

1: National Post:  George Jonas: All speech is free in Canada except speech we happen to hate

 

2: Ottawa Citizen: We need not fear words:  A commission that seeks to protect us from hurtful statements would transform us into victims, cowering before the mere words of another

 

3: National Post: The Post editorial board: Here's hoping Professor Moon reins in the Canadian Human Rights Commission

 

4: Sask Leader-Post: Back to basics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Jonas: All speech is free in Canada except speech we happen to hate

Posted: June 20, 2008, 7:17 PM by Marni Soupcoff

George Jonas

Few institutions conjure up George Orwell’s dystopia of 1984 as readily as the Canadian Human Rights Commission. A premature baby, born seven years ahead of Orwell’s schedule, the CHRC has been as smugly doubleplusgood as the satirist’s Ministry of Love, though not remotely as powerful or quite as evil.

Give it time, I say.

Worried that time isn’t on its side, the CHRC launched an independent review of some of its policies this week, coupled with an in-house review of some of its practices. “Independent of what?” you may ask. Rest assured, not of the Zeitgeist that created the 1977 Human Rights Act and its notorious Section 13-1. The likelihood of an organization like the CHRC instituting a probe for any purpose other than self-justification is remote.

To borrow Orwell’s language, anyone retained by Canada’s thinkpol should be a goodthinker, fluent in newspeak. He ought to bring to his task a bellyfeel about crimethinkers and the correct way of dealing with them. He should have a capacity for doublethink and recognize the importance of keeping anything malreported out of the public discourse, especially away from such prolefeed as the Internet.

Is Waterloo University’s Richard Moon, the law professor retained by CHRC to head the review, such a person? I’ve no idea. I expect Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch, Q.C. and her advisors think he is, otherwise they wouldn’t have retained him. The human rights industry is fighting for its life. Not a charity under the best of circumstances, when the Ministry of Love is in survival mode, you don’t want to meet it in a dark alley.

Rest at: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/06/20/george-jonas-all-speech-is-free-in-canada-except-speech-we-happen-to-hate.aspx

 

 

 

Mark Mercer . We need not fear words

A commission that seeks to protect us from hurtful statements would transform us into victims, cowering before the mere words of another

 

Mark Mercer

Ottawa Citizen Special


Thursday, June 19, 2008

 

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has engaged Richard Moon, an expert in constitutional law and a professor at the University of Windsor, to review its policies with regard to suppressing and punishing expression.

Although the primary task of the CHRC is to combat discrimination in housing and the workplace, the commission seeks also to protect marginalized and vulnerable Canadians from hateful or contemptuous expression. It derives its authority to do so from Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the section according to which "it is a discriminatory practice ... to communicate ... any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt" on the basis race, religion, or other specified characteristic.

More than a few critics charged right from the beginning that Section 13 denies Canadians freedom of expression. These critics have long demanded that the CHRC get out of the censorship business entirely. But the matter didn't make it onto the general public's radar screen until late last year, when the CHRC, as well as two provincial commissions, accepted to hear a complaint that Maclean's magazine had exposed Muslims to hatred and contempt.

In announcing the review, the CHRC states that it wants to know "how to balance freedom of expression with the need to protect Canadians from hate messages."

How will Prof. Moon go about finding that correct balance?

It is important that we be free to express ourselves, both our opinions and our emotions, for many reasons. Some have to do with the pursuit of knowledge, others with our interests in knowing what people really think.

But the two best reasons are these:

1) a person's opinions and emotions are constitutive of who that person is, and expressing who he or she is is central to living a life worth living;

2) no political system is fair that does not grant to each citizen the opportunity to try to influence policy through saying whatever he or she wants to say however he or she wants to say it.

Rest at: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=0268fe7c-dd25-4106-a59b-2232eef22b4d

 

 

 

The Post editorial board: Here's hoping Professor Moon reins in the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Posted: June 19, 2008, 11:00 AM by Marni Soupcoff

NATIONAL POST

Editorial

We don't hold out much hope that a review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's powers to investigate allegations of hate speech will come to much. For one thing, the commission handpicked its own investigator. But mostly we are skeptical because even when calling for the review, chief commissioner Jennifer Lynch demonstrated no clear understanding of free speech or the value of protecting it.

There can be no doubt Canada's human rights bodies — federal and provincial — are in need of investigation. They are out of control, far more interested in imposing political correctness than defending free speech.

They have become laws unto themselves, too, routinely suspending rules of evidence that have taken centuries to perfect.

Consider that Ms. Lynch's own lead investigator at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), Dean Steacy, recently testified at a hate speech hearing that "freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value." The man charged with pursuing incidents of allegedly hateful messaging on the Internet in Canada clearly has no clue of the 800-year-old tradition of free expression that protects Canadians.

Even Ms. Lynch herself gets it largely wrong. In an interview with the Post on Tuesday, she exclaimed, "I'm a free speecher. I'm also a human rightser," as though the two were separate. No human right is more basic than freedom of expression, not even the "right" to live one's life free from offence by remarks about one's ethnicity, gender, culture or orientation. Ms. Lynch seems mistakenly to believe there is a delicate balance between free expression and other, newer human "rights."

She also tipped her hand about the probable outcome of the review she had initiated: "We have a responsibility to lead the debate on how we can keep our policy up to date to effectively regulate hate on the Internet." Her interest appears to be in not whether to regulate speech, but merely how to do it "effectively." There seems to be little doubt in her mind that a government agency must have the ultimate say.

Frankly, we doubt the sincerity of Ms. Lynch's call for review, especially given the timing. The CHRC has recently landed itself in hot water for the overly aggressive methods it appears to have used to investigate white supremacists on the Internet and for investigating Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine over material they published that offended some Muslim law students. It's a little too precious that the CHRC has chosen now for its self-examination, when a private member's bill in Parliament would strip it of the right to investigate hate speech allegations altogether.

Rest at: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/06/19/the-post-editorial-board-here-s-hoping-professor-moon-reins-in-the-canadian-human-rights-commission.aspx

 

 

 

 

Back to basics

 

The Sask Leader-Post


Thursday, June 19, 2008

 

Recent decisions by human rights commissions are cause for concern.

In Ontario, a Christian group violated the rights of a worker who had to quit her job after revealing she was gay, says the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

A Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission tribunal ordered a marriage commissioner who refused to perform a same-sex ceremony for religious reasons to pay $2,500 in compensation to the gay complainant.

One cannot divorce religious faith from personal and public life. They are inseparable. To sever that link is to misunderstand faith and goes to the very identity of the person.

In the Saskatchewan case, the commissioner in question did find another person to perform the ceremony. Why, then, wasn't this the end of the story? To me, it's a case of gays throwing their weight around: you must tolerate my preferences, but I won't tolerate yours!

There is a much larger issue -- human rights commissions overstepping their original mandates.

In recent years, commissions have expanded their jurisdiction into areas never intended by their founders. Provincial and federal commissions were established during the 1960s and 1970s to investigate and try to settle complaints of discrimination involving employment, delivery of services, and housing, based on race or gender.

Human rights commissions have undergone a profound shift since then -- from noble intentions to be protectors of human rights to activists, "advancing" specific rights by expanding their jurisdiction into areas never intended. Liberal MP Keith Martin has raised the concern that, through human rights tribunals, "someone could be using the power of the state for their own private initiative... (for) one person's private crusade." Activists have chosen to bypass the courts to gain access to taxpayers' money via these commissions to fund their prosecution of those who express differing opinions.

It costs nothing to lodge a complaint. The resources of the state are available to the complainant and there is no penalty for launching frivolous complaints, as in a civil court. The individual targeted by the complaint, however, is saddled with the presumption of guilt until proven innocent and has no similar financial resources from the state for their defence. They are left with a large legal bill, upwards of $40,000, to defend themselves.

Rest at: http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/letters/story.html?id=ce9cbe83-3e4f-49d4-aab7-7f9592b81093