Saturday, October 25, 2008

NATIONAL POST: A new low for 'human rights'

A new low for 'human rights'

Ezra Levant,  National Post  Published: Friday, October 24, 2008



The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) kept its head down during the recent federal election. With no less than four ongoing investigations into its conduct, it wisely stayed beneath the radar. But with the election over, it's back at it, with its most egregious violation of our civil rights yet.

In Saskatchewan, the CHRC is prosecuting a former Member of Parliament for politically incorrect mail that he sent to constituents five years ago.

Jim Pankiw, an MP who served from 1997 to 2004, is on trial for sending out flyers criticizing Indian crime in Saskatchewan. If convicted, Pankiw can face massive fines. He could also face other orders, ranging from a forced apology to a lifetime ban on commenting about aboriginal issues. If Pankiw refuses to comply with such an order, he could serve time in jail.

Aboriginal crime was a big issue for Pankiw's constituents. According to Statistics Canada, aboriginals make up only 9% of Saskatchewan's population, but they are 52% of the province's criminally accused.

Pankiw wanted to get tough on crime; he wanted to abandon aboriginal "sentencing circles," and end racial quotas. His tone was aggressive, but talking tough about crime isn't supposed to be a crime in itself. Whether or not his was the best solution was up to his constituents. That's how a democracy works.

But for CHRC lawyers and bureaucrats to weigh and measure Pankiw's political views is an outrageous incursion into the political affairs of Parliament.

It's unlikely that Pankiw will win, because the CHRC isn't a real court, and real defences don't apply. It's presided over by a non-judge, and the hearing is stacked with every kind of politically correct apparatchik around. Take one of the "experts" relied upon by the CHRC, Derek Smith of Carleton University. As Terry O'Neill reported when

the complaint was filed more than four years ago, Smith found proof of Pankiw's racism in the colour of ink used in the brochures: black and red, on white paper.

Those are "colours very much associated with aboriginal people, for whom four colours have come to be associate with the four cardinal directions and have great spiritual significance," wrote Smith. "One can hardly claim that the symbolism in this pamphlet is not inflammatory." A real judge would laugh that out of court. A real prosecutor would be too embarrassed to run with it.


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