Tuesday, June 30, 2009

[TRANSCRIPTS] CHRC Grilled in Parliament on Criminality, Hate Postings and Abuse + Prof Robert Martin's Testimony


Transcripts are now available for the recent hearings before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (Parliament of Canada - House of Commons).


The last two meetings of the Subcommittee investigated the out of control Canadian Human Rights Commission and their abusive tactics and questionable investigative techniques. A video of Conservative MP Russ Hiebert grilling CHRC heavyweight David Langtry before the subcommittee has been posted on the YouTube video site.





Subcommittee on International Human Rights (SDIR)



Meeting 27 – June 18, 2009  

Witness: Prof Robert Martin, Professor, University of Western Ontario


Meeting 26 – June 16, 2009
Witnesses: David Langtry, Deputy Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission and Alan Borovoy, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association





Relevant articles and blog posts on the Parliamentary committee investigation of the Human Rights Commission






MONTREAL GAZETTE: Rights commission threatens our liberty

Rights commission threatens our liberty


The Gazette | Monday, June 29, 2009


The Canadian Human Rights Commission appears to have learned little from its adventures of the last few years. In its latest report to Parliament it stubbornly defends its authority to police the Internet - or any other electronic medium - for opinions that are "likely to" expose people to hatred or contempt.

This is, as we have said previously in this space, an unacceptable assault on free speech.

With frightening eagerness to rein in Canadians' free expression, the commission finds the authority to restrict honest opinion in Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, a notoriously vague bit of legal writing that forbids transmissions "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt." The subjective power of that "likely to" makes everyone vulnerable to bureaucratic whim, malice, or distemper.

The section was designed to protect people - especially members of minority groups - from any kind of hateful telecommunication messages. That was later expanded to include the Internet, and as just about every organization of any size has a Web presence now, that means that the commission can police just about everyone, from newspaper columnists to Christian parsons. Ironically, it could even include the commission itself, which published its report on its website, complete with a verbatim citation from a telephone message it had ruled to be hateful. The horror!

The report does ask Parliament to define hatred and contempt more clearly, which could be an improvement. But the definition the report favours is the woolly-minded one the Supreme Court read into the Human Rights Act 18 years ago. The Supremes ruled that expressions of "unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny, and vilification" that are "ardent and extreme" are not protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedom. In other words, the commissioners are to judge not just the content of questionable transmissions but the mental state of the transmitters.

The report does make suitable noises about freedom of expression being a fundamental right and the commission not wanting to limit the rough and tumble of democratic debate. But then it says that every citizen has the right "to be treated with equality, dignity and respect," not just by the state but by everyone - a frighteningly vague notion.

The report also asks for an amendment to the act that would allow it to dismiss quickly any complaint it deems trivial or unfounded. That would have saved it the embarrassment of having to rule on complaints against Maclean's magazine columnist Mark Steyn and journalist Ezra Levant.

But it would be far better for Parliament simply to repeal Section 13, and leave the question of hate speech to the criminal courts where it belongs - if it belongs anywhere. If a citizen's liberties are to be threatened, that citizen deserves the full protection of the law.

The commission likes to cite a Supreme Court decision that ruled its speech-limiting powers constitutional. But that decision was simply permissive, not obligatory. A courageous Parliament would ignore it and rein in the commission.






Monday, June 29, 2009

JERUSALEM POST: Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian NAZI Party

Several spies and a bottle of rum


Jun. 18, 2009

In 1965 the Canadian Jewish Congress hired a spy, John Garrity, to infiltrate the Canadian Nazi Party, and even went so far as to spy on at least one other Jewish group.

This rather bizarre chapter in Canadian Jewish history has come under scrutiny recently following the release of Canadian lawyer and journalist Ezra Levant's new book, Shakedown, in which he makes the claim that in the 1960s, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) paid John Garrity, "a small-time mercenary, to build up the fledgling Canadian Nazi Party."

Levant argues that although Garrity's "mission was justified as an attempt to learn more about neo-Nazism," Garrity and CJC ultimately helped turn "the Canadian Nazi Party into a media sensation."

Levant wrote in the Ottawa Citizen on May 16 that in his view, the CJC has always been eager to "trump up the... specter of Nazis in Canada as a pretext to get censorship laws." Levant told The Jerusalem Post he believes the CJC's conduct in 1965-66 was designed "to convince Parliament to give them more 'hate' laws."

Is there any basis to Levant's claim that the CJC "built up" or "propped up" or helped finance the Canadian Nazi Party, and turned it into a media sensation to serve its agenda of pushing for anti-hate speech laws?

RABBI REUVEN Bulka, then still serving as co-president of the CJC, wrote to the Ottawa Citizen that the only money "expended by a private detective [Garrity] hired by the Congress to expose the Nazi group was money put out to purchase a bottle of rum," to which Levant responded in the same paper that even though buying a Nazi a bottle of rum is "pretty strange in itself," the CJC did far more than that.

Levant referred to an exposé that Garrity, an ex-cop, now deceased, published in Maclean's magazine on October 1, 1966, about infiltrating the Canadian Nazi Party for the CJC. At the time, the leader of the Nazi Party was John Beattie, 24, an unemployed clerk who, Garrity wrote, had been "evicted from his fifth apartment in a year from not paying his rent."

Levant said that article shows that Garrity had far more street smarts and know-how than Beattie, drove Beattie around in his car, acted as his bodyguard and usually paid for his drinks, for over a year.

Garrity's article states that "early in 1965... there was just Beattie and a couple of teenagers... in the Nazi business...." He describes Beattie's Nazis as "misfits" and said that there were "only a dozen active members, plus perhaps 100 unseen supporters...." He noted that Beattie was in touch at the time with the leader of the Nazi party in the United States, George Lincoln Rockwell, and had even met Rockwell.

According to Garrity, before sleuthing for CJC, he had spied on Beattie on behalf of a Jewish splinter group, N3, made up of Holocaust survivors who felt that the CJC was not doing enough to confront the Nazi threat.

According to Garrity, he was hired in September 1965 and the most he was ever paid was $200 a month. Assuming he worked for CJC up until his article was published in McLean's, he was in their employ for 13 months.

"If Garrity was paid by CJC $200 per month for 13 months in 1965-1966," Levant points out, "that's $2,600 in fees... That's about $17,000 in 2009 money, plus disbursements... I'd like to know if the [CJC] donors involved knew what their money was going to."

Regarding Beattie's security, for example, Garrity wrote, "I'd often have to dash across to wherever Beattie was living to inspect a caller he'd refused to admit to his apartment, to make sure the man wasn't a potential assassin."

At one point, Garrity got a tip that the N3 was going to disrupt a planned meeting of Beattie's with stink bombs. He wrote: "…I told my Jewish Congress contact. When I drove Beattie past the hall and he saw about 15 cars full of people plus a score of police cars posted there on the advice of the Jewish Congress he quickly cancelled the meeting - and thanked me."

It would appear that CJC had tipped off the police about the planned illegal activity of another Jewish group, which resulted in Beattie not being physically harmed.

TODAY, BEATTIE is 67 and works as a paralegal court agent in northern Ontario. He told the Post that Garrity, who he learned was a spy only with the release of the Maclean's article, had acted as his driver.

"I had no car," he said. "Garrity drove me everywhere and Garrity fed me. He bought me lunches and snacks all the time, every day... and sometimes he'd buy me groceries... He bought me lots of drinks... I had a baby then and he'd bring used clothing, sometimes."

In his exposé, Garrity - who called himself the party's "Heinrich Himmler" - wrote that once the Nazis started meeting in secret locations, supporters would be "picked up, often by me" and driven to the gathering.

Levant said that Garrity's and Beattie's versions of events show that the CJC, by providing him with food, transportation and security, was helping to "prop up" Beattie.

But Ellen Scheinberg, director of the Ontario Jewish Archives, rejects any suggestion that Garrity built up the Nazi Party. She told the Post that, on the contrary, Garrity's work destroyed it. She notes that Garrity described his role thus: "I was chosen secret-service chief, with the job of checking applicants for membership. Later I did check about 15 prospective members, and turned down those who seemed intelligent and therefore dangerous."

"How could Garrity have been building up the party," she asks, "if he was eliminating precisely those members who would have been the most useful to it, rather than seeking them out?"

Scheinberg repeats the assertion that CJC's "financial support of [Beattie's Nazis ] was in fact limited to the purchase of a bottle of rum."

Beattie says, looking back: "I was insane at the time... I know that's no excuse for what I did" and "I just loved the media attention I was getting."

ONE OF the most controversial aspects of what occurred in 1965 involved a rally that Beattie announced he would hold at Allan Gardens in Toronto on May 30, 1965, with supporters wearing swastika armbands.

Levant claims that the CJC, seeking to push its agenda for bringing in legislation limiting hate speech, wanted to unleash a major counterdemonstration to Beattie's planned event. Historian Frank Bialystok, in his book Delayed Impact, which examines Canadian Jewry's collective memory regarding the Holocaust, wrote that by February 1964, the CJC had made a tactical decision to publicly lobby for anti-hate legislation "partially in response to the pressure exerted by the survivor organizations."

According to Bialystok, about two weeks prior to Beattie's planned rally, Ben Kayfetz, CJC's executive director, had written, "…We knowingly dropped the quarantine method [backroom lobbying and ignoring agitators publicly] in relation to the neo-Nazi agitation of the past year and a half for a number of reasons: 1. Their kind of agitation (e.g. sprinkling leaflets from the air) commanded [the] public and could not be suppressed. 2. If we were going out on an intensive campaign for laws, we had to tell the public-at-large about this hate material and could not do so under the quarantine treatment...."

Levant claims that since the CJC was going on "an intensive campaign for laws," it responded to Beattie's proposed rally in a manner that would help turn the demonstration into a media sensation.

He says that the statement CJC issued on May 28, two days before the rally, is consistent with this theory. That statement read: "Toronto apparently faces the gross provocation of a public Nazi demonstration... The Canadian Jewish Congress feels that the very threat of attempting such a demonstration... is insulting and provocative to the great majority of citizens of this city. It indeed poses a threat to the peace and good order of the community... For the citizens of Toronto, there can be only one response: to condemn completely and unreservedly the acts of the self-styled Nazis, and to bring to bear the weight of an outraged public opinion against the provocations they plan."

N3 and other Jewish groups also issued letters and leaflets urging a mass opposition attendance at the rally.

To give speeches and demonstrate, Beattie needed a permit from the city. According to Bialystok, Beattie had asked Garrity to go to City Hall to get the permit, but Garrity had "conveniently forgotten." Both CJC and N3 knew two days prior to the rally that Beattie didn't have a permit, but neither informed the public. "If Beattie had tried to speak, he would have been charged with public mischief," Bialystok wrote.

Instead, there was a crowd of 4,000 people, many of whom were Jewish demonstrators, and a riot ensued, with eight Jews being arrested for attacking members of a motorcycle club who happened to be passing by, but whom they mistook for Beattie's Nazis. Their bail was put up by N3.

The Toronto Star reported that several thousand people, many of them Holocaust survivors, were in the park looking "for Beattie or his men." Beattie himself appeared alone and was charged with creating a public disturbance.

AS LEVANT is quick to point out, Beattie was acquitted on the charge of unlawful assembly because there were no other persons assembled to act in concert with him. Bialystok wrote that Beattie's Nazi's were "a tiny group of misfits who posed little threat to law and order."

He also wrote that "the anti-Nazi groups may not have planned the violence, but neither did they call off the demonstration when their leaders knew that Beattie did not have a permit."

Further, Bialystok wrote that "the demonstration could have been averted had community leaders, from both Congress and the anti-Nazi organizations, informed the community in advance that Beattie did not have a permit."

Levant claims that CJC didn't inform the Jewish public of Beattie's not having a permit because it wanted an enraged citizenry to help it in its push for anti-hate laws. "They managed to parlay a second-rate carnival act into the raison d'etre for censorship laws that would otherwise have likely failed to become law," he says.

"Seriously: the Canadian Nazi Party was often a party of one... It wasn't even an organization in any legal sense. It didn't have a bank account. It didn't have a newsletter. It didn't have any formal organization - no bylaws, no constitution," he adds.

Levant gleaned this information from a report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December 1969. It also referred to Beattie as "a poor leader and organizer," as having "50 followers," no "membership" and suggested "that the majority of the monies donated is spent by Beattie on personal use."

The RCMP wrote, "It is not believed" that Beattie "could exert adverse influence on any person other than some supporters of the party and this would only be to a degree."

Beattie told the Post that in the photo in the MacLean's article, Garrity is shown with a box he referred to as "correspondence," but "that box was filled with all of the newspaper clippings about me." He added that a lot of times "it was just me and Garrity and a couple of other guys... It wasn't much of a Nazi Party... I craved all of the media attention... I loved it... There were a few characters who were anti-Jewish maybe four or five who were anti-Semitic. They liked to blame the Jews for everything."


… See rest of article at: 

http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1245184864673&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull


Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Protest to Support Mother of Children Seized Because of Her White Nationalist Politics


Supporters of the Canadian Association for Free Expression will hold a protest outside Family Court [408 York Street] in Winnipeg tomorrow morning (June 23) at 9:15 to support efforts of a 26-year old Winnipeg mother trying to regain custody of her children. The children  -- a girl 8 and a boy 3 -- were seized by Manitoba Family Services in March of 2008 after the  girl came to school with a swastika  painted in magic marker on her wrist. Manitoba Family Servives is seeking permanent custody of the children alleging that the political views of their parents may cause them emotional harm.


"This case is a scandal," says Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression. "I call this state kidnapping of the children of dissidents."


"Absent serious physical abuse, parents have the right to have and raise their children. Sadly, this is not the first time people with unpopular religious or political views have had their children taken away from them in this country," Fromm added from CAFE's office in Rexdale, ON.


"Because she wanted family services to communicate through her then lawyer, the mother has been denied visiting rights to the children since February," Fromm explained." How can separating emotionally vulnerable children from their natural parents possibly be in the children's best interests? he asks.


"The young mother is penniless and can no longer afford legal counsel," Fromm said. "Her supporters provided her with bus fare to return to Winnipeg to fight for custody of her children," he added.


CAFE has raised money for and provided advice to the young mother who cannot be named by court order.







Contact Paul Fromm, Director,

Canadian Association for Free Expression,

P.O. Box 332,

Rexdale, ON, M9W 5L3



905-278-2413 fax



Monday, June 22, 2009

[VIDEO] Roy Green Show - June 20, 2009: Levant vs. Lynch

Roy Green Show - June 20th, 2009: Ezra Levant and Jennifer Lynch

[Watch all three clips here]


Roy Green is one of Canada's great radio hosts, and he has a massive audience across the country on the Corus radio network. He called up the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and invited Jennifer Lynch to debate me on his show.

On the one hand, Lynch has publicly called for a debate about censorship in her rage-filled speech to her fellow HRC profiteers at their trade convention last week. On the other hand, she didn't mean "debate" when she said debate. She meant "she gives a speech, and we listen obediently".

If she turned Green down, and refused to be on the show with me -- like she did with CTV's Newsnet -- she'd look like a coward and a fool. Again.

But if she debated me, she'd have to answer questions she'd rather not answer -- questions about everything from her outrageous six-figure expense accounts for luxury junkets, to the neo-Nazi memberships that at least four of her staff use at t....

Harry Abrams - Spying on Free Dominion since 2007




Harry Abrams - Spying on Free Dominion since 2007

I was reading about the CHRC case against Arthur Topham and the Radical Press that was initiated by one Harry Abrams from the B'nai Brith. As part of the evidence submitted, Harry Abrams admitted to using a fake internet identity (SURPRISE!) named "Brian Esker" when he was corresponding with Arthur Topham and trying to build the case against him. Here is a link to those revelations: http://www.radicalpress.com/?p=786

Well, some time ago, I had a conversation with Harry Abrams on the Western Standard blog. I had never met Harry Abrams or had any contact with him, but it was obvious that he knew me.

Here is a link to that conversation, and here are a couple of his posts to me:


From my chair it looks like Connie's misapprehensions and re-parroting of other peoples' misapprehensions/expressed distortions have already cost her plenty.

And I see no reason for that not to continue based upon her above posted remarks and the stuff she continues to allow/encourage to be posted on her own blog.

Posted by: Harry | 2008-10-23 10:23:50 AM



You can publish, post, host, whatever you want. But let those who have been damaged by hurtful expressions and wilfull (especially multiple and ongoing ones) have the means to respond, clear their names and/or seek justice.

But Connie, you've heard this many times before. And disregarded it many times. That's why you're where you are.

If I was you, I would attempt to make amends with Mr. Warman. But I'm not. So this now has to play out, and the piper still must be paid at the end of the party.

Posted by: Harry | 2008-10-23 12:28:00 PM

Anyway, I commented before that I thought those posts sounded like they were written by some kind of evil James Bond villain, but I didn't think too much of it at the time, other than that it creeped me out.

But, after I read Arthur Topham's report, I decided to check the FD member list to see if there was any sign of Harry's alter-ego, Brian Esker.

Guess what???

Not only did the creepy little man sign up at Free Dominion here, but his sign-up date shows that he did so just THREE DAYS after the story of the Gentes CHRC complaint against Free Dominion was posted on this site.

Now, at that time, I had never even heard the names "Harry Abrams" or "Richard Warman", the CHRC complaint was not of an anti-Semitic nature, and Free Dominion was (as it is today) the most pro-Israel forum in Canadian cyberspace.

So, why would B'nai Brith agent, Harry Abrams/Brian Esker have been lurking around Free Dominion like a hideous vulture the moment the CHRC attacked us?

And, since he didn't post anything under that username, has he been using other usernames to post here since then? (Something like "Lil's Husband", maybe??)

So many questions, aren't there?

But, all of this points to something very organized and very sinister, and we WILL get to the bottom of it. I promise.






Friday, June 19, 2009

[VIDEO] CHRC Grilled in Parliament on Criminality, Hate Posts, Richard Warman and Abuse

Canadian Human Rights Commission called before the Parliament of Canada to explain their abusive tactics, posting of hate messages, paying serial complainant Richard Warman, theft of a womans Internet connection, and many other abuses.

This is video of the: Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (Parliament of Canada - House of Commons)
Thursday, June 18, 2009 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Watch the full parliamentary video on the Parliament of Canada Website

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Douglas Christie challenges Richard Warman to a debate about freedom of speech and the Human Rights Commission.

National Post editorial board: The Canadian Human Rights Commission's unbalanced view of critics





National Post editorial board: The Canadian Human Rights Commission's unbalanced view of critics


National Post | June 18, 2009

Monday in Montreal, Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), launched a counterattack against critics who, over the past couple of years, have suggested the commission is out of control and should have its power to investigate alleged hate speech taken away from it. In an address to a conference of other human rights commissioners, an excerpt of which is posted here, Ms. Lynch claimed to welcome debate on the future of human rights legislation no fewer than five times, then proceeded to dismiss anyone who questioned the legitimacy of commissions as unworthy of listening to.

She accused many of her institution’s detractors in “the mainstream media” of clouding the facts about commissions’ roles and tactics in an attempt to discredit them. “Critics of the human rights system are manipulating and misrepresenting information to further a new agenda: one that posits that human rights commissions and tribunals no longer serve a useful purpose.”

But claiming that the commissions have overstepped their original purposes and outlived their usefulness is a legitimate argument. It is clearly one Ms. Lynch disagrees with, but she does not get to be the final arbiter of what is and isn’t acceptable in debates about the commissions’ future.

[VIDEO] CHRC fails to CENSOR CTVNews debate on Censorship!


Jennifer Lynch tries to bully CTV into cancelling my appearance on the news

This evening, Jennifer Lynch, the chief commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, tried to have CTV Newsnet kick me off their interview program Power Play, hosted by Tom Clark.

To their great credit, CTV refused to be bullied -- and it was Lynch who wound up off the show.

You can watch the episode here.

What an embarrassment Lynch and her CHRC have become to this government -- and to all Canadians.

Here's the story -- it's pretty simple. Lynch and I were both invited on Clark's show to talk about the CHRC's memo issued to Parliament this week. The CHRC is demanding that they be allowed to continue their censorship, and in fact arguing that Canada's police should be more active in laying censorship charges, too. I wrote about the substance of it yesterday.

Lynch's spin is that she wants to "start a debate" about censorship -- how Orwellian is that? Well, CTV was happy to provide a forum for such a debate. But CTV made the honest mistake of thinking Lynch actually meant it. They didn't realize that the CHRC's idea of a debate is Lynch lecturing, and Canadians listening obediently.

When Lynch heard it would be me against whom she would have to debate, she tried to veto my appearance.

She tried to censor me -- and, much more ominously, CTV.

She tried to bully CTV into blackballing me from their show.

She tried to tell them how to run their news business.

In other words, she was just being herself: a soft fascist; a censor; a bully; someone who thinks the government can tell people what they can hear or say.

It's with tremendous admiration that I can report CTV didn't waver for a moment. My invitation was never once thrown into doubt. Lynch's was.

She was the one who threw down the conditions to CTV: either I had to go, or she would.

She thought CTV would say, "yes, boss."

To her surprise, they didn't.

And that ruined Lynch's plans, because she was ready to sell her mush on TV, but she ended up kicking herself off the show!

She panicked. Instead of it being just her on CTV, it would be just me! So she sent along a young lackey from her office, named Philip Dufresne. But Dufresne was told he could only go on the show if he promised not to talk to me!

CTV aren't dummies. They saw how journalistically delicious this was. So they agreed to have us on back-to-back, instead of in an actual debate. I had the advantage of going second. And -- far more importantly -- Clark spent a good amount of time exposing the behind-the-scenes machinations the CHRC had gone through to try to scupper my appearance.

Any guest who pulls such a stunt deserves to be exposed for it. But a censor like Lynch, claiming to respect free speech and claiming to want a debate? Well the Orwellian hypocrisy was just too delicious for CTV to ignore. Clark opened with a powerful -- but professional -- timeline of Lynch's bad behaviour. And he ended his interview with Dufresne with a pretty basic question: would you ever debate Levant? Dufresne pretended he didn't hear the question -- but tens of thousands of CTV viewers did.

The CHRC's media magic at work!

Rest at: http://ezralevant.com/2009/06/jennifer-lynch-tries-to-bully.html

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OTTAWA CITIZEN: "The most dangerous part of the Canadian Human Rights Act is called Section 13"



Rights revisited


The Ottawa Citizen    June 17, 2009 7:49 AM


 After years of rancorous debate, there seems at last to be a consensus that human rights commissions, at both the federal and provincial levels, are in serious need of reform.

Even the Canadian Human Rights Commission admitted the need for change in its recent report to Parliament on freedom of expression. Of course, the reforms it suggests are much less sweeping than its critics would like. Still, it's a start. This is a conversation Canadians must have, because the current system is sowing acrimony and mistrust, and risks treading on the right to free expression.

The most dangerous part of the Canadian Human Rights Act is called Section 13, which governs communication through electronic means, including the Internet. It allows the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to investigate cases such as that of the Maclean's article written by Mark Steyn in 2006 entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam," which was of course posted online.

The Commission asked law professor Richard Moon in 2008 to have a look at whether the system was achieving the right balance between freedom of expression and what it calls "freedom from hate." Moon recommended the repeal of Section 13, arguing that the prosecution of hate speech should be limited to speech that incites, advocates or justifies violence. The Criminal Code, Moon rightly argued, can take care of that kind of speech. The rest should be protected.

The commission, in its latest report, rejects that recommendation. It does support, at least in part, a few of Moon's other ideas -- suggesting, for example, that the act define "hatred," and that costs could be awarded in exceptional cases where one party abuses the system.

But what the commission doesn't do is define, in any real way, what it means by "harm." Although it insists its role is not to protect people from being offended, it does speak in nebulous terms about the "right" to be treated with dignity and respect -- by one's neighbours as well as by the government.

And accusers do not have to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. The federal commission points out that it is not a court, that its role is not supposed to be punitive. It doesn't send people to jail. Nonetheless, proceedings can be costly, damaging to reputations and incredibly stressful. Censorship is censorship, and the state can't just censor speech it doesn't like.

The Steyn case was never referred from the commission to the tribunal. Nonetheless, it made a lot of people nervous, and justifiably so. It looked very much like a sign that the system had gone far beyond rooting out examples of extreme hatred, to policing political correctness in the media.

The commissions, as they are today, do not have the complete trust of Canadians. In Ontario, some of the Tories vying to lead the party have suggested abolishing the province's human rights commission and tribunal. Christine Elliott, one of the front-runners, has cautioned that such a controversial stand might damage the party's chances in an election, just as John Tory's stand on school funding damaged him.

It would be a shame if the John Tory experience were to frighten Ontario Progressive Conservatives away from taking principled positions on important issues. Abolition might not be the right answer, but an election would be a very good time for Ontario to take a close look at its human rights commission, and ask whether it's doing the job we want it to do.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MACLEANS Live Blog of CHRC's testimony before Parliamentary Subcommittee on Int'l Human Rights

Gavel to gavel video coverage of the CHRC testifying can be seen at:







Of all the committees on the Hill, the CHRC wound up here? Liveblogging the Subcommittee on Int'l Human Rights

Jun 16, 2009 by Kady O'Malley

ITQ has to admit that she's a little bit curious as to how, exactly, officials from the Canadian Human Rights Commission wound up on the witness list at the  Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which begins its study of "human rights commissions" this afternoon. It's not that she doesn't think it's a worthy topic ― goodness knows there's enough confusion and controversy surrounding the issue ― but doesn't this particular committee usually stick to topics with an international focus? Human rights in China, persecution of religious minorities in Iran, the possible repatriation of Omar Khadr � you know, that kind of thing? Maybe the CHRC is just here to help MPs get their bearings on the various raisons d'etre of CHRC's global counterparts. Nevertheless, she'll be there for today's meeting, which will also include an appearance by Alan Borovoy, general counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

12:20:05 PM
Greetings, fans of chronically undercovered committee meetings chaired by the perpetually effervescent Scott "Not The Evil One. Wait, Which One Do You Consider The "Evil" One Again?" Reid! ITQ managed to make it to the Reading Room just before the macadamia cookies ran out, and can report there is a sizeable contingent of witnesses and onlookers on the scene already ― from what she can overhear of the ongoing convesations, there are at least a half dozen or so representatives from the CHRC, including deputy chief commissioner David Langtry, Sebastien Sigouin and Monette Maillet; Alan Borovoy is also present and accounted for, but beyond that, I'm not entirely sure who's who.

So far, I'm the only reporter here ― although that could be due to my pathological punctuality ― and a few MPs are starting to arrive, including Russ Hiebert, who was responsible for the motion that established this particular study, and the NDP's Wayne Marston. For the Bloc, we have � or will have, according to the nameplates, Eve-Mary Thai Thi Lac, and Mario Silva and Irwin Cotler will be up for the Liberals. On the government side, we have David Sweet � who I remember quite fondly from the Khadr hearings � and � wait, is that Bob Rae? It is! I wonder whose spot he's taking?

Anyway, w should be getting underway soon.

12:37:28 PM
And � here we go!

The chair gavels down � by the way, thank you, Derek Lee, for that delightful bit of parliamentary slang � and reminds members that time really is of the essence; since there are two panels of witnesses, he suggests sticking to a single round of questions, which seems to go over fine.

He then turns the floor over to David Langtry ― the CHRC's deputy commissioner, in case you've already forgotten � to deliver his opening statement, which � as is far too often the case � is mostly a cut-and-paste from the About US section of the CRHC website.

Anyway, Langtry notes that the vast majority of the cases they handle are related to discrimination ― usually employment-related ― and notes that the CHRC has a fairly good track record when it comes to alternate dispute resolution ― 86% of cases are successfully dealt with at the commission level; the rest go to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. He points to various bits of equality trailblazing by the CHRC � pay equity, same-sex rights, access for disabled persons � and ― you know, I hope he and his staff hasn't spent all this time painstakingly assembling a feel-good opening statement only to have the committee focus on Section 13 to the exclusion of all else.

12:45:24 PM
Oh, there it is ― Langtry notes that a report on how the commission handles those pesky S13 complaints has recently been tabled in the House, and will eventually be sent off to committee, although probably not this one.

Langtry goes onto discuss the CHRC's international activities, both on its own terms and by working with partners, on everything from labour rights to indigenous peoples.

12:48:30 PM
That's it for Langtry, as far as his opening statement; the first Liberal up is Mario Silva, who wonders about the United Nations UPR � the review of human rights in various countries � as well as the commission's work with the Organization of American States.

Langtry begins with the UPR, and notes that the CHRC actually filed a submission with the United Nations during the preparation of this year's report; so far, being under the international microscope has been a "good experience," he tells the committee, and has encouraged more interaction with both civil society and government.

For the second question, Langtry cedes the floor to his co-witness, Sebastien Sigouin, who notes that representatives from the Inter-America Human Rights Commission will be visiting Canada next week to learn more about our human rights commissions.

Silva wonders if it is the tribunal that handles most of the "difficult" cases, since one can't file a complaint directly with the CHRT, but only through the CRHC; Langtry agrees that this is often the case ― when the commission refers a case to the tribunal, it doesn't make any finding of discrimination.

12:54:53 PM
Over to the Bloc Quebecois, and Jean Dorion, who wants to know more about the "A" rating that the CHRC has received from the ICC. Langtry confirms that this is the highest status awarded; it gives the CHRC full status at the United Nations Human Rights Council. There are also B and C accreditation, which, unsurprisingly, give less access and credibility to the agencies so ranked.
Langtry gives a quick rundown on the "Paris Principles" � which have to be met for "A" status to be granted � it must be free from government interference, have a national mandate and be fully funded, and the commission itself has to be founded in legislation or the constitution; it can't simply be established by motion.

Doiron is the first � but I suspect not the last � to bring up the debate ongoing over ― oh, wait, he went in another direction from what I was expecting: adding social and economic conditions as prohibited grounds for discrimination. That, it seems, is under active consideration right now, but will ultimately be up to Parliament.

1:01:29 PM
Wayne Marsden begins *his* seven minute round by congratulating the commission on its good work, and wonders what the CHRC put forward as Canada's most significant achievements in its submission to the UPR. Aboriginal rights, and social conditions, Langtry says � although it also noted with some dismay Canada's failure to sign onto the Treaty for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

1:04:13 PM
Marsden muses that the living conditions in some Manitoba First Nations communities may eventually be found to have a role in the spread of swine flu, but then moves right onto the issue of free speech ― the Maclean's thing is mentioned as one of a litany of controversies that has arose ― and asks for Langtry's thoughts on the absolute right of freedom of speech. Langtry reminds him of the need to "balance" rights, when there is competition between two or more, and references the Moon Report, which he'd like Parliament to give "full consideration" when it studies the report. "Our own consideration of it," he says, based on various court cases, and the 2001 amendments to the act to deal with anti-terrorist laws, is that they need to look at defining "hate" so that � he keeps saying Maclean's, and it's kind of throwing me off, you guys � only the "extreme cases" are heard by the CHRT. The rest, like the Maclean's case, have been dismissed. He believes only the most narrow and extreme cases should be within the commission's jurisdiction, and would also like the Act to be amended to allow complaints that don't fall into that very small category to be dismissed quickly,

So � there?

1:08:52 PM
Finally, Hiebert gets his shot, and � oh, goodness. He begins by accusing the CHRC of conducting "secret hearings", refusing to disclose evidence to defendents, and other questionable activities, and wonders who decides what procedures should be used � and what rules are in effect, or "do you make it up as you go along"?

Langtry � who seemed to be expecting this � notes that the commission does attempt to practice procedural fairness, but is a bit baffled by Hiebert's questions on "legal tactics". He reminds Hiebert that the commission doesn't hold hearings � that falls to the tribunal � but notes that in very rare cases � only one instance of which he is aware � witnesses are allowed to testify in camera for security reasons.

1:12:00 PM
Hiebert now goes off into a rather disjointed and oddly familiar sounding tirade about "questionable practices" by the commission, including hiring disreputable former police officers, posting illegal material, and ― yeah. You get the picture. Langtry calmly explains that not everything that is reported in the media � or on blogs, and yes, that was *me* adding that � is simply untrue, such as the "theft of internet". As for the Code of Conduct, the commission is subject to all governmental codes of conduct and ethics. "We do not post hate messages," he stresses � and would not condone its employees doing so.

1:16:01 PM
You guys, this is seriously turning into a tamer, non-unparliamentary version of one of the thousands of CHRC-related comment threads that clog up the internet, but just for the record: Hiebert accuses the CHRC of paying a Certain Former Employee Turned Witness cash to testify, and suggests he has collected thousands of dollars in awards. Langtry denies that this is the case, but agrees to look into it, and provide the committee with further information in writing. Hiebert � who, I suspect, thinks that he's about to have a gotcha moment of his own � wonders from whence is derived the right to freedom from hate, and Langtry explains that it actually came from Parliament, as well as precedent.

Scott Reid tries to bring this portion of the meeting to an end ― we still have Alan Borovoy to go, remember � but David Sweet first wants to express his regret that they *all* didn't get to question the witnesses. Reid suggests that they bring them back at a later date, and everyone seems to be okay with that, and proceeds to sneak in one last question for himself: He wonders if the commission differentiates between tribunal decisions, and legal precedent. The answer: Of course.

That's it for the CHRC � now, the CCLA!

1:23:06 PM
After a two minute witness-shuffling recess, Reid introduces Borovoy, who wants to begin by telling the committee the areas of *agreement* that he has with defenders of Section 13; first of all, the CCLA believes that freedom of speech is not, and cannot be absolute, and that there is no priority that one right has over another in the abstract; these are dealt with in the specific context. He believes the bulk of the human rights legislation should remain, and the agencies designed to enforce it should be encouraged to continue doing so.

1:25:00 PM
That said � ah, it's always the "that said" that throws the monkey wrench into the honeypot, isn't it? � is that free speech is an essential element in the lifeblood of democracy. The current anti-hate laws are too vague, and too wide, Borovoy avers ― "with all the definitions in the world", when it comes to wilfully inciting hatred, it's still too vague. "Where does strong disagreement end, and hatred begin," he wonders. Then there are the other weaknesses � no defence of truth, or reasonable belief of truth � and � oh, is he talking about us now? He is! Wow, lucky I'm here, huh?

Anyway, Borovoy notes that, at the time, it was said that it was "perfectly obvious" that Mark Steyn's article "did not rise or sink to the level of hatred" ― but that just isn't true, as far as he's concerned. He then reads a line from the article in question that suggests � or might support � that many Muslims support terrorism � the murder, beheading, you name it of innocent people. To be honest, I'm not totally sure what his point is ― he thinks a second tribunal would come to the same conclusion as the first, as far as Maclean's, so � wouldn't that suggest that in this case, the definition wasn't too vague?

He then moves onto another contentious article � this one from the New Republic, thankfully, and related to Kosovo, which � he puts forward, perhaps as a rhetorical device � could foment hatred against Serbian people.

1:32:56 PM
Borovoy then goes on for a while about historians, and Nazis, and how some of the work produced by the former on the latter could incite hatred against Germans and other "indigenous populations" that may have cooperated with the Nazis. His point � oh, *that's* what his point is: He believes that, in its current form, Section 13 could make it illegal to tell the truth.

He really is a courtly gentleman, by the way. Unfailingly elegant and polished in his presentation, which is � in his words "as always, respectfully submitted."

1:35:24 PM
Bob Rae takes the lead for the Liberals, and � oh boy, this is more than I'd hoped for; an actual philosophical debate over whether laws against inciting hatred are inherently problematic. "You don't want to penalize the speaker because of the violence of his audience," Borovoy reminds them � although you can if he *encourages* violence. Rae points out that the criminal law is used "very rarely", but if the CHRC didn't have the mandate to deal with lesser instances, that would force the police to use "more drastic punishment". He eventually admits that he's "not as eloquent" as Borovoy � "but you know where I'm going with that", which leads to Borovoy slyly pointing out that he's not a clairovoyant.

He does seem to get it, however ― although he takes what is, I suspect, for a veteran civil libertarian like himself the only consistent position, which is to question whether any legal penalties are needed in any but the most extreme cases. Rae is unconvinced ― he fears that we would lose the benefit of a "more tightly focused Section 13″, which everyone supports. "If we lose that, we end up with the Criminal Code" � and that's a "tough road" to follow.

1:45:01 PM
"I am not one who thinks a democratic country has the right to determine what its citizens believe," Borovoy says in response to a long and slightly meandering question from Doiron on the nature of free speech; that doesn't mean that he wouldn't support *other* sanctions. In the Keegstra case, he notes, once it was revealed what he had been teaching students in his classroom, he lost his job, was voted out of office � that's right, he was the *mayor*, I'd forgotten that � and eventually, was left to "wallow" in his infamy. Which, as far as Borovoy can see, seems a fitting finale.

1:47:24 PM
Marsden is back up, with a question about something that concerns him just a touch in Borovoy's recommendations ― focusing on the threat of imminent violence, for instance. He repeats his support for a "statutory definition of hatred" ― good luck coming up with that, kids ― and suggests that the CHRC report *does* address many of the complaints that are out there. He admits that really, this is more of a statement than question, but he is "frightened" that the very existence of the commission is being threatened by an isolated few decisions or instances. "The important part is that we don't minimize their ability to perform a very important job." If there had been a human rights commission in Nazi Germany, or in Kosovo � well, Hitler might not have ever come to power.

Borovoy points out that, actually, Germany *did* have hate laws, and persecuted dozens of individuals for anti-Semitic speech. "It didn't matter at the time it was most needed," he notes.

Borovoy then goes on to laud the CHRC � and human rights commissions in general � for all the other work it does, which he supports, and suggests it could play an even greater role in providing educational programs. "It's not an either/or situation," he reiterates ― it's not use the CHRC, or the criminal law. Marsden, however, is sceptical � he believes that racism is a learned behaviour, and when he saw open racism against Sikhs in Hamilton in the 1970s, it "shocked" him.

1:55:16 PM
That's all for Marsden, which means it's one last round for Team Government; Sweet � who always seems to be vaguely afraid that he'll be caught redhanded being entirely reasonable � suggests that the challenges facing the CHRC may have as much to do with perception as reality, and notes that all politicians are well aware that the media occasionally gets something wrong.

Aside from that, however, he worries about the stigma faced by individuals who find themselves the object of complaints � no wonder they hire lawyers, he muses ― they're terrified they'll be found guilty of a hate crime.

1:57:50 PM
Hiebert tries his "is there a right to freedom of hatred" question out on Borovoy � perhaps to see if he can get an answer more to his liking � but the witness gets all philosophical in response. As for the law � which is what Hiebert is going on about, and tries again � Is there a right from freedom of hate? Yes, of course, Borovoy tells him � it's in the Criminal Code. He does, however, obligingly tell Hiebert that he doesn't think there *should* be such a law.

Hiebert then moves on to re-ask his question about court costs, which would be a "good deterrant" against frivolous complaints, but this time, Borovoy vehemently disagrees ― it would *also* be a good deterrant against bringing complaints at all. "When you talked about a real court, I became a bit uneasy," he confesses � because "real justice" is dispensed in many tribunals in our society, and there is no "magic" in the black robes. Wow � smackdown. Hiebert sulkily explains that he was *talking* about legal procedures, but you can tell he was hoping Borovoy would be less � well, independent-minded.

Eventually, he gives Borovoy an opening to give some other examples of other sanctions that can be used against hate speech, and Borovoy points to the reaction that a blatantly racist remark would engender from the community, and then delivers what turns out to be a surprisingly all encompassing closing statement on the many ways to counter hate. Honestly, if this meeting had a winner, it would *definitely* be Borovoy.

That's it, by the way ― it's nearly 2pm, which means it's time to head to the House for QP. See you later this afternoon at the Chalk River hearings at Natural Resources!

Macleans.ca is proudly powered by WordPress
http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/06/16/of-all-the-committees-on-the-hill-the-chrc-wound-up-here-liveblogging-the-subcommittee-on-intl-human-rights/ printed on Jun 16, 2009


CHRC In front of Parliament Committee - WATCH NOW

CHRC In front of Parliament Committee - WATCH NOW




Watch the CHRC and Alan Borovoy in Action









Free Speech on the Agenda at Human Rights Sub-Committee


(Ottawa) – MP Russ Hiebert, member of the House of Commons Sub-Committee

on International Human Rights says free speech will be on the agenda tomorrow

when the sub-committee commences its study on reform of the Canadian Human

Rights Commission.

"I'm pleased that we're going to be hearing from representatives of the Canadian

Human Rights Commission, as well as one of the pioneers of human rights in

Canada, Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association," says Mr.


"These hearings are designed to study human rights practices in other

democracies so that we can improve our Canadian system of human rights

justice," says Mr. Hiebert. "We clearly have some serious problems with our

current system, including the controversial Section 13 of our current human rights

act which seeks to suppress some legitimate forms of speech, including freedom

of the press."

The hearings, which will be televised, commence at 12:30PM on Tuesday June

16, 2009 in Room 237-C.





Parliamentary hearings into CHRC's censorship begin, Lynch refuses to attend


I'm pleased to report that Parliamentary hearings into the Canadian Human Rights Commission's censorship powers will begin today at 12:30 ET. They'll be televised.

Witnesses include Alan Borovoy -- and whatever lackey the CHRC sends this time.

I understand that Jennifer Lynch has refused to attend -- just like she refused to debate me on television. MPs who would dare to ask her questions are personae non grata to her, just like I am.

Princess Lynch is above answering questions -- it's so dirty. It's for the little people. And, surprise! She's busy on another junket, this one to the annual five-star human rights industry gala, in Montreal. Montreal is just 90 minutes down the highway from Ottawa. I bet you Lynch's expense tab for this getaway is more than $1,000. We'll find out soon enough. I wonder if she'll expense a visit to the spa?

I'm guessing Lynch will send that same useless intern she sent in her place to the CTV debate. I wonder if Lynch will give him the same instructions again -- not to answer questions.

Seriously: why the hell would Lynch stoop to answering questions from mere MPs? She's not in the debate business; she's not interesting in taking instructions from legislators. As her bizarre memo demonstrates, she's all about issuing the elected representatives of the people orders, and telling them what to do.

Here's the press release by MP Russ Hiebert announcing the hearings. Money quote:

We clearly have some serious problems with our current system, including the controversial Section 13 of our current human rights act which seeks to suppress some legitimate forms of speech, including freedom of the press.

No wonder Lynch is boycotting the hearings.

She should be subpoenaed, and arrested for contempt of Parliament if she refuses.