Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Breakenridge: Score (A Big) One for Free Speech

 

Score (A Big) One for Free Speech

 

Posted 9/2/2009 10:46:00 AM

 

After five long years, the case against Marc Lemire has ended with a stunning rebuke of Canada's censorship laws from none other than the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. From the ruling

 

I have determined that Mr. Lemire contravened s. 13 of the Act in only one of the instances alleged by Mr. Warman, namely the AIDS Secrets article. However, I have also concluded that s. 13(1) in conjunction with ss. 54(1) and (1.1) are inconsistent with s. 2(b) of the Charter, which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The restriction imposed by these provisions is not a reasonable limit within the meaning of s. 1 of the Charter. Since a formal declaration of invalidity is not a remedy available to the Tribunal (see Cuddy Chicks Ltd. V. Ontario (Labour Relations Board), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 5), I will simply refuse to apply these provisions for the purposes of the complaint against Mr. Lemire and I will not issue any remedial order against him.  

 

It will be very interesting to see what the impact and fallout from this verdict is, but it is a watershed moment. As Mark Steyn puts it

 

This is the beginning of the end for Section 13 and its provincial equivalents, and a major defeat for Canada's thought police. It's not just a personal triumph for Marc Lemire, but a critical victory in the campaign by Ezra Levant, Maclean's, yours truly and others to rid the Canadian state of this hideous affront to justice.

 

Speaking of Ezra Levant, he'll be joining us on the show at 8pm (MT) to discuss this case, and what the ruling means. Marc Lemire may still be a relatively obscure figure, but this case has revealed much about the nature of the tribunal process, and has exposed that process - and those involve in it - in many ways.

 

The state has no reason and no business hounding Marc Lemire as it did. While he is vindicated today, it hardly takes back everything he's gone through over the past five years. If the state had just left him alone, none of us would even know who he is. [DELETED]

 

Some insight into Lemire's views may be gleamed from this ruling, at least in terms of the nature of material he was posting on his site - oddly enough, this entire case seems to have nothing to do with anything Lemire himself has said or written. The ruling finds Lemire contravened Section 13(1) on one occasion - the posting of an article headlined "AIDS Secrets" From the ruling: 

 

For all the above reasons, I find that the AIDS Secrets article contains material that is likely to expose homosexuals and Blacks to hatred or contempt, and that Mr. Lemire communicated the matter within the meaning of s. 13 of the Act. The complaint in this respect has been substantiated.

 

In this we find the strange irony and double-standard of Section 13(1) - Lemire posted an article that is deemed to be deeply offensive to homosexuals and blacks. It appears to irrelevant as to why Lemire posted the article, merely that he did. By that standard, the CHRT itself is guilty, since many of the offensive words from that article are included in their ruling. In other words, the CHRT has caused these hateful words to be transmitted over the internet. Guilty!

 

The National Post has more, including this important passage on what happens next:

 

Mr. Hadjis' decision to reject the law as unconstitutional, in light of its penalty provisions, leaves a central area Canada's human rights in limbo, and kicks a political hot potato over to the government and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which can appeal the ruling to Federal Court  

 

Also, more from Jay Currie, Kathy Shaidle, and Blazing Cat Fur.

 

Posted By: Rob Breakenridge