Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CHRC: No Section 13 Complaints in 2010 ... so what do we need this law for?

CHRC says: No Section 13 (Internet censorship) Complaints in 2010!
… so what do we need this law for?

On July 5, 2011, David Gollob the Director of Communications for the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission wrote a letter to the editor of the Langley Advance. In the letter, Mr. Gollob states that “The Commission did not accept any complaints under section 13 in 2010.”  Mr. Gollobs can be read in its entirety online at:

Section 13 is the controversial censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which allows fanatical rights enforcers the ability to gag so-called “thought criminals” for life. Along with lifetime gag orders, Kangaroo courts which hear the complaints can also issue heavy fines up to $30,000 in total. So far over 37 Canadians suffer under a permanent lifetime speech ban, which if violated can result in up to five years in jail for contempt of court.

Now that yet another year has passed without a single Section 13 complaint being filed to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, why on earth do we need this censorship law on our books?   

In all of 2010, not a single complaint was accepted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission … and amazingly the sky did not fall.  Jews are not being beaten up on the streets, Nazis have not taken over Parliament, and homosexuals are not being rounded up into camps. Life went on without the iron fist of the state looking over our shoulders and telling us what we can and can not say. Of course if you listen to the human rights maniacs, the physical and psychological security of the Jewish community would be in peril if Section 13 was struck down.

After looking at cases such as the Mark Steyn/Macleans Magazine debacle, it is clear that Section 13 has a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Canada.  How many other Canadians would want to be ground through the CHRC’s process – which is clearly meant as a punishment itself? In the case of Macleans Magazine, it cost them around $1,000,000 to defend the case, and at the end of it all, Kenneth Whyte, Editor in Chief of Macleans Magazine said that “There will absolutely be self-censoring, and it will be harder going forward to have clear and full debates on a lot of important issues like race or religion or public policy because of this.” [Daily Gleaner, Print media will stay relevant because it must: Whyte, January 31, 2009] How many editors and newspapers will allow commentary on controversial issues if they are going to face being labeled as racist or Islamophobes, in conjunction with years of costly litigation, where the tribunal boasts a 98% conviction rate? 

Mr. Gollob from the CHRC also states in the letter to the editor that “However, one such complaint, involving Maclean’s magazine, did receive media attention four years ago. That complaint was dismissed by the Commission, as it was found to have no merit. As that case illustrates, the Commission works to ensure that only complaints of real and actual discrimination under the Act are accepted.

The decision by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to drop the complaint against Macleans Magazine was done to stop the onslaught of negative media the CHRC was receiving.  During the time the CHRC was investigating Macleans, hundreds of articles and editorials appeared in the media from coast to coast.  The CHRC wanted the daily negative media publicity to stop, so they suddenly found freedom of speech and dismissed the complaint.

The truth behind the dismissal of the Macleans complaint is that the Investigator of the case wasn’t so sure it should just be dismissed.  The Investigator highlighted that what Mark Steyn wrote could expose Muslims to hatred and contempt.

In the March 25 2008 CHRC Investigators report on the Macleans complaint, the Investigator wrote in paragraph 49:

“It is recommended, pursuant to paragraph 44(3)(a) of the Canadian Human Rights Act to request that the Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal institute an inquiry into the complaint if the Commission is of the view that:

•           the material does appear to meet some of the hallmarks of hate and is of such a nature that it may likely expose persons of the Muslim faith to hatred and contempt;

•           a decision by the Tribunal addressing the fact situation in this case may be in the public interest as it raises new considerations regarding the relationship between section 13 and the right of freedom of the press, as aspect of the Charter guarantee of freedom of expression.”

The complaint against Macleans Magazine was dropped when it reached the “political level” at the CHRC, but it was obvious that the investigator in the case recommended “in the alternative” that the case go to a tribunal.

The CHRC’s “political level” is staffed by political appointees like the Jet-setting world traveler - Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch and Deputy Chief Commissioner David Langtry.  They have the role of reviewing the complaint and approving it to be sent onto a hearing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.   Unlike the investigator in the Macleans case, the political Kangaroos smelled the political wind, and threw out the case like a hot potato.

How many editors and newspapers will allow commentary on controversial issues if they are going to face being labeled as racist or Islamophobes, in conjunction with years of costly litigation, where the tribunal boasts a 100% conviction rate?  As Macleans Magazine reports: "Cases like these foster an atmosphere in which sensible people who know they can't summon the resources to defend themselves will censor themselves. It creates an ever-growing body of very regressive law when it comes to the integrity and freedom of a democratic forum."  (John Dixon, a two-term former president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association) 

Self-censorship has always been a goal of the CHRC, which is why they have undertaken costly impact prosecutions on the few that resisted.  Making examples of what will happen to those that dare to stand up to the CHRC ensures that few will ever stand up in the future.

The complaint against Macleans Magazine was laid by a Muslim group named the Canadian Islamic Congress.  The Muslim complaint comes on the heels of CHRC staff drumming up business.  On June 29th, 2006, Harvey Goldberg, the senior policy advisor for Section 13 with the CHRC traveled to Toronto to meet with a delegation of Muslims from the Canadian Arab Federation.  As a result of that meeting, Mr. Goldberg wrote to Ian Fine, the Director of the CHRC’s oddly named “Knowledge Centre.”   

In Goldberg’s July 5th, 2006 memo, he states:

A couple representatives of the Muslim community expressed concern that the threshold for hate was too high and that much of what they perceived as anti-Islamic comments in the media and elsewhere would not be included in the current definition of hate. I referred them to the [Name redacted by CHRC] article in the Hate on the Internet magazine, copies of which I had distributed.

They also questioned whether the Commission would accept complaints dealing with anti-Muslim sentiments. I assured them that the Commission was fully committed to fulfilling its mandate under section 13.
Overall I think this round of meetings was successful in the continuing process of networking with key stakeholders and of furthering the Commission initiatives in the areas of disability and hate on the Internet.”

It looks like the representatives of the Muslim community were 100% correct with their skepticism of the CHRC.  On June 25th 2008, in a highly political decision, the Canadian Human Rights Commission refused to accept the complaint filed by Canadian Islamic Congress against Rogers Media Inc. (Macleans Magazine).   

The decision by the CHRC stated that: “Overall, however, the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature as defined by the Supreme Court in the Taylor decision.  Considering the purpose and scope of section 13 (1), and taking into account that an interpretation of s. 13(1) must be consistent with the minimal impairment of free speech, there is no reasonable basis in the evidence to warrant the appointment of a Tribunal.  For these reasons, this complaint is dismissed.

It appears that after some 250 articles in the mainstream press highly critical of the CHRC, the Commission suddenly found freedom of speech.

It’s time to scrap Section 13 and get the government out of the thought control and censorship business.