Idiots Guide to Completely Idiotic Canadian Human
Steyn on trial.
By Mark Hemingway
of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” —Canadian
“Human Rights” Investigator Dean Steacy, responding
to the question “What value do you give freedom of speech when you
At issue is a cover story National Review’s own
Mark Steyn wrote for the Canadian newsweekly Maclean’s, titled “The Future Belongs to Islam.”
An excerpt from Steyn’s bestselling book America
Alone, the article highlighted the fact that demographic trends
suggest that Muslims may well become a majority in much of Europe and that this
obviously represents a threat to
The fact that a few fringe Muslims have reacted to Steyn’s article by invoking a once-obscure Canadian bureaucratic process to hold hostage the rights of all Canadians only goes to prove that Steyn needs to be heard, more than ever.
So with all due respect to our friendly neighbors to the north, what the hell is wrong with
In 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) was founded “to investigate and try to settle complaints of discrimination in employment and in the provision of services within federal jurisdiction.” While their mandate was suspiciously vague from the get-go, even those involved with the founding of the CHRC admit that it was never intended to do anything as abhorrent as regulate speech. At the outset, the commission’s responsibilities were fairly straightforward, e.g. investigating cases of discriminatory hiring practices within the government, discriminatory housing practices, and other cases in which someone might be subject to prejudice in an area under the purview of the federal government.
But with almost Newtonian certainty, bureaucratic power tends to expand over time, and so it was with the CHRC. In 1979, the commission set its sights on John Ross Taylor, leader of the Western Guard Party, an unsavory white-supremacist group. The commission found
Now whatever you think of
By 1990, the case finally wound up before the Supreme Court of Canada, in Canada (Human rights commission) v. Taylor. At issue were two conflicting pieces of law. First, section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
And of course the Canadian
Charter of Rights (similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights), which one would
think is pretty clear:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.
Supreme Court of Canada split 4-3 on a decision that declared that section
13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act did not violate the charter of rights,
and it remains constitutional. Oh sure, the justices in favor made grumblings
about applying a high standard when enforcing the Human Rights Act, but despite
their admonition, the general interpretation by the human-rights commissions is
that they now have free rein to regulate the media. The slippery slope has been
a toboggan ride to hell ever since.
What this means is that everyone in
As a result, the Canadian Human Rights Commission is
stunningly effective: In its 31 years of existence, not a single complaint
brought before it has been dismissed. That's right: Everyone is guilty before
God and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
But that’s only half the story. With the legal hurdles cleared, the national commission wasn’t alone in being empowered — the regional Human Rights Commissions and their corresponding tribunals were too. There’s a labyrinthine series of these kangaroo courts in
So when a group of Muslim law students filed suit against Steyn and Maclean’s,
they didn’t just go to the CHRC. They also went jurisdiction-shopping. In
addition to the national complaint, they filed complaints with the
The Commission is concerned that since the September 2001 attacks, Islamophobic attitudes are becoming more prevalent in society and Muslims are increasingly the target of intolerance, including an unwillingness to consider accommodating some of their religious beliefs and practices.
Unfortunately, the Maclean’s article, and others like it, are examples of this. By portraying Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics, including being a threat to “the West,” this explicit expression of Islamophobia further perpetuates and promotes prejudice towards Muslims and others. An extreme illustration of this is a “blog” discussion concerning the article that was brought to the attention of the Commission which, among many things, called for the mass killing, deportation or conversion of Muslim Canadians.
So Steyn and Maclean’s are thus responsible for a “blog” discussion they had nothing to do with about killing
Muslims? Can I file a complaint with the Canadian Logic Commission?
As ridiculous as the complaint against Steyn and Maclean’s is, it’s performing a valuable service in bringing some much-needed attention to the problem of these commissions. For far too long they’ve been empowered to run rampant. Recent “human rights” cases include:
Earlier this year, former CHRC employee Richard Warman went trolling for an open wi-fi connection in Ottawa so that he could post racist comments under assumed names on an allegedly racist website and then lodge a complaint with the CHRC charging the site owner with, well, being racist. Warman had appeared before the CHRC 12 times before, and wouldn’t you know it, the CHRC ruled in his favor 12 times. Talk about a racket. Except this time there was collateral damage: The name and address of the innocent sucker with the open wi-fi connection was read aloud during the court proceedings and made its way into the newspapers as being the origin of the racist comments. He was not amused.
In 1999, a Christian printer was fined $5,000 for refusing to print a series of pro-pedophilia essays. He spent $40,000 in legal fees trying to defend himself.
In 2005, the Knights of Columbus of Port Coquitlam, B.C., were fined for refusing to rent their hall for a lesbian wedding.
There’s simply no point in naming all of the clergy that have been brought up on charges for preaching against homosexuality. Suffice to say it’s more than a few.
In 2002, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ordered the
In January of this year, Ezra Levant, publisher of Canadian conservative magazine The Western Standard, was brought up on charges for publishing the infamous Danish Muhammad cartoons as a matter of informing his readers what all the fuss was about. Since then another unrelated complaint has been lodged against him — and, as near as I can tell, the entire conservative Canadian blogosphere — by none other than serial crank Richard Warman.
This kind of nonsense on stilts is now the accepted norm in human-rights tribunals. With Steyn and Maclean’s involved, supposedly enlightened liberal Canadians — who needs free speech when we have socialized medicine?! — may not be able to dismiss the victims of the injustice this time around as merely neo-Nazis or those backward Christians. Steyn’s fame precedes him, and Maclean’s is a beloved national institution in
In fact, according to Andrew Coyne of Maclean’s they’re hoping to lose the case in Vancouver this week so they can bring it to a real court of law, and possibly set a precedent that could be the beginning of the end of Canadian “human rights” tribunals. Here’s hoping.
— Mark Hemingway is an NRO staff reporter.