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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant before Parliament

Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn appeared in front of a Parliamentary committee reviewing the Canadian Human Rights Act Section 13. What followed is an interesting debate on both free speech and the application of justice.

Before you watch it, and I encourage you to watch the whole thing, I have to give out two awards.

The first is for worst straw man argument: this is won by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, you can find his submission at part 6 time 3:42-4:09.

The second award is for most douchy comment: this is won by another Liberal MP Brian Murphy, part 2 6:38-7:07. 

(here is Ezra Levant's own analysis)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 7, 2009 | Permalink


I don't know if I can stomach watching all seven clips, but having just heard Ezra's opening remarks I'd say they are the usual self-serving thing I would have expected. His remarks can be summarized simply as this: "Richard Warman is a very bad man. There are other bad people working for the HRC, like Dean Steacy and Sandy Kozak."

Of course, none of that even begins to constitute an argument against section 13 of the CHRA. At best, he has given the committee reasons to think some people should be fired and the procedures under which the CHRC operates need to be examined, but none of that speaks to the grave injustice of the section itself. In fact, Ezra barely mentions that at all.

Clearly, Ezra likes his little personal battles with people like Warman. He enjoys these fights more than he cares about changing an unjust law. As a result, he is happy to spend his 10 minutes trashing personalities in the hope that he might get sued again rather than discuss how the enforcement of section 13, no matter who does it or how it is done, is wrong.

Typical Ezra self-promotion.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-10-07 10:46:51 AM

Quite interesting, until some guy started speaking in a foreign language.

Murphy's interpretation seems to suggest I should be prosecuted for criticizing Clifford Olson.

Posted by: dp | 2009-10-07 11:04:57 AM

Ok, so I decided I could stomach listening to Steyn's opening comments. Here is what he said:

"... 100% conviction rate ..." - It's not true. But even if it were it is not an argument against the legitimacy of section 13, just an argument about the process of enforcement.

"... lifetime speech bans ..." - This is a good argument. He should have said more about it.

"... not crimes, but pre-crimes ..." - I have no idea what he is talking about here.

"... secret trials ..." - Again, it is an argument about process. Anyone on the committee who thinks section 13 is ok is, at best, going to think the rules should change to ban secret trials, but not that section 13 should be eliminated.

"... Magna Carta ... collective rights ... anything desirable as a right ... Michael Ignatieff ..." - Excellent stuff!

"... Richard Warman ..." - We get it. He's a bad man. Not an argument about section 13.

"... Marc Lemire ... unread post at an unread website ..." - What could have been a good point about overzealous prosecution got lost as he started on about "psychologically disturbed employees of the Human Rights Commission". From there it was back to petty personality issues and not the legitimacy in general of speech restrictions.

"... sometimes institutions ... cannot be reformed..." - Calling for the elimination of the CHRC altogether won't help. At best, his argument for "having the relevant powers removed" (supported by his RCMP example) is an argument to reassign the power to enforce section 13 to another body (as happened in the RCMP case), not to get rid of it.

On the whole, he was better than Ezra (Hey! that would be a good name for a band!), but still was not good enough. Were I not already convinced that section 13 needs to go, I don't see how he would have given me good reason to to change my mind.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-10-07 11:12:49 AM

Ok. Last post on this. I just watched Brian Murphy and, just as I saw it, he notes correctly that most of the opening remarks were about process and can be pushed to the side. Thank goodness someone wants to talk about the substance of section 13! So he asks Ezra to do that. He throws him a softball. The door is open for Ezra to make some good points about how limiting hate speech is wrong, regardless of process. And Ezra, to his credit, started to do that, but then before he really got going took a left turn and drove off the cliff of talking about process - why the criminal process is good and the Human Rights process is bad.

No doubt Murphy and anyone else who thinks hate speech restrictions are acceptable would take his comments as supportive of using the criminal code to enforce it, especially after Mark Steyn's comments in the opening that suggested transferring powers from the CHRC (like with the RCMP example he used) as opposed to eliminating them. Steyn's answer to Murphy was better in the second half, but again it seemed possible for a supporter of hate speech laws to see his objection as one to process, not substance given what came before.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-10-07 11:30:53 AM

I never understood Levant's obsession with process. It's not relevant. I understand his obsession with attacking others: I believe it's what's called a personality trait.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-10-07 11:51:48 AM

Process is totally relevant. The system allowed the process to be corrupted, therefore, the system is corrupt. Making a few token changes won't fix it. It has to go.

As far as Ezra's statements, we've all heard them before. Word, for word. That doesn't change the message.

We all know about Steyn's wit, and sarcasm. It's funny stuff. It doesn't change the message, either.

Posted by: dp | 2009-10-07 12:02:47 PM

Process is not relevant to the question of whether section 13 should exist dp. If the process is faulty, then simply change the process and do not abolish section 13.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-10-07 12:27:05 PM

Mr. Levant said on his website that his strategy is to attack the process because he feels that free speech may not have a solid enough support. His strategy is basically to demonize the organization so that politicians see it in their interest to get rid of them. The question of if this strategy will bare fruit is yet to be answered.

Also I think DP is right about the relationship between the system and the corrupt process.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2009-10-07 12:27:22 PM

Ezra and Mark both made salient, crucial points to that committee, but sadly I doubt that most of the MP'S comprehend or began to understand the corrupt methodology functioning of the HRC's.
Good on both Ezra and Mark agreeing to return to testify if needed and also on Ezra for providing sworn evidence from his prior HRC encounter findings.

Perhaps FC and Charles both might better appreciate Ezra Levant's obsession with process if they had walked in Ezra and Mark's HRC PROCESSED shoes.

Comartin is a closed minded arrogant twit and Donsanjh, well he just yapsalot.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2009-10-07 12:32:45 PM


"The question of if this strategy will bare fruit is yet to be answered."

"Bare fruit"? Do you want to know if his strategy can peel a banana? LOL!!! Your 'advanced' knowledge of the English language is showing again.

Of course, you could have written "bear fruit" and been wondering if it can peel a banana. But that's a different story altogether...


Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-10-07 12:41:25 PM


"Mr. Levant said on his website that his strategy is to attack the process because he feels that free speech may not have a solid enough support."

If people don't believe in free speech and feel that it's the process that's the problem, they will simply decide to "fix" the process. But they still won't believe in free speech.

"Also I think DP is right about the relationship between the system and the corrupt process."

I can't fathom how you can argue that the process corrupted the system. The system is corrupt because it violates our rights. The process is simply a means to violate our rights.


"Perhaps FC and Charles both might better appreciate Ezra Levant's obsession with process if they had walked in Ezra and Mark's HRC PROCESSED shoes."

Are you saying it would have been more fair if they had been tried in a court? If I change the process, is it still right? Of course not! The process is not the problem, the problem is Canadians apparently don't believe in freedom of speech.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-10-07 1:45:01 PM

Hugh, dp and Joe are correct. Charles, why do you insist on missing the point of what they are saying, since you pretty much say the same. Or do we just give up freedom of speech because so many do not believe in it? Attempting to "fix" the process will not resolve the basic problem, but doing nothing will result in the situation going from bad to worse.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-10-07 4:18:58 PM

The MPs were not impressed. I like the French dude that called Ezra angry.

Remember, Ezra was the guy that wrote he hoped that Quebec would seperate and thus leave the ROC ready for take over by the young Earth Creationist Stockwell Day. And Steyn has let his Creationist stripes show on numerous occasions. The committee's zeitgeist seemed to be "I'm getting my time wasted by a bunch of freaks from the CPoC base", soon it will end. Even the Tories seemed to be a bit embarrassed.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2009-10-07 5:21:08 PM

Now that successful hate speech defendants have had their nasty say, surely the man whom they continuously referred to - the always successful hate speech complainant - should address the same committee...

Posted by: Maikeru | 2009-10-07 5:24:36 PM

most douchy
Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 7, 2009

I'm surprised that you didn't refer to Levant and Steyn as " deez two jutes before da hearing"

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-10-07 6:51:35 PM

Mark Steyn and Ezra Levent before Parliament
Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn appeared in front of...
Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 7, 2009

Levent or Levant? Are you interning at The Daily Mail by chance?

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-10-07 6:56:19 PM

When your testimony stands up to the questioning of Serge Menard at least you are still in the game. Ask all the gang members he has put behind bars in Quebec.

Ever heard of Brian Mulroney or his former side kick Karl-Heinz?

Posted by: bloc head | 2009-10-07 7:04:45 PM

Ujal really is a twit. He really believes people should be jailed for pre-crime. I would like the defenders to tell me why Canada won't deport real criminals but wants to imprison speech crimes.

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-10-08 12:14:38 AM

I thought that Ezra & Mark did a fine job at the hearing. They exposed a corrupt beuracracy to those that care to listen. As was pointed out, they rightfully repeated/exposed the corruption with the CHRC.

Two thumbs up to Ezra & Mark.

Posted by: Madman | 2009-10-08 12:39:00 AM

...where does Ezra get his ties from?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-10-10 3:13:14 PM

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