The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Jason Kenney defends free speech at anti-racism conference
The federal minister in charge of Canada's multiculturalism file cautioned an anti-racism conference Friday against exploiting the power of human rights commissions to silence offensive speech.
Jason Kenney said...
"I would also hope that we think long and hard about the central role, the foundational role, of such values as freedom of expression in our constitutional framework, and that we do not lightly undermine those constitutional values in our efforts to combat racism or hatred."
Kenney also defended the government’s decision to pull out of the 2009 UN's World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa. The last conference was marked “widespread shows of anti-Semitism.” Kenney described anti-Semitism as a "uniquely pernicious and durable" form of hatred.
These comments were made at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) annual meeting in Calgary. CRRF is a government funded organization that nominated Darren Lund for a CRRF Award of Excellence. In 2006, Lund launched a successful human rights challenge against Alberta pastor Stephen Boisson for remarks criticizing homosexuality.
While Kenney should be applauded for his remarks at this event, he should have used the opportunity to announce that government funding for the CRRF has been severed.
Posted by Matthew Johnston on May 3, 2008 | Permalink
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Oh really, then Why is the " conservative" government "in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech?" SJG
Freedom of Expression and the “Conservative” Government
By Stephen J. Gray
"The Attorney General of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and B'nai Brith Canada will be intervening in the Lemire case in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech." ( Canadian Constitution Foundation Letter of April 28, 2008 to Mrs. Carol Gray)
Freedom of Expression is a right guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet, “The Attorney General of Canada” along with others is an intervenor in the Lemire case. Free speech is either FREE or it isn’t. Are politically correct words like, “reasonable restriction on freedom of speech" weapons used to suppress what people can say? ( We already have laws of libel and defamation so is there any need for “reasonable restrictions?”)
We may not like what people say but in the words of Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In Canada today, we are seeing the death of free speech. Anything you say may be taken down and used against you and reported to unelected, appointed Human Rights Commissars (HRCs). Those dragged before these Stalinist tribunals have to pay for their own lawyers and their own defence. Meanwhile their accusers are given a free ride. Therefore, one has to ask, has freedom in Canada become subject to the approval of certain powerful groups who appear to be able to have their way with governments?
“What a strange place Canada is in 2008,…where fundamentalist Muslims use hate-speech laws drafted by secular Jews,…”
(Ezra Levant, Globe and Mail, January 21, 2008.)
Mr Levant, who is Jewish, went on to say in the Globe and Mail article that the people taking him to the HRCs were, “…using the very precedents set by the Canadian Jewish Congress.”
Which makes one wonder, why would a powerful organization like “the Canadian Jewish Congress” not realize that the very “laws” that they “pressed Canadian governments to introduce” could also be used against Jewish people. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander, as the saying goes.
But, not only Jewish people are being dragged before the HRCs. Before they came for the Jews, the HRCs came for Chris Kempling, Scott Brockie, Knights of Columbus, Stephen Boissoin, Bishop Henry and others. Now Catholic Insight magazine, the Christian Heritage Party and MacLean’s magazine are under the guns of the HRCs. Nobody is safe from these appointed interrogators of totalitarian bent. So what can be done to return freedom of speech and freedom of expression to Canadians?
Governments appointed these HRCs therefore government could disband them. But, will they? Witness, “The Attorney General of Canada” as an intervenor in the Lemire case. The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) in its letter of April 28, 2008, had this to say about its own potential intervenor status in Lemire, “ By intervening in support of the application put forward by Marc Lemire, the CCF would not be endorsing the content of his message , but supporting the rights of all Canadians to say and write whatever they believe, without fear of violating a law such as Section 13,of the Canadian Human Rights Act.” Amen to that!
A Lifesite news article of February 12, 2008, by John-Henry Westen had this to say about the Conservative governments stand on Human Rights Commissions. “Internal Memo Tells Canada's Conservative MPs to be Noncommittal on Human Rights Commissions”
“Specifies that Conservative MPs are not to stand up publicly for freedom of speech for Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant.”
The article stated: ‘An internal memo to Conservative MPs sent last week will be sure to disappoint freedom-loving Canadians. The memo, confirmed by LifeSiteNews.com as legitimate, originated from the office of the Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson. The "talking points" memo directs Conservative MPs to remain noncommittal on support for Liberal MP Keith Martin's motion M-446, which would put an end to the growing and dangerous abuse of human rights commissions….’(see full article at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08021212.html )
These HRCs have become a weapon to suppress and oppress the people of Canada. Yet, a “conservative” government is an intervenor against free speech. Is this why they sent out a memo about being “noncommittal” about, “Liberal MP Keith Martin's motion M-446 which would put an end to the growing and dangerous abuse of human rights commissions….?” Are they political hypocrites who say one thing and do another?
“Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society … It is, in fact, totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff.”  (Stephen Harper)
Stephen J. Gray
May 2, 2008.
[email protected] website: http://www.geocities.com/graysinfo
 Stephen Harper quote from Article by Gerry Nicholls at: http://www.theinterim.com/2008/mar/03harper.html
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-05-03 10:24:10 AM
This info from Lifesite News. SJG
Columnist Says Donate to HRC Legal Defence Funds Instead of Conservative Party "until Prime Minister Harper and company get the message"
In the Ottawa Citizen, David Warren urges Conservative Party supporters to re-direct donations to the legal defence funds of Canadians hauled before Canada's "totalitarian" human rights commissions. Warren says, "This is a battle that absolutely must be won" and "ways must be found to demolish the whole apparatus of the "human rights" industry, which has been infecting the Canadian legal system for decades." Full Story http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=bdf8f09d-06f7-4738-a2f0-f725fe7ad55b
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-05-03 1:40:09 PM
Ezra's comments on the conference:
Posted by: Bocanut | 2008-05-04 9:05:06 AM
Ezra's comments on the conference:
Posted by: Bocanut | 2008-05-04 9:05:12 AM
Human Rights is definitely an industry. It's roots are in the Trudeau Charter without which they'd have no base to spring from.
Prior to that we were governed by the rule of law and it worked just fine until Tinker Trudeau had a brain wave. Equality, Just Society and all that crap. Where's the justice when some are more equal than others?
Posted by: Liz J | 2008-05-04 9:47:14 AM
Mr. Levant is correct in stating that human rights/anti-racism is a very lucrative industry. Yet it is not alone for we have the welfare industry, the poverty industry, the homeless industry, the environmental industry, multicultural industry, save the whatever industry and on and on.
Money is what they have in common. Those benefiting from any of these industries fight to the bitter end to stay attached to the government teat. Plus many of them unfortunately have been granted non taxable status. This is a serious disservice to the real charities.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-05-04 3:16:38 PM
So what you are saying is that these groups represent the epitome of 19th/early 20th century robber baron capitalists in promoting their own brand of corporate welfare and rapacious greed.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-05-04 3:21:56 PM
You won't hear bold talk from anyone in Harper's government. They have been power in Ottawa for over a year ... they are now Liberals. That's what happens when you get to Ottawa.
It's like a Borg assimilation. You will maintain the status quo and hope no one is offended enough to vote you back out of power. Resistance is futile.
The best government we have in Canada is Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, Kate McMillan, Kathy Shaidle and a few others. They are leading the policy debate and shaming the louts in Ottawa to at least talk about what is relevant and possibly prodding some eventual action out of these opportunistic ego-maniacal twits.
Posted by: John V | 2008-05-04 7:54:06 PM
More Info by Ezra Levant on a Challenge to CHRC by Canadian Constitution Foundation. Good on them. SJG
Breakthrough: Anti-racism public interest law firm intervenes against CHRC
By Ezra Levant on May 4, 2008 6:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | Trackback
I'm delighted to learn that my old friends at the Canadian Constitution Foundation have requested intervenor status in Marc Lemire's constitutional challenge to section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Section 13 is the thought crimes provision that has also ensnared Maclean's magazine for publishing excerpts of Mark Steyn's book, America Alone.
My own human rights battle at the Alberta commission is under that province's version of section 13, which happens to be section 3 under the Alberta act. If the federal section 13 is struck down by the courts, the provincial law under which I'm charged (and others, like Rev. Stephen Boission have been convicted), would immediately be of dubious constitutionality, too.
You can see the CCF's application for intervenor status here.
The CCF's mandate isn't just anti-racism -- they have intervened for patients' rights, as well. But their founding case was taking up the cause of a Nisga'a Indian chief, James Robinson, also known by his Nisga'a name, Chief Mountain. More recently, the CCF intervened on behalf of Japanese Canadian fishermen who were being discriminated against on the basis of their race. In other words, the CCF's anti-racism credentials are impeccable.
I suspect that the CCF's intervention will be the first of several. I think it's likely that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, or one of its affiliates, will join the constitutional challenge, too. And the Canadian Association of Journalists has expressed their willingness to intervene in my case and in Maclean's, too. I'm grateful for their offer of help -- but intervening in this direct constitutional challenge could be a way to defeat the legislation itself -- a more productive use of their legal resources than fighting individual cases under the legislation.
By the way, I think that a constitutional challenge to section 13 has a good chance of success. Eighteen years ago, section 13 was tested by the Supreme Court of Canada, and it survived by the barest of margins: four to three -- and one of the dissenting three judges, Beverley McLachlin, is now the Chief Justice. You can read the case here.
If section 13 was ruled constitutional in 1990, why would it fail now? Precisely because the Canadian Human Rights Commission has been unable to control its appetite. In 1990, the SCC let the law live because, said the court:
In sum, the language employed in s. 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act extends only to that expression giving rise to the evil sought to be eradicated and provides a standard of conduct sufficiently precise to prevent the unacceptable chilling of expressive activity. Moreover, as long as the Human Rights Tribunal continues to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pays heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in the phrase "hatred or contempt", there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.
The CHRC's conduct has been more and more censorious since 1990; it has moved squarely into arbitrating what's "offensive", by their own proud admission. Even without the ascension of Justice McLachlin, the retirement of Justice L'Heureux Dube and the death of Justice Wilson, the CHRC's current conduct clearly exceeds the latitude granted by that 1990 judgment.
I'm proud of the CCF's intervention. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the 1990 case -- I'm sure they'll intervene again, now. Add in groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists and maybe even PEN Canada, and you've got a big tent coalition for liberty.
I'd like Canada's HRCs to have their wings clipped by Parliament. But maybe the Supreme Court of Canada will get there first!
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-05-05 9:39:36 AM
ok thank 4 giving me the opportunity to view my point:
i do agree with the motion that racism is alive but do we always blame whites about that?
the are also black people who still practise rasicm against white and other races..
Posted by: daniel mahlaule | 2008-05-15 8:18:59 AM
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