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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Alberta HRC dismisses complaint against Ezra Levant

The Alberta Human Rights Commission has dismissed the discrimination complaint filed against Ezra Levant by the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. The complaint was filed because Ezra chose to publish the dreaded Danish cartoons in the print version of the Western Standard magazine, back in early 2006.

Ezra's reaction on his blog is here.

He also has an op-ed in the National Post on the subject which can be found here. The op-ed is entitled, "How I beat the fatwa, and lost my freedom", which pretty much describes his feelings about the resolution of the complaint.

On his blog, Ezra posted the Notice of Dismissal. You can see that here.

The Notice of Dismissal was the work of Pardeep Gundara, a bureaucrat with the AHRC. His conclusion is as follows: "A reasonable person would not consider that the republication of the cartoons in the context in which they were republished, would expose Muslims to the very strong feelings of hatred and contempt."

The context includes the fact that the Western Standard printed letters both for and against the publication of the cartoons after the fact, that the cartoons were published in the context of an article on free expression, and so on.

But if a magazine had republished the cartoons "in isolation"? Yeah, things could have turned out very differently. Qualified, moderate, Canadian-style freedom of expression at work.

UPDATE:

Corrected the quotation from the Notice of Dismissal. I knew blogging in a hurry was a bad idea. Although isn't that a comma splice? :-)

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 6, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

(1) You misquoted the Notice of Dismissal. The actual sentence is grammatically correct, thus the "sic" is an error on your part. (You omitted the word "that" after "consider".)

(2) This dismissal is, once again, an example of an HRC correctly applying the law. In fact, the dismissal of the Maclean's case in Ontario and federally as well as the finding against Stephen Boissoin in Alberta are all examples of the HRAs being interpreted consistently and accurately, pace the noise from the lunatic fringe that this is somehow a strategic decision or the HRC backing down. Wing nuts can howl all they like about the HRCs, but the simplest explanation for their decisions is that they have correctly interpreted and applied the law.

(3) Having said that, let me repeat for any dim bulbs reading this that, of course, to say that they have correctly applied the law is not to say that it is a good law. The speech restrictions in the HRAs and in the Criminal Code are bad law and ought to be repealed. I have said that many times and consistently defended that view. But believing that this is bad law and that supporters of it are wrong to support it is not the same as thinking the HRCs are full of corrupt and incompetent people who only make decisions based on covering their asses or some other psychologizing explanation. In all the cases I have looked at (and I've looked at a lot of them) they seem to get it right most of the time, as they have here. Ezra and others have tried to personally demonize any and all people who have ever worked for an HRC, but time and again these people demonstrate an ability to do the job assigned to them quite well.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-06 7:50:48 PM


Hey FC,

I made a correction to my post. Sorry, I wrote it in a hurry, although in part I was also reacting to (what looks like) a misplaced comma.

As for your other points, I don't think a person should take any pride in enforcing a bad law. Shame would be more appropriate, and if Ezra's actions lead to more public ridicule, and hence more shame, that's not a completely bad thing.

But yes, trying to assign ulterior motives to the HRC system or the people who work in it is probably inappropriate. Good point.

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-06 8:04:54 PM


Gundara's sentence is a long and complex one. To read it correctly one needs to see the whole phrase "the republication of the cartoons in the context in which they were republished" as a single piece, so I think the comma was inserted to show that. But this is an incorrect use of a comma. There should be none.

It is not, however, a comma splice. A comma splice is when two independent clauses are incorrectly joined (thus the term "splice") into a single sentence by a by a comma. Gundara didn't do that.

Perhaps the sentece would have best been written like this: "A reasonable person would not consider that Muslims would be exposed to the very strong feelings of hatred and contempt by the republication of the cartoons in the context in which they were republished." Still long and complicated, but a bit better.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-06 8:27:16 PM


Damn it, Fact Check, I'm a philosopher, not an English professor :-).

But yeah, I thought the comma was misplaced, but used the wrong term to indicate that. Thanks for another correction.

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-06 8:33:50 PM


Pace Logic Chopper --

A) The theory that bureaucrats are self-interested actors who seek to expand their jurisdiction, power, prestige, and budgets is hardly new to Mr. Levant. It has been around for at least 50 years, and some of the originators and developers of the concept have even won Nobel Prizes in economics for their insight.

B) To claim that the HRCs generally get the application of the law right, you need a fairly precisely articulated theory about when state censorship falls within "such reasonable limits [on speech]... as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." It seems obvious to me that the quoted phrase (which comes from section 1 of the Charter) is vague beyond redemption, and offers "no judiciable standard." In other words, the legal limits on state censorship in Canada are entirely subjective, such that HRCs can *only* make decisions on an ad hoc basis.

C) Since HRC bureaucrats naturally seek to expand their jurisdiction, power, prestige, and budgets, they have an incentive to interpret section 1 of the Charter narrowly -- thus increasing the scope for state censorship and making more work for themselves -- subject only to the practical constraints imposed by political and public opinion. This "balancing of interests" more realistically explains recent HRC rulings than Logic Chopper's polyanna view.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-06 8:49:01 PM


HRC's do not belong in a democracy.
When someone from a militant group of soreheads decides to lodge a complaint about a person who is merely exercising his/her right to free speech we know we have a problem. Not only that, the complainant gets heard for free, at our expense while the poor sucker hauled up before this Kangaroo court pays dearly. Even when that person "wins" as in Ezra's case, they lose and we lose.

Ezra now should sue the bums,make 'em pay from their own pockets for such mischief. Assuming they're all employed or we'll be paying that bill too.

Even if a bit of common sense were used and the HRC Commissars didn't have their own agenda bending far Left, they'd still be a waste of our money and a threat to our freedoms.

It boils down to if the minorities feel they're mistreated or they're tender feelings are hurt so readily, they can shift their butts elsewhere where they'll feel more secure.

The Charter is the HRC's and the Supreme Court's
tool to manipulate as they see fit. Thanks again PE Trudeau.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-08-07 8:22:16 AM


Applying to law - now that's a laugh. Seems to me they are ignoring the highest law of the land - the Charter of Rights that guarantees the freedom of speech. These people are not lawyers, just clumsy employees of a clumsy leftist government organization, putting on their whigs and playing law.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-08-07 9:14:24 AM


Faramir,

In FC's defense, the Charter also contains Section 1, which explicitly states that the rights guaranteed therein are not absolute.

I don't like Section 1, but Section 13 (not Alberta's provision, but the part of the federal Human Rights Act most similar to it) has been found constitutional by the Supreme Court on Section 1 grounds, despite the fact that it limits freedom of expression.

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-07 9:25:34 AM


Now that this high profile case is out of their hair, they can continue what they were doing before.....

Posted by: Dylan | 2008-08-07 10:16:51 AM


Terrence (and Faramir)

"Applying to law - now that's a laugh. Seems to me they are ignoring the highest law of the land - the Charter of Rights that guarantees the freedom of speech."

"In FC's defense, the Charter also contains Section 1, which explicitly states that the rights guaranteed therein are not absolute."

All this talk of what the constitution says is a red herring when it comes to the question of whether or not the HRC has applied the law correctly. It is not up to the HRCs to decide if the HRAs are constitutional. That is up to the Supreme Courts. So the HRCs do not (and should not) pay any attention to either Section 1 or Section 2 of the constitution in applying the HRAs, just the HRAs themselves and any guidlines courts have given on interpreting them. If you read the entire Notice of Dismissal you will see the AHRCMA is quoted repeatedly but the constitution is never quoted. As it should be. It is not the job of an HRC to do constitutional scholarship. It is simply to apply the HRA.

Sometimes governments pass laws that are unconstitutional and sometimes these laws are challenged in courts that agree that they are unconstitutional, but that does not mean we want the cop on the street deciding whether or not to arrest someone based on whether or not he happens to agree that a particular law is constitutional. We also do not want a trial judge or a jury to decide cases based on whether they happen to think a law is constitutional. Constitutional questions require constitutional expertise and constitutional authority, which is what the Supreme Courts are for. So the HRCs are doing there job when they presume the law to be constitutional, enforce the law, and then, if they are later given new instructions because the law is changed or struck down by a court, they change how they enforce the law accordingly.

Now, in the recent cases, Stephen Boissoin is clearly a homophobic bigot who was promoting a hateful view of homosexuals. The decision against him was a correct interpretation of the AHRCMA. Maclean's is not a bigoted publication that promotes hatred of Muslims. It has published stories and letters representing a variety of viewpoints, including those of Mark Steyn. So the CHRC was right to dismiss the case. The OHRC was also right to note that they had no jurisdiction given the provisions of the OHRC. And in Alberta, the HRC was correct in its finding that the context of the publication of the cartoons with the story about the issue did not constitute expressing bigotry. The HRCs are 4 for 4 here at doing their job. The constitutional questions of Section 1 and 2 of the Charter are a completely different question for others to decide on other days, assuming that the legislatures do not correct the problem on their own first.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-07 10:57:00 AM


Addendum:

It is also worth pointing out that Shirleen McGovern, the person who interviewed Ezra Levant about the human rights complaint against the Western Standard, was originally assigned to the Boissoin case long before there was any public attention at all to the HRCs. At that time (January 2005) she dismissed the complaint saying that Boissoin and the rest of us "have a right to express their opinions to the editor" of a newspaper. The case was only revived on appeal by the complainant (Darren Lund) and the decision against Boissoin was made by someone else (Lori Andreachuk). Those who have villified McGovern over the last several months as a frothing-at-the-mouth censor should note that there is no basis whatsoever for their ire against her. They also might pause to wonder if their character assessments of others working for the HRCs is also not just a reflection of their rage rather than an accurate assesment of the motives of those making the decisions in the HRCs.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-07 11:13:31 AM


Dylan: "Now that this high profile case is out of their hair, they can continue what they were doing before..."

You know what? I don't think so.

I rather think that they're going to think twice because they know they're being watched, and watched carefully.

I wonder if some enterprising lawyers are looking into putting their pro bono portfolios to work on defending Canadians who are unfairly targeted by the HRCs.

That would be a noble and civic-spirited thing for them to do.

Posted by: batb | 2008-08-07 11:25:28 AM


Fact Check,

You're right that the constitutionality of the law isn't the business of human rights officials qua human rights officials to decide. I was just pointing out that that it's too quick to condemn what they're doing on the grounds that it violates the Charter.

One thing, though: do you think it's ever acceptable to condemn bureaucrats who are just doing their job and applying the law? And don't you think there's something admirable about an official who refuses to apply an unjust law? The case of the Fugitive Slave Act comes to mind.

As I see it, there are several options for a bureaucrat who's called upon to apply an unjust law:

1. He can apply the law.
2. He can flatly refuse to apply the law (and, presumably, get fired.)
3. He can resign his post.
4. He can say he's applying the law, but find clever ways to get around it (as I recall, this was Lysander Spooner's suggestion to judges re: the Fugitive Slave Act.)

Now I'd like to see more HRC officials take options 2-4. Wouldn't you?

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-07 12:28:39 PM


Looks like ole logic chopper is aspiring to an appointment to one of the HRCs.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-07 12:29:36 PM


Terrence,

"do you think it's ever acceptable to condemn bureaucrats who are just doing their job and applying the law?"

You mentioned the Fugitive Slave Act, but the claim of some Nazis that they were just following orders also comes to mind. In both cases surely the right answer is that the refusal to apply the law (whether that takes the form of 2, 3, or 4 on your list). But the fallout of the "Nuremberg Defense" is instructive here. On the one hand, we expect our soldiers to refuse to follow some orders, but on the other we do not want front line soldiers to personally weigh and adjudicate the merits of every order. The difference, however, leans heavily on the side of the expectation that orders will be followed. It is only when the result of following orders will lead to death or serious bodily harm that we criticize "just following orders", and not even always in those cases. (Henry Fleming was no hero for refusing to fight and kill. And even the strongest opponents of the death penalty do not think that cops should refuse to arrest murderers because of the possible sentence they face.)

So in principle, I do agree that there are limits to the credit we can give people for just doing their job, but the limit is a pretty high standard. We simply cannot have cops deciding what laws they want to enforce, prosecuters deciding who to charge, and judges deciding who to convict on a case by case basis based on whether the particular civil servant in question agrees with the law. And as unreasonable as it is to legally punish Stephen Boissoin, his case is nowhere near that threshold either. So a member of an HRC who opposes the existence of anti-hate speech provisions should either uphold such complaints or quit.

Of course, it is worth pointing out that if any of the members of the HRCs that have heard the speech cases really do oppose the existence of anti-hate speech provisions, they have done a good job of hiding it. Chances are they all support the provisions.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-07 1:34:29 PM


FC,

"You mentioned the Fugitive Slave Act, but the claim of some Nazis that they were just following orders also comes to mind."

Well, the Nazis have kind of been done to death in this kind of discussion :-).

"And as unreasonable as it is to legally punish Stephen Boissoin, his case is nowhere near that threshold either."

On the other hand, the penalty HRC officials would have to pay for refusing the enforce the law is not as high as a soldier might have to face, either. So they lose their jobs? They're not going to face a firing squad. Doesn't that push the balance back toward the expectation that they resist the law, if the penalty for doing so is so small?

"Of course, it is worth pointing out that if any of the members of the HRCs that have heard the speech cases really do oppose the existence of anti-hate speech provisions, they have done a good job of hiding it. Chances are they all support the provisions."

Yes; and, like you said, I don't want to impute motives to them, but this sounds like good evidence that they support (perhaps even enthusiastically) the unjust law. That has to be another reason to criticize them, no?

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-07 1:42:51 PM


As usual, Logic Chopper's legal information is not quite accurate.

He asserts, "We also do not want a trial judge or a jury to decide cases based on whether they happen to think a law is constitutional. Constitutional questions require constitutional expertise and constitutional authority, which is what the Supreme Courts are for." Well --

First, juries are only "triers of fact." They are NEVER called upon to interpret the law; only to determine what the facts are in relation to the legal issue in dispute. The judge when instructing the jury before deliberation is supposed to explain the law to the jury, and they are supposed to accept the judge's instructions on the law.

Second, notwithstanding that juries have no jurisdiction to interpret the law, they do have a practical power known as "jury nullification." Since it is illegal in Canada for jury members to say anything about the jury deliberations outside the chamber, they can never be called to account for the verdicts they render. They can therefore deliver a "not guilty" verdict, with impunity, even when the facts are overwhelming in favour of guilt. Juries consistently refused to convict Henry Morgentaler despite the overwhelming evidence that what he did was against the laws then in place.

Third, judges at every level of the system, including Provincial Court judges and trial judges, certainly do have the jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Charter. They are required to. Pretty much the only thing higher courts do is hear appeals from Provincial Court and trial court judges, and constitutional issues are rarely raised for the first time at the appellate level.

The law with respect to the jurisdiction of tribunals to interpret the Charter or apply its remedies is much murkier.

Section 52 of the Charter states that "The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, the the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect."

If the Human Rights Act is inconsistent with the Charter (which is a part of the constitution), it is of no force or effect to the extent of the inconsistency. The question is: Who gets to decide whether there is an inconsistency? Does the HRC tribunal itself get to decide in the first instance, or must it apply the law as written and let a superior court determine the constitutional issue?

This is the question the SCC dealt with in "Cuddy Chicks" (1991). They ruled: "an administrative tribunal which has been conferred the power to interpret law holds a concomitant power to determine whether that law is constitutionally valid." Likewise, in "Douglas/Kwantlen Faculty Association" (1990), the SCC ruled: "The question here is whether an arbitrator in deciding a grievance under a collective agreement may apply the Charter and grant the relief sought for its breach. I have no doubt that he can."

That was not the final word. In "Cooper v. CHRC" (1996), the majority on the SCC ruled that an HR tribunal does not have jurisdiction to interpret the Charter because it was not given the "express or implied" power by statute to determine questions of law. Frankly, that ruling is bizarre. How can a wedge be driven between the kinds of things the Labour Relations tribunals do and what the HR tribunals do? What is a HR tribunal doing when adjudicating a hate-speech complaint other than determining a question of law? If this were purely fact-finding exercise, who is the "trier of law" in the complaint process; and why are HR tribunal decisions so full of case law? These bureaucrats fancy themselves judges in their command of the law, but do not have the authority to interpret law??

Justice McLaughlin pointed out the absurdity in her scathing dissent: "every tribunal charged with the duty of deciding issues of law has the concomitant power to do so. The fact that the question of law concerns the effect of the Charter does not change the matter. The Charter is not some holy grail which only judicial initiates of the superior courts may touch. The Charter belongs to the people. All law and law-makers that touch the people must conform to it..."

Constitutional law guru Peter Hogg concludes: "As the law now stands however, it is clear that an administrative tribunal, if it has the jurisdiction, expressly or impliedly, to consider questions of law, can and must apply the Charter and can make findings as to whether a statute is in force or effect for the purpose of the hearing before it... The answer, in each case, will depend on careful statutory analysis."

The bottom line is that we need more test cases to clarify the current status of HR tribunals and their powers, particularly as HR codes have become more elaborate and intrusive into the lives of private citizens.

As an execise for the reader: compare a HR investigator who refuses to convict a hate-monger under the HR code because a higher law (the Charter) applies, to a soldier who refuses to follow orders because a higher law (the Geneva convention) applies. Maybe obedience to the higher law is appropriate?

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-07 2:22:14 PM


Addendum:

Also, there's more to "getting the answer right" than finding offensive speech offensive under the provisions of the HR Act. There is also the question of "sentencing," or penalties, which are completely discretionary.

I wouldn't be AS upset with the HR bureaucrats if they merely did their merry interviews and issued a finding that, "Well, yes, in fact what Steve said was pretty offensive. Tut, tut, old boy." That would be punishment enough. But when they impose FINES, BAN future speech, and demand an insincere APOLOGY -- how can you justify that?? You can't say that it is mandated by the statute.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-07 2:36:08 PM


P.S.: Ezra claims that the HR Commission assigned 15 bureaucrats to his case, and in 900 days burned through $500,000 in taxpayer money -- just to determine that Albertans are capable of dealing with some cartoons. If that doesn't tell you we have a self-interested bureaucracy creating work for itself, I don't know what would. Even if they "got the right answer" according to the governing statute, there is simply no justification for spending more than the cost of a stamp and a letter saying, "Sorry, but thanks for trying." Focusing on the result is letting these guys off WAY too easily.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-07 2:42:19 PM


Could it be all about who lodged the complaint against Ezra as opposed to the complaint itself?

I defy anyone to deny it was because it was from a Muslim cabal out to make mischief and dummy down one of our basic freedoms.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-08-07 3:04:58 PM


Grant,
1) Ezra claims all sorts of things about how much this thing cost him and the HRC. He offers no evidence in support of eiher of these claims and, frankly, his numbers are simply not credible.
2) While you're correct regarding the jurisdiction of courts determine constitutionality, in this case, the issue is well settled. In Taylor, the SCC found speech provisions in human rights acts to be constitutionally valid, with the proviso that they can limit only the most extreme speech. Whether HRCs and HRTs apply that law correctly is a matter for judicial review, not constitutional challenge.
3) That's Justice MCLACHLIN (as she then was). How you can practice law without figuring out how the highest judicial officer in the land spells her name is beyond me.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-07 10:11:55 PM


Grant,
Truer words are hard to find.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-07 10:32:18 PM


The issue is very simple, freedom of speech is protected by our Charter. However, certain things, such as child pornography and hate speech are not protected, in other words freedom of speech is not unlimited.

The issue then became wether or not what the Western Standard did would fall under the scope of hate speech. In other words would printing photos of Muslims with bombs strapped to their heads incite hatreds towards members of this class?

The answer to me is obvious, of course it would. The reason Levant published these photos was self serving and simply to garner media attention for a financially failing circular. If someone were to publish caracitures of Jewish people I'm sure that Levant and other groups would (rightly) be up in arms, and such a magazine would be shut down in a millisecond. And I agree that it should be.

Hate and bias activity, such as that perpetrated my Levant, are part of a spectrum of intolerance that can range from harassment and hate speech to physical violence and murder. Hate crime and bias motivated activity are acts directed against persons who are members of a group identified by race, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Expressions of hate should have no place in Canadian society. Our commitment to diversity and human rights demands that all Canadians have a right to dignity and respectful treatment regardless of ethnic, racial, religious or other differences.

What Mr. Levant did for media attention was despicable and a trampling of the dignity of all Canadian Muslims. Moreover he tried to justify it under the guise of freedom of exprssion, much like Ernest Zundel tried to justify his anti-semetic and holocaust denying remarks by citing his freedom of expression. I hope that the human rights board caused Levant a few sleepless nights and next time he will think before he decides to incite hatred of minorities as a business strategy.


Posted by: Rob | 2008-08-07 11:18:25 PM


trueclours:

1) Ezra might not be the most credible source in the world; but he is far more credible than you.

2) It is hardly "settled." The SCC's explicit expression of blind faith in "Taylor" that HRCs would not over-step their bounds by over-censoring speech has proven in the intervening years to have been misplaced. That case is ripe for review. That's one reason I said we need more test cases going up the food chain to settle matters.

3) Yes, well, many things are "beyond" you. That's not something to be proud of; it shows your own limitations and narrow-mindedness.


Rob:

How can you get somthing so "simple" so completely wrong?

Child pornography that is completely the fabrication of the imagination, for example, is not illegal. What makes it illegal is the child abuse inherent in creating "real" child porn and the invasion of privacy inherent in distributing it.

As for "hate speech," it is true that the HR statutes cast an extraordinarily wide net. My point is that this necessitates "reading down" the provisions to make them consistent with the Charter. IMO, HRCs should do the reading down themselves, because it is obviously part of their job description to make law in this area. Why force litigants to go through the epicycle of the superior courts just to get the "reading down" done for them? It is inefficient, and inconsistent with the practice of other tribunals.

Your conception of speech issues borders on caricature. Making fun of other people's imaginary friends is not equivalent to inciting violence, and to pretend that these two modes of speech are on the same "spectrum" is the cheapest dishonest trick in the book. (Yes, and all men are guilty of raping women because we have all looked a milisecond too long at one from time to time.)

You obviously do not know Ezra at all if you think he would try to ban caricatures of Jews and such. He is the most consistent free-speecher there can be; he's positively libertarian, and has been at least since his student days. It's a matter of public record.

I see political and religious satire as "democratic therapy," or "mulitcultural therapy." By that I mean: making fun of the peculiar idiocies of everyone else's political and religious faiths toughens the psyche of the body politic, and thus helps to make people fit to live in a democratic, multicultural society. You simply cannot have a democratic, multicultural society in which everyone is walking on eggshells for fear of giving offense. Ezra is just the tonic this hypersensitive country needs to jolt us back into reality.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-08 1:58:32 AM


Mr. Brown, the point in the "Cooper" case was that the federal human rights act did not give the CHRC authority to interpret the law at all, and therefore it could not interpret the Charter. Now, I'm no fan of our Supreme Court, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was dead wrong here, but to demonstrate it so you'd have to show the actual wording of the statute. It certainly is not a matter of any general principle, only of the specific wording.

In any event, both the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Individual Rights Protection Act expressly require that the hate-speech provisions be interpeted so as not to restrict freedom of speech. This has to mean that the speech must be shown to be contrary to criminal law or to the civil law of defamation, after due consideration of all available defenses, before the commission can condemn it; the IRPA itself is not intended to impose any new limits on speech. The problem is that the Commission and the courts have repudiated this express protection.

Posted by: ebt | 2008-08-08 2:18:32 PM


Grant,
Thank you for your kind words. They mean so much, coming as they do from someone who has now failed as a both an academic and as a lawyer and seems well on his way to a similar result as a journalist.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-09 8:49:06 AM


"Ezra claims that the HR Commission assigned 15 bureaucrats to his case, and in 900 days burned through $500,000"

Ezra's claims are bogus. He never backs them up, just throws figures into the air that he appears to have pulled out of his ass.

Only one intake "bureaucrat" was directly involved--a screening officer who found, when he got around to it, that the complaint shouldn't even be heard. For that, he's being excoriated, as though he did something wrong.

The case took far too long to be thrown out. The obvious answer is to hire more staff at the AHRC to deal with a backlog of complaints.

The $500,000 figure is arrant crap. So, by the way, is the companion claim that Ezra spent more than $100,000 defending this case. I call bullshit, quite frankly.

The credulous with axes to grind would believe the sky was red and the earth was hollow if Ezra said so. I'm not credulous. I'd like to see even a scintilla of evidence to back up his fantastic claims. So far, we have only his word for them.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-08-09 9:09:39 AM


Dr. Dawg,
"The $500,000 figure is arrant crap. So, by the way, is the companion claim that Ezra spent more than $100,000 defending this case."

"I'd like to see even a scintilla of evidence to back up his fantastic claims. So far, we have only his word for them."

And we have only your opinion that his claim is bogus. Do you have the evidence to back it up.

Thought not. Why do you think Ezra needs to cough up proof? He doesn't answer to you. Is that an axe I hear grinding?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 9:45:04 AM


h2o, wrote
Why do you think Ezra needs to cough up proof? He doesn't answer to you.

Well, let's see....
A key element of Levant's attack on the human rights process is that it imposes significant costs on both respondents and the public purse, while giving complainants a fre ride. He offers the $100,000 and $500,000 figures as proof of that claim. If he's lying about the former figure and deliberately inflating the latter, then one element of his argument is weakened and his credibility is damaged generally.
Then, of course, there's the fact he's using these figures to generate income, by soliciting donations to defray his supposed costs. If a person sought money from the public to fund his treatment for lung cancer, knowing all the time that he merely had a bad chest cold, we would call that fraud.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-09 11:10:07 AM


In April 2008 Catholic Insight repoerted that they had spent $6,000 in legal fees to that point resulting from the human rights complaint against them. In July 2008 when the case was dismissed they reported that they had incurred $20,000 in legal fees for a number of different legal actions against them, including but not limited to the human rights complaint. Some of that was for other (non-human rights) cases they faced. So a fair estimate would be that the human rights case alone cost them less than $10,000.

The complaint against Catholic Insight took the exact same course as the one against the Western Standard with the exact same result. Ezra's claim that his case cost him $100,000 is not credible. In fact, there is no reason to believe that the result would not have been the same had he not hired any lawyers at all. So even $10,000 was probably overspending by Catholic Insight. But $100,000 is juat a joke.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-09 11:28:58 AM


truewest,

"If he's lying about the ..."

"If a person sought money ..."

You and Dawg should date. That's a lot of suppositions. You got proof? Thought not!

If a lefty ...

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 12:06:28 PM


Seems to me the onus is on the person making the claim. But the obsequious h2o273kk9 thinks other folks have to prove Ezra's outrageous claims.

Not the way it works, old bean. Sorry.

By the way: posting this message cost me $300,000. I hope you're proud of yourself.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-08-09 12:22:16 PM


You try to give a putz like Ezra the benefit of the doubt by saying "If he's lying..." and along comes another putz like h2o to try to use it against you.
As Fact Check points out, Levant's claim to have spent $100,000 is simply not believable. Assuming he's paying his lawyers $400/hr (unlikely, since this is a simple matter in which much of the heavy lifting can be done by juniors billing half that, but hey, let's give him the benefit of the doubt), they would have had to bill 250 hours to reach that number. Yet the only written submissions received by the AHRC was prepared by Levant himself and the lawyer he dragged along his interview (sorry, "interrogation") sat there like a bump while Ezra lit his own hair on fire.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-09 12:28:53 PM


There are plenty of expenses to be taken into account here. Lawyer fees are probably only a fraction of the total expense. In the real world, Mr. Levant could easily include every minute he spent thinking about this case at $200 an hour(he's a lawyer isn't he?). All his travel expenses, lost revenue, personal inconvenience, and character assasination are worth something, right?

If I were his legal advisor, I'd recommend that every time he's questioned about his expenses, he should increase the number by $1000. My advise to do so would also increase the number by $1000.

Anyone who thinks $100,000 is a big expense for 2.5 years worth of fighting these charges is obviously working for wages. It's peanuts. Just remember that Sheila Copps submitted that amount, without receipts, for one years travel expenses.

The fact that Ezra has taken a miserable situation and turned it into a positive new direction for his life is no reason to try and diminish the big pile of shit that got dumped on him. These charges were likely a factor in the demise of the magazine. These monkeys owe him big time. And they owe us big time. They've thrown more straw on a camel with a weak back.

It certainly helps perpetuate the stereotypes. Angry muslims throw stones at Jew who stands up to them. Jew takes stones and builds new house. Good for Ezra.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-09 1:14:51 PM


Dr. Dawg,

"Seems to me the onus is on the person making the claim. But the obsequious h2o273kk9 thinks other folks have to prove Ezra's outrageous claims."

What onus? He's making a claim and so far as I can tell, doesn't care a fig whether you believe him or not? You on the other hand are making a big deal out of it.

It seems to me that the onus is on you to prove he is a liar...old bean.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 1:29:01 PM


truewest,

"You try to give a putz like Ezra the benefit of the doubt by saying "If he's lying..." and along comes another putz like h2o to try to use it against you. "

Ah, yes. The name-calling defense. I guess that means you are winning.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 1:30:38 PM


Fact Check,

"Ezra's claim that his case cost him $100,000 is not credible."

"But $100,000 is juat a joke."

Care to shore up your own credibility with facts or should we just trust your opinion?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 1:39:46 PM


dp,
Nice try, but you're moving the goalposts of Ezra's behalf. Levant claimed to have spent $100,000 in legal fees and has repeated that claim many times, most recently on Wednesday in the National Post.
BTW, you could probably be Levant's legal adviser, since he doesn't seem to have received anything resembling legal advice. Perhaps he needed a lawyer at the hearing to make sure the camera caught his good side.
h2o,
It's not a defence. It's merely an observation. And "putz" is, again, giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-09 1:52:35 PM


h2o273kk9,

"Care to shore up your own credibility with facts or should we just trust your opinion?"

I did. I cited the costs that Catholic Insight incurred for an exactly comperable situation. Their costs were a little more than $6,000. Maybe next time someone files a human rights complaint against him he should hire their lawyers.

Either Ezra is lying when he says his case cost $100,000, he is completely irresponsible with money, or he is counting as "costs" expenses that were purely discretionary and not an imposed burden of the complaint. My bet is that it is partly the first and partly the third explanation.

It's up to you what you believe, h2o273kk9, but you have to be a the most gullible sycophant to take Ezra's word when his numbers defy logic and are so out of line with Catholic Insight's.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-09 1:56:44 PM


FC

"I did."

No, you didn't. Ezra is not the Catholic Insight. He is a sovereign individual who makes his own decisions regarding his destiny. Please provide proof that Ezra did not spend the indicated amount on his own defense.

Truewest,
"It's not a defence. It's merely an observation. And "putz" is, again, giving you the benefit of the doubt."

When you get around to providing evidence that Ezra is wrong or lying, please get back to me.

It's merely an observation but I sense that you have no evidence so you rely on name-calling to obscure your own insecure position.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 2:08:43 PM


h2o273kk9 wants me to prove a negative; dp wants me to believe that Ezra spent every waking moment thinking about or working on a complaint that everyone knew had no legs.

Such good friends Ezra has. And this response to their prevarication cost another $300,000. Time for the two of them to pay up.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-08-09 3:53:30 PM


Dr. Dawg,

"Such good friends Ezra has. And this response to their prevarication cost another $300,000. Time for the two of them to pay up."

I've never met Ezra. Please show me evidence that I am his friend. First, show me evidence of his financial transactions that make you so confident that he did not spend the indicated amount defending himself before the AHRC.

What? You can't? Why are you so sure he didn't then?


Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-09 4:00:48 PM


The basic principle is: "He who asserts must prove." That is especially true when the person making the assertion is also the only person with the evidence to prove it.

It troubles me somewhat that Ezra has not seen fit to provide evidence of his claim that the HR complaint process cost him $100,000. I wonder if he has counted his own time in that figure -- an opportunity cost as opposed to an actual outlay. I wonder if he has included legal fees for the other collateral actions he is involved in -- the 3 defamation suits, the 12 complaints to the Law Society....

Still, I think Logic Chopper's non-factual speculations are also suspect. Ezra's agenda was to turn the tables on the AHRC, to put them on trial. He was preparing to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, if he had to. He was building his case for such a potential appeal. He wasn't going to be casual about laying the foundation; he wanted to build a very precise case to address pressing issues in this area. There is no parity between the kind of defence Ezra was running and that of Catholic Insight, who just wanted it to go away with as little fanfare as possible.

I doubt Catholic Insight even ordered official transcripts of the investigation interviews; but I would be surprised if Ezra did not. Those transcripts are not cheap.

Nor did Catholic Insight try to have these sessions video recorded. I was a bit surprised that Ezra was even able to get permission to record these sessions and post them on the internet; and I wouldn't be too surprised if just negotiating this level of openness cost him $10,000 in legal fees. I can well imagine months of lawyers' correspondence going back and forth, including expert opinions on whether or not these processes should be covered by confidentiality.

For these and other reasons, it is not at all unbelievable that Ezra's defense was many multiples of the cost of Catholic Insight's defense. You can call this being "irresponsible with money," but Ezra's goal was not to slink off and hope the AHRC would let him go at the end. Given his goal of bringing public scrutiny to bear on free speech issues, and of challenging the very foundations of the AHRC's jurisdiction over this kind of complaint, it was not a foolish expenditure.

(Yes, I realize that my speculations are no more based on evidence than Logic Chopper's. But I don't hide my identity behind a pretentious moniker, either. My only objective here is to show that his argument isn't compelling -- that we need to see the lawyer's bills before anyone is in a position to comment very helpfully about the cost of defending against this complaint.)

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-08-10 4:02:23 AM


Nonsense.
Nothing Ezra did supported the notion that he was building a legal case. Not the hissy fit for the camera. Not his submissions to the commission. Nada.

He may have been building a political case against the AHRC or against the human rights process generally, but to attribute costs incurred to that end to his need to mount a defence against the human rights complaint is fundamentally dishonest.
In any case, Levant has repeatedly said that the $100,000 was for legal FEES. Being a lawyer, I assume he understands the difference between fees and disbursements. And that would not stoop to blurring the line so as to persuade strangers to send him money. Because that would be wrong.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-08-10 8:50:39 AM


Every time someone makes another accusation, the cost should go up $1000. Dr Dawg's insinuations may take some time to properly evaluate. The fallout on his blog will have to be researched. Lucky for Mr. Levant that my advice is free.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-10 9:52:39 AM


Grant,

"The basic principle is: "He who asserts must prove." That is especially true when the person making the assertion is also the only person with the evidence to prove it. "

Yes. And Ezra has decided not to prove it. So believe him or don't.

However, others are ASSERTING that he is lying. The onus now falls on them to prove it.

The default position of Ezra not proving his claim is NOT that he is lying. It is that his claim is unverified. Period.

I'm sure you can appreciate the distinction.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-08-10 10:21:16 AM



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