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Monday, September 15, 2008

Marc Lemire and freedom of expression

Marc Lemire is blogging his Human Rights Commission hearing here, and here. I don't like Lemire, and neither does anyone on the Western Standard masthead. But his case will have repercussions for us, for any of you that blog (including those of you who support the mission of the CHRC, and section 13 in particular), and the CBC too. From today's National Post:

"Anyone who runs an online message board, from the lowliest vanity blogger to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, can be charged under federal human rights law if visitors to their site post hateful comments, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In final submissions this morning at the hate speech hearing of Marc Lemire, operator of the far-right freedomsite.org and a prominent figure in Canada's "white rights" movement, CHRC lawyer Margot Blight said there is no "free pass" for the website owners.

"If a message board owner can't manage to ensure the content of the message board is complying with Canadian law, then the message board should not be operating," she said.

Athanasios Hadjis, who is hearing the case on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, questioned whether this applies even to messages that appear briefly, and without the owners knowledge or consent. He used the example of the CBC, which operates several chat forums for readers to discuss news stories, and asked what would happen if a hateful message somehow got past automatic filters and live editors."

Just consider the chilling effects if the anti-speech advocates win this thing. Will some bloggers choose to turn off their comment sections entirely for fear of having a comment that technically violates Section 13? It doesn't take much for some idiot to post a hateful comment just to get the site operator in trouble.

How is this not an election issue? Go ahead and ask the politicians out on the hustings what they think of the CHRC. Help make it an issue.

Freedom of expression is enshrined as a "fundamental freedom" in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but if that only covers interpretative dance and genteel criticism of Stephane Dion then what good is it? Just how does it count as "fundamental" if it doesn't cover the hard cases? The ones that make us squirm and uncomfortable: Commercial speech, pornography, even downright despicable speech--either we're free to express the things that stir up controversy, or we're not "fundamentally" free in our expression at all.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on September 15, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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>>CHRC lawyer Margot Blight said there is no "free pass" for the website owners.

"If a message board owner can't manage to ensure the content of the message board is complying with Canadian law, then the message board should not be operating," she said.<<

Then how does she explain Richard Warmen(sp?), ex-CHRC employeee who was exposed as one of the most vile, contemptible poster manipulating right and far-right sites? It seems to me that the CHRC broke the law to enforce their twisted version of law.

She is one sick puppy.

Posted by: Shawn | 2008-09-15 11:54:45 AM

It should be a requirement that anyone who complains like this vile Rick Warman character with his Leftarted agenda to shut down free speech should do so on their own dime and on their own time.

Why should tax payers like me pay to see our collective freedoms undone? What an unjust system where someone like Warman is permitted to complain and then not even show up at the hearings and justice is then (dis)served to whoever the Kangaroo Court accuses. Not everyone has either the legal power or the articulation of Levant to defend themselves from these tyrannical commissions and leftist lawyers and their freedom-stifling agendas.

Lemire's views are his own and not widely shared or even liked. However, to break the law in order to shut him up only shows to what depths the CHRC delves. CHRC: doing its best to stifle free speech, lawfully or not!

Call your MP today and make this an election issue. This election is crying for one!

Posted by: Daniel | 2008-09-15 1:17:41 PM

Good question: "How is this not an election issue?" Maybe it's because the "conservative" government is siding with the Canadian Human Rights Commission(CHRC) against FREE SPEECH. SJG
Here is more info:

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)

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 government’s 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….”(Lifesite News February 12, 2008)

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).[1]

Stephen J. Gray
May 2, 2008.

[1] Stephen Harper quote from article by Gerry Nicholls at: The Interim Newspaper

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-09-15 3:38:05 PM

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