Deborah Gyapong: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

The next election will be fought on censorship say Libs

Okay, everyone's back from a two week break and guess what's going to be on the agenda for the Liberals? Bill C-10 and the threat of cutting subsidies for filmmakers who produce material the government deems unacceptable. Oh those censorious Tories! (When of course as Andrew Coyne explained so well, Bill C-10 has nothing to do with censorship.)

Here's what Stephane Dion had to say in a scrum today when questioned why he had moved Denis Corderre to a different critic portfolio and whether it had anything to do with internal attacks on Dion's leadership:

The Hon. Stéphane Dion: Not at all. All this is speculations that have nothing to do with the reality. The reality is the following. The arts is under attack with C-10. Official languages going nowhere and it's my plan, the Dion plan that is in danger to disappear. I'm sending on these files one of my best fighters and I may say to the people of the arts and official languages, with Denis Coderre, you have a strong fighter and we will win.

As you may recall, M. Dion was not exactly forthcoming when it came to supporting freedom of speech, but when it comes to films like Young People F***** and other tax-sponsored crap, he's all for making you and me pay for it, whether we like it or not.

Oh, and more Cadman. Sigh. Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc is making a video presentation on the Cadman "affair" tomorrow.

I'll close with an excerpt from Andrew Coyne's column on the C-10 artistic freedom issue.

Just so we're clear: absolutely no one would be forbidden by Bill C-10 from making any kind of movie they liked — violent, sexual, uneducational, whatever. They just might not be able to get public funding to do it. That's not censorship. It's judgment. The public has every right, through its representatives, to decide how its money is spent. If artists don't want to abide by the rules, no one's forcing them to take the cash. If free speech were really their thing, they'd go after laws that criminalize speech, including the obscenity and hate speech bans. But that kind of censorship they're okay with. It's only when their immortal right to reach into someone else's wallet is imperilled that they mount the barricades.


Here's Denis Corderre in a post Question Period scrum today:

Question: Mr. Coderre, how do you feel about losing Defence?

Denis Coderre: I'm gaining Heritage and I think that you know, it's a privilege of a leader to define what's your, what's your position after a year and a half. Passionately of course, I took care of that issue, but C-10 and all the issue on censorship will be a key issue for the next campaign. And you know that Mr. Dion is very, very sensitive regarding everything arts and culture. It's a major industry and I think that we need to bring back more sensitivity at that level. There's the Quebec question of course, official languages, Radio-Canada, CBC. So I'm going to, I'm going to take care, I'm sure you're going to cut that on your (laughter)...

I wonder if somehow Keith Martin's message on the real censorship of human rights commissions, abusing human rights and fundamental freedoms, is getting garbled into a fight on artistic license at taxpayers' expense?

The state of human rights thinking in Canada

Can be measured by this reaction to Geert Wilder's Fitna by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, now UN Human Rights high commissioner.

She said:

Arbour urged all those who understandably feel profoundly offended by its provocative message to restrict themselves to denouncing its hateful content by peaceful means.

"There is a protective legal framework, and the resolution of the controversy that this film will generate should take place within it," she added.

She also urged lawmakers everywhere to discharge their responsibility under Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"They should offer strong protective measures to all forms of freedom of expression, while at the same time enacting appropriate restrictions, as necessary, to protect the rights of others," Arbour said.

She noted that equally, they should prohibit any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."

I can live with the Criminal Code hate speech laws, but this statement smacks of the kind of "balancing" that the Alberta Human Rights Commissioner did in the Boisson case, where his rights to freedom of religion of and of expression were balanced right out of the equation.

H/t Ghost of a Flea, who guesses that Arbour hasn't watched Fitna. (I confess I haven't watched it either as I don't wish to see a real beheading on film and I don't need convincing these things are happening), via Jay Currie.

What if there were a Canadian Patriotism Commission?

What if there were a Canadian Patriotism Commission that was designed to be an administrative, low-cost way for Canadians to complain about potentially treasonous acts on the part of fellow citizens?

Instead of difficult to prove and prosecute Criminal Code provisions, there would be a Canadian Patriotism Act that would make it illegal to publish or communicate publicly anything that was likely to expose the government to hatred or contempt. Truth would not be a defense, nor would intent. Your accusers would need no proof that your treasonous communication actually resulted in any rupture of peace and good government.

Normal rules of evidence would not apply. You would be presumed guilty until you spent an arm and a leg trying to prove your innocence, but that is unlikely to happen. Your only hope was to be able to raise enough money to get your case appealed in a higher court.

Do you think the Left might wake up if the government created such a commission?

At last week's Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing, Dean Steacy mentioned CSIS among the agencies, including the RCMP and big city police forces, that Commission "investigators" have looked at cooperating with. CSIS?

Is it a big leap from investigations of hate to investigations of treason? Or substitute another t-word---terrorism?

The Left has raised huge outcries concerning government surveillance of cell phone and electronic communications to stop terrorists. Maybe the Right has been too complacent about government intrusions into privacy in the name of security.

Here's a link to a most interesting interview with Lawrence Wright on the New Yorker's website about electronic surveillance, and the new threats to the West given new technology.

It would be nice to see a convergence of all people of good will on finding a proper balance between security concerns and fundamental freedoms. But setting up administrative agencies that have coercive state powers to snoop, entrap and to punish with the blessing of a law that is so open-ended that legitimate political dissent can be attacked as treasonous is not the way to go.

So why then are human rights commissions, with all the weaknesses of my hypothetical patriotism commission, getting such a free pass from the Left?

The most beautiful boy in the world

Sorry I've been AWOL from blogging lately. I was visiting The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, who happens to be my grandson.

Celebrations mark 350th anniversary of Canada's first Catholic bishop

Canadian Christianity picked up one of my Quebec stories. The picture shows Sr. Lucienne Boisvert and Fr. Jacques Gourde in the courtyard of the Vieux Seminaire that Bishop Laval founded.

OTTAWA -- The upcoming 2008 International Eucharistic Congress coincides not only with the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's founding, but also with the 350th anniversary of Canada's first bishop Francois de Laval and the 300th anniversary of his death.

"He built the church with boldness," said Father Jacques Gourde, who, with Sister Lucienne Boisvert, is organizing a series of special events to mark the Jubilee year begun on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception December 8.

Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, Laval established the first cathedral in North America as well as the New World's first Catholic seminary, establishing a community of priests to minister to both French settlers and native peoples.

"He was really involved with the people," said Gourde, noting that Laval was not preoccupied by Rome or the hierarchy back home, because letters between France or Rome would take months. Yet Laval maintained a unity with the global Church. He was animated by a love of the Gospel and the people he served. "He built an original Church for Quebec."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ezra Levant's summary was well worth waiting for

All day yesterday I kept checking Ezra's site, waiting for him to weigh in on Tuesday's Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Well, this morning, I see he had been busy yesterday reading every word written about the proceedings. He then wrote up a summary and analysis that I wish Maclean's or the National Post would publish. Because Ezra's a lawyer, he spotted a number of things that certainly raised my consciousness. What felt squishy and vague and mushy to me, that passive aggression that seemed to reign in the hearing room, Ezra has sliced and diced. The dissection is not pretty.

I want to highlight what Ezra said about rules of evidence, because now that we know that many employees and possibly even the complainant had access to the Jadewarr account but little or no records were kept (or revealed if they were kept) and that other identities have been used as well, how then can anything be proven against hate sites? Especially if these fake identities have the potential to roam around and pick up the signal of some bystander with an unprotected wireless account. Of course if you are guilty before proven innocent, then who cares about a proper chain of evidence. Ezra writes:

No integrity of evidence or other aspects of investigations

Still, a number of questions were put to Steacy. You'll remember him -- he was the CHRC investigator who told the Tribunal that "freedom of speech is an American concept so I don't give it any value". He's also the one who refused to accept a human rights complaint from someone he didn't like, based on gossip about that complainant's siblings. It didn't surprise me at all to learn that Steacy is a former public sector union boss.

Steacy did make a few embarrassing admissions. But the bulk of his answers -- just like the bulk of Warman's answers on cross examination last year -- were "I don't remember" or variants thereof. Some of the things he didn't remember were investigative actions he did mere weeks ago; some of them related to standing policies of the CHRC. No matter; he just brazened it out with forgetfulness.

Stop to think about how important the integrity of investigations is in real courts -- how the chain of custody of evidence is maintained under lock and key; how every test and inspection is documented; the extreme lengths police go to, to avoid giving the accused grounds for objecting to any evidence, including oral evidence like confessions. None of that integrity is present in the CHRC; Steacy, Warman and the others don't even bother keeping notes -- or, if they do, they simply "forgot" to disclose them, like Goldberg forgot to disclose 300 pages until after his court appearance.

It is not reasonable to expect investigators to remember every detail of every conversation -- or, in this case, of every occasion they pretended to be neo-Nazis, and went cruising the Internet. That's why real investigators take copious notes, and that's why courts permit police to refresh their memory with notes taken contemporaneously with the events in question -- and that's why those notes are disclosed to the accused, too. Either the CHRC is lying, and not disclosing their notes, or their investigative integrity is abominable, because it really doesn't matter how shabby a job they do -- they have a 100% conviction rate, and that isn't about to change any time soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mark Steyn oozes into Ottawa

Don't know what it is about Mark Steyn, but it seems when people write about him variations of the word "ooze" pop into mind.

Dr. Dawg writes:

I was one of the first to arrive, followed by John Pacheco of the now-defunct blog SoCon or Bust, and then Mark Steyn, with a two-man entourage. The group of them got into a happy conversation, and like a pot set vigorously aboil, the waiting room was soon splattered by the frolicsome four: "radical secular left," "cultural relativism run amok," "post-modern world," "the mushy middle," etc.

Steyn did not disappoint, by the way. All of my prejudices and preconceptions were borne out. He is an insufferably smug man, his sense of self-importance positively oozing from his frame.

And John Pacheco, who's SoCon or Bust is not defunct, only on a new platform, wrote about first meeting Mark Steyn:

I cordially introduced myself as the blogger for Socon or Bust and he was kind enough to show that he remembered the name. If he did or did not remember it, I don’t know, but Mark is too much of a gentleman and scholar to say he didn’t know my blog from a hill of beans.

We then proceeded to have a wonderful conversation about the whole Human Rights Racket for the next half hour. If you’ve never heard Mark Steyn in person, and you get an opportunity, I highly recommend you go and hear the man speak. He is just as entertaining in real life as he is in print. His humour and keen observations are so natural for him that it is easy to understand why he is such a successful columnist and author. The man just oozes dry wit and soft sarcasm. The fact that he will be the subject of one of these farcical human rights complaints makes Canada look worse than the banana republics that we like to castigate for their “human rights abuses”. The only significant human rights abuse going on right now in this country is the existence of the Human Rights Commissions and their lackeys pimping for and encouraging the attack on the most basic human right which is the right to free speech. It’s a national disgrace that Mark Steyn was covering a CHRT hearing today for Maclean’s. In June, he is going to be the one covered.

As much as I enjoyed Dr. Dawg as perhaps a more civil left-winger, one with whom it seems one can cordially agree to disagree with warmth and good humor, I share John Pacheco's perception. I didn't find Mark Steyn self-important or smug at all. I'm disappointed that Dawg has contributed to WK's smear campaign against Steyn, which is something I would hope he would rise above. Civility in the form of a handshake does not equate with agreement or support. Steyn's defence of freedom of speech even for repugnant speech, does not mean agreement with that speech, only old-fashioned tolerance. I mean, Obama gets a pass on his close association with a racist preacher who thinks AIDs was invented by white people. So, Dawg, give Steyn a break. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The differing reactions to Mark Steyn remind me of a Canadian Association of Journalists' sponsored talk by Conrad Black in the late 1990s, after he had bought Southam and created the National Post. (If my memory serves me correctly). Anyway, the room was packed with journalists and about half the room laughed at Black's wit, recognizing that his big vocabulary words are a form of self-deprecating humor. The other half of the room seethed with rage as if to say, "Who does this blowhard think he is." I guess they were the more literal minded in the group.

John Pacheco has a report AND audio

John writes over at SoCon or Bust:

I arrived at 160 Elgin Street just before 8:30am and proceeded to the 11th floor. As I exited the elevator, I turned right and noticed the glass doors with the “Canadian Human Rights Commission” text glued to them, along with their official looking emblem. (The kangaroo was missing and so was the red star.) I thought I might get a picture of the entrance so I pulled out my cell phone-equipped camera, and was about to quickly snap a picture when the CHRC hall monitor came out of no where and asked me to cease and desist. She looked at me rather sternly and with a cold and hard masculin voice said:

“There are no cameras permitted on this floor.”

“But I have not yet entered the CHRC office yet. I’m just taking one quick picture of your lovely window dressing”, I objected.

“You are not allowed to take pictures anywhere on this floor”, she responded brusquely.

“Holy crap”, I thought to myself, “this is not exactly breaking the stereotype of what these guys are about.” Normally, government is not very efficient in anything it does. It was even a couple of minutes before 8:30am, I think. You’d figure that no star chamber functionary would be out that early, but that was obviously not the case here. Apparently, where protecting Canadians from thought crimes is concerned, government vigilance and work ethic apparently surpass even those of the business world.

Read his whole report and listen to the exchange he has on audio between Douglas Christie and the Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer with the unfortunate name of Margo Blight. Her strategy seemed to be classic passive aggression, slow down, block, run interference. I guess that's what lawyers are trained to do. By the end of the day her face was bright red. But then Christie was, as you can hear, booming and intimidating.

The picture shows Mark Steyn, CFRB/CJAD Radio's Ottawa Bureau Chief Brian Lilley and John Pacheco out front of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal offices at 160 Elgin St.

The Ottawa Citizen was there

The Ottawa Citizen ran a story this morning on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing yesterday.

Don Butler wrote:

At an extraordinary public hearing watched by armed police officers, an investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission yesterday admitted he has regularly misrepresented himself online to gather information about people accused of spreading hatred on the Internet.

Dean Steacy, who was the commission's only hate speech investigator until 2004, told the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that he has used pseudonym e-mail addresses to access neo-Nazi and other far-right websites.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mark Steyn may be wrong

The future may not belong to Islam if this is true.

Ya didn't have to be there

UPDATE: Read the Joel Brean's report on today's hearing here in the National Post.

Even though I have probably followed various Human Rights Commission related developments more closely than most journalists, I am not an expert on the Marc Lemire case, nor do I plan to become one. So not having pored over the transcripts of his case, a lot of what I heard today was soporific procedural process stuff that was connected to previous testimony. I have to hand it to Kady O'Malley who live blogged on this for Maclean's. Off her BlackBerry no less. I'm impressed! For a blow by blow account of today's hearings, start with her reports.

There were lot of Tab 3, and Tab13 referrals to various binders and reading aloud of portions of testimony so Dean Steacy could figure out what they were talking about. It made for a long, slow day.

Athanasios Hadjis, the one-man Tribunal member, kept things on track. He seemed alert, fair and good-humored. I have seen actual judges do worse, so nothing about his performance bothered me except in the beginning of the questioning of Hannya Rizk when he said he was not going to enlarge the scope of the investigation. That meant the kinds of questions the various lawyers could ask her were restricted to those few that she had refused to answer in a previous session because it might have given away precious state secrets on how investigators do their jobs. Hadjis ruling prevented follow up questions that would naturally have followed had she answered the original questions. It seemed at that moment the law became a bunch of process gobbledegook with little resemblance to common sense or justice. But aside from that, he tried to be accommodating of all sides. And the rest of the hearing was much better.

As Mark Steyn wrote today, Richard Warman never showed up. At first people were wondering if the bald-headed Bell Canada witness was Richard Warman.

Dean Steacy looks like Friar Tuck minus the brown habit. He even seems to have a tonsure. He was so low key, he seemed like he was on the verge of dozing off through out most of his testimony.

As Kady reported, there was very little mingling among the various groups. I spent a bit of time talking with the representatives from B'nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Simon Weisenthal Centre. Basically they were all singing from the same song sheet that Human Rights Commissions and Section 13 were good things and should get credit for the fact that hate speech from the right has been pretty well marginalized. The CJC guy also talked about the need to regulate the Internet.

They also liked the good work HRCs have done in areas of discrimination. Maybe some tweaking is in order, perhaps funding "respondents" or finding a way to get rid of nuisance complaints like those against Steyn and Ezra Levant, but that's about it.

I sat in between Mark Steyn and Dr. Dawg. A couple of Ottawa police officers also sat in the room. We had to have one of those metal detecting wands passed over us before we entered and leave our cameras (or cell phones with cameras) with the officer minding the door.

Steacy was asked many questions concerning his internet pseudonym Jadewarr that he used to join Stormfront and Free Dominion. The name comes from Jade Warrior, "a character out of novel I read as a teenager," he said.

He needed the identity, he said, to get onto websites to investigate. Though it was pointed out that these message boards are public, he said it was his understanding there was material you could only get access to if you were a member.

He said he did on occasion interact with Stormfront members. But he didn't remember how many posts.

He had no idea who the mysterious Nelly ****** is, the woman the Bell Canada guy identified with a name and address in downtown Ottawa. Apparently she or someone with access to her account posted under the name Jadewarr and 3:29 a.m. Sorry, missed the date.

Interestingly, he is not the only CHRC employee who has the password to post under Jadewarr.
He said four present CHRC people know the password and thus could be posting under that name.

He also revealed another pseudonym: Odensrevenge, but it was misspelled as oldensrevenge.

Some of the troubling information that came out of his testimony was the degree of cooperation between various big city police departments, the RCMP and even CSIS!!!!! in investigating hate.

In one case, a certain city police force had seized the hard drive of some dude after he was charged criminally---with uttering threats or something. Steacy made an inquiry and the police officer sent him a copy of the guy's hard drive, just like that! This bothered me. A police officer gets a warrant to seize buddy's hard drive based on a specific charge with a judge's consent. But that warrant has to be fairly specific, I would presume, to the complaint at hand. The authorities are not supposed to just do fishing expeditions and maybe discover that buddy's also been cheating on his income taxes or selling fake Viagra. But then, this police officer just hands the hard drive over to the Human Rights Commission, which has much mushier standards of evidence, so a totally new agency can do a fishing expedition without having to go through the hassle of getting a warrant. Shoot, even a dystopic novel manuscript or a review of one might get you in trouble if you have one on your hard drive.

Steacy got questioned quite a bit about the relationship of various police forces to the CHRC. Seems police have been out in force posting hate on various sites too, so that between the police officers and the multi-identity pseudonymous CHRC staffers and complainants posting on various sites you have to wonder how many actual hate mongers (on the right) there are in Canada.

At one point he denied that there was any agreement or cooperation between the RCMP and the CHRC or other police forces on Section 13 hate issues, only on matters of discrimination and sexual harrassment. But when the rest of a heavily blanked out correspondence one of the lawyers had obtained through Access to Information showed that in fact the police and the HRC were cooperating on investigating hate crimes, he kept repeating there was no formal agreement that he was aware of.

Some of the proposed cooperation between the RCMP and the CHRC include establishing direct contacts between RCMP and CHRC officers; sharing of information; improving access to information; giving direct access to CPIC for CHRC officers, among others.

He was asked about whether he had access to CPIC, the police computer information, when he contacted police for information. He said he didn't know where the information came from the police gave him. CPIC can have all kinds of information on it that would disturb those who worry about privacy issues. Like any time you have ever had any contact with the police, never mind whether you have been arrested or charged or convicted of anything. It can contain heresay, what neighbors say about you. Do we want CHRC investigators having access to CPIC?

Another interesting thing came up. Marc Lemire apparently tried to launch complaints against the various police and others who were posting hateful comments on his site. Steacy rejected the complaint because he included too many respondents on a double-sided sheet or some such procedural thing. In other words, he didn't fill out the complaint application properly. (Steacy did acknowledge that under the law even police officers could be vulnerable to hate prosecution for hate posts)

However, someone else, whom he adamantly refused to reveal, either casually phoned or emailed a casual complaint and that was enough for Jadewarr to start snooping over at Free Dominion. This complainant did not need to fill out the single-sided form.

Steacy has said that CHRC investigations are complaint driven, but he signed up on FD's message forum as Jadewarr well before a Marie-Line Gentes launched a complaint against FD for material that was not even on the FD site; there was only a link to it.

Gentes withdrew the complaint last summer, but FD has a record of Jadewarr logging on to their site in January of this year, raising questions about whether they are being monitored. Steacy also said Free Dominion was similar to Stormfront. Well, no, Mr. Steacy it is not. FD is run by two members of the Salvation Army who love Israel and are anything but anti-Semitic. Connie and Mark Fournier allow some rather raucous and crusty people to post on their forum, but there are no White Pride "crosses" or positive links to Ku Klux Klan activities or crap like that over at Free Dominion as there is on Stormfront. It is a conservative site and sometimes a bit freewheeling and immoderate.

Here's an example of some of the testimony and why I was almost ready to doze off myself:

Asked if he posted under name of Jadewarr on Freedomsite (Marc Lemire's site)

Steacy: "I don't recall."

Did Sandy Kozak (sp)?

Steacy: "I don't know."

Did Richard Warman?

"I don't know."

Did Richard Warman know you had signed on to site under pseudonym?

"I don't know."

"Did you talk to him about this complaint?

"I don't recall that I did."

Steacy said his manager John Chamberlain was aware of his use of the Jadewarr identity. He said he was not directed to do so. Chamberlain, Kozak and Steacy's assistant also know the password to this identity. It did not seem like there was a clear system of accountability concerning when and how this identity was used. To me, it seems that having the password available to several people makes it easy for any one of the staffers to have plausible deniability when it comes to accountability for posts.

"What I did as an investigator I did not at any time consult with Mr. Warman." But he said he did not know if someone else might have given Warman the password to Jadewarr.

The whole thing had that same kind of banal, bureaucratic, mushy hard to get a handle on it sense to it that Ezra's "interrogation" would have had if Ezra had not seized control and given the event a narrative shape.

The lawyers were playing to Hadjis and not to the gallery, so they didn't bother to create a narrative for those of us who were new to the case, to punctuate it with much drama.

Some of it was ridiculous. When the lawyers had to read some of the heavily redacted information they had obtained through access to information from the CHRC, It sounded like
Blank wrote to Blank, Hello Blank, I want to inform you about blank and the blank we had blank blank.

To his credit, Hadjis questioned why the material was so blanked out, when most of it was clearly "not privileged."

The other thing that bothered me is that the session was digitally recorded and the CHRC is no longer providing transcripts to the parties, just audio. Imagine having to listen to seven hours of "I don't know" and "I don't recall" and Blank said to blank how about blank blank to find the salient quotes you need. It makes the HRC process all the less transparent for the public, in my humble opinion.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal so far

I can't post much as we have only an hour for lunch and I had to hike up to Parliament Hill.

About 30 people showed up for the hearing. Not the huge phalanx of mainstream news journalists that some had hoped for. blogger John Pacheco was over in the corner with his laptop.
Connie and Mark Fournier of Free Dominion were there, and Dr. Dawg, who is a pleasant, affable chap in person.

Mark Steyn was there of course.

Witnesses included a Bell Canada representative who gave the name of an individual and her address and ISP number but it remains a mystery as to why this person is important, so I will not be publishing her name at this point.

Why this name and ISP is important may be part of an unfolding narrative. We'll see.

The most common answer during today's proceedings has been:

"I don't recall." or "I don't remember" or some variation thereof.

Ezra Levant had some interesting predictions about this hearing that bear rereading.

Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator Dean Stacey, who is blind, came without his assistant. He admitted signing on as a member of Free Dominion a week or two before a formal complaint against the site was filed. That complaint has since been withdrawn. He also admitted to signing on again in early January of this year.

The first witness Hannya Rizk had very little to say. She could not remember much and had not briefed herself on any of the files before testifying. There were also restrictions on exactly what questions she could be asked.

The questioning of Dean Steacy will continue this afternoon. It's already starting so I'd better get back down there.

The picture shows some of the folks at the hearing:

William Reid, Connie and Mark Fournier, Mark Steyn, Brian Lilley from CFRB/CJAD Radio and John Pacheco of

I don't know who the dark-haired woman is in the background right next to Reid, and next to Connie.

Kady O'Malley of Mclean's Magazine is live blogging the hearing here.

On my way to the Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Good morning. I'm on my way to the Human Rights Tribunal hearing.

Not sure how much opportunity there will be to blog today as I will be leaving my computer in the Hot Room on Parliament Hill.

Maybe an update at lunch hour.

Should be interesting, whatever happens.

Ezra Levant has a good update.

And check out Jonathan Kay.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Confusion will reign at tomorrow's CHRC hearing

"Gender" confusion, to start. Because someone is going to go dressed as me! (But maybe really as the Church Lady from SNL) And I was planning to go dressed as Mark Steyn, as are several other people, to confuse the contestants in the WK meet and greet photo contest.

Though it might be easier for me to go as Ezra Levant, since I already have the glasses. Also the height differential won't be so hard to manage. It's been years since I wore platform shoes. Never again. The things one does when young to be "beautiful."

I expect confusion, too, on the identity of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Marc Lemire's on trial but people masquerading as neo-Nazis and white supremacists have been posting hate on his site, and maybe we'll get to see and hear one or more testify under oath tomorrow.

I wonder if the OPP paid a visit to various maximum disruption types on the anti-racist side the way they did to a Free Dominion poster, who tends to be pretty nasty in his invective. (Connie and Mark are far more tolerant than I am on their site.) I wonder if anti-racists will show up dressed in Nazi regalia for the photo op potential.

Hmmm. I wonder if any charges were ever laid in this instance, the last time I saw the anti-racists at work up close in Ottawa.

Does anyone besides me denounce this kind of activity? Why does the Left seem to always get a pass on this kind of thuggery?

As Ezra said about the demonstration in Calgary recently involving white supremacists and anti-racists:

A pox on both of their houses, I say.

And that's the point. I despise them both.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

I confess to some discomfort and some sympathy

Update: Mark Steyn shares my discomfort. He writes:

Deborah Gyapong has two good posts today, as she does most days. The first examines certain aspects of Joe Brean's front-page story in The National Post; the second confesses to "some discomfort" about "the whole cast of characters from the Ernst Zundel case suddenly converging on Ottawa this Tuesday".

I agree with that. Unlike Richard Warman and Dean Steacy, I don't spend my time hanging out on white-supremacist websites, and I get a little queasy at some of the e-mail correspondence I wake up to in the morning. Nonetheless, bad laws usually start out being applied to unsympathetic characters on the fringes of society, and then work their way inwards. That's why it's best to stop them at the outset.

I wish the Mar. 25 Human Rights Tribunal hearing did not involve a white supremacist. I don't like the fact that the presence of mainstream journalists and conservative columnists and bloggers can be and perhaps have already been used as coattails supremacists and Holocaust deniers can try to grasp to gain respectability.

I don't like the fact that the whole cast of characters from the Ernst Zundel case will suddenly converge on Ottawa this Tuesday. Yet Marc Lemire deserves a fair hearing. He deserves to be considered innocent until proven guilty. He deserves a legal system that does not engage in planting evidence or entrapment. He deserves a legal system where the rules are clear and not made up as we go along.

I have some sympathy for the quandary the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith find themselves in. The very apparatus they helped create to protect their community from defamation is now in danger of being co-opted by groups more virulently anti-Jewish (and far more numerous) than the Holocaust deniers and skinheads they hoped to silence.

As someone deeply sympathetic with the Jewish people, I have great concern that anti-Semitism is becoming fashionable again---on the Left, masquerading as anti-Zionism and anti-racism.

History is in the making. The future of Canada is at stake. Upon what do we base our notions of human rights? Do we revive the civil rights tradition grounded in Western Civilization, in Athens, Jerusalem and Rome? Do we revive the Magna Carta and other developments that are based on a notion of human rights as inherent and God-given?

Or do we succumb to materialist notions of human rights that dismiss the idea of human freedom, even the existence of the soul? God forbid we do that.

The problem with trying to silence false ideas and odious speech is that tyrannies will rush in to silence the truth first of all. Note how in most repressive regimes, that's how Internet firewalls are used.

I think it is no coincidence that the Chinese firewall suppressing information about the Tibetan uprising is happening on the eve of the Lemire case.

Can we tolerate some white supremacism in order to make sure our journalists are free to report on real scandal involving government bodies? Can we tolerate criticism of religions so that people are free to proclaim their faith in the public square?

We need a huge, national discussion about this, free from partisanship, employing the best philosophically grounded legal minds we have. Nothing short of a Royal Commission . . .and a government prepared to follow through with its recommendations....will do.

The sleeping giant is awakening

Update: Ezra Levant dissects Joseph Brean's story here.

Finally. The National Post's Joseph Brean has written the first responsible news report on the abuses of freedom of speech by human rights commissions. Nothing in today's Ottawa Citizen, but I would not be surprised to see other Canwest papers pick up Brean's piece in the next day or two, or publish their own stories.

Hmmmmmm. I wonder whether Canadian Press will send Joan Bryden to the Mar. 25 hearing and what angle she will take. Sadly, her guilt -by- association smear of Liberal MP Keith Martin has been one of the only pieces of actual reportage on the issue until today.

Thankfully, many many columnists have repeatedly raised alarms about the abuses of human rights commissions--the fundamental issue facing Canada right now. The Cadman and Mulroney/Schreiber distractions are mere political posturing. The scandal involving human rights commissions is the real enchilada. What's at stake are fundamental freedoms. The outcome could affect any one of the millions of Canadians who use the Internet.

Some salient points from the Brean article:

Critics of section 13.1 argue that its ostensible purpose -- the silencing of a few fringe racists by means less extreme than a criminal prosecution -- presents a dangerous challenge to the constitutional right to free speech. They say allowing for the type of offensive speech it targets is the price we pay for free and open discourse.


It is as if all the cases, legitimate or ridiculous, are to be represented by this one, a most unfrivolous complaint against a prominent distributor of white supremacist propaganda, which threatens to implode not only because of the alleged unconstitutionality of the law, but because of shady investigatory practices.


B'nai Brith's legal counsel David Matas:

"To me, looking at Steyn or Levant is looking at the problem through the wrong end of the telescope, because the problem isn't that Steyn or Levant are being frivolously accused of something, the problem is that there is a wave now of people doing domestically what we have seen internationally, which is to try to use the human rights system to divert it from its true goal," he said.

Despite the failings, he supports the commissions.

"The mere fact that you've got a legal system that allows for a complaint which is maybe wrong doesn't in itself invalidate the system. If somebody tries to hit you with a chair, you don't blame the chair. I don't think the problem is the human rights commission. I think the problem is the willingness of people to abuse human rights commissions and other mechanisms to pursue what is not a human rights agenda. And I think the answer to it is for the mechanisms to defend themselves against this attack, not to self-destroy."

The Brean piece outlines some of the converging issues that will come to a head starting this Tuesday.

1) The constitutionality of subsection Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act and whether it opens just about anyone to human rights complaints because, as Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says in the article, the truth is no defence, nor is one's intent relevant. This subsection and provincial counterparts are alarming enough on their own.

2) The operation of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its most frequent complainant. The key issue in the Mar. 25 hearing is whether an employee and the complainant became members of a white supremacist site and posted hate speech there themselves. Is this a form of entrapment? Planting evidence? Other issues concern whether the HRC operates according to the rule of law and such bedrock principles as "innocent until proven guilty" and standard rules of evidence. The fact that complainants get funded but those accused do not is another issue.

3) The misuse of human rights commissions to advance political causes. Even among those groups like the B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress that don't have a problem with the protections against group defamation they believe subsection 13(1) contains, they do see a problem with the complaints against Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. Recently B'nai Brith ran a piece by anti-terrorism expert John Thompson of the Mackenzie institute on the rising use of "courtroom jihad."

But where were the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith when gay activists were using the human rights commissions to wage a secular jihad against Christian expression in the public square? (Or perhaps more accurately non-gay gay activists who take it upon themselves to file complaints on behalf of gays the way Darren Lund has. Fortunately, mainstream gay rights groups like EGALE support freedom of speech, even Christian speech.)

The fact that Jewish groups have used human rights law, and gay and non-gay gay supporters have followed suit, has rightly given Muslims groups the argument that suddenly clamping down on them when they try to use it is unfair and discriminatory. What's a multicultural society supposed to do?

We stand at a crossroads. Either everyone is going to get shut down and the nanny state will enforce political correctness on everyone and Canada will invite Google and its Silicon Valley North to create a great Internet firewall like China has. Unfortunately, this seems to be the approach that the Canadian Jewish Congress is taking. Or we could see a move to protect even the more odious speech that has hitherto been illegal in society.

Whatever way you look at this, the system is broken. We need a Royal Commission to investigate this from top to bottom. The law needs a thorough examination, so do the practices of human rights commissions.

So does Canada's approach to multiculturalism. Canada needs a revival of her Judeo-Christian roots, because without that, there is no support in a shared belief system for the civil rights we hold dear such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Without that anchoring in a shared narrative, we cannot welcome with generosity the minority religions in our midst.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Denyse O'Leary makes a good point

She writes:

Our understanding of human rights grows out of our historic culture.

A culture in which words have certain meanings derived from ideas and events. Magna Carta. The Bill of Rights. The Constitution.

If we try to interpret human rights apart from that tradition, we get these "hrcs" whose agendas bear no relation to historic rights and can be dominated by the most intense fanatic available.

Anyone who reads this space regularly will know that I am NO friend of anti-Muslims or anyone who promotes hate.

But our government desperately needs to restore the idea of law - and equality before the law - in its pursuit of whatever its employees and freelancers or other aggrieved parties decide is "hate".

J. Mark Bertrand muses about David Mamet's conversion

It's surprising, when you think about it, that one of a writer's fundamental assumptions about human nature could run counter to the view expressed in his work. We tend to assume that whatever a person believes will reveal itself in their creative work -- which may be true, but it's not the whole truth. Sometimes what we believe shapes the work. But sometimes we're more honest in our work than we are in everyday life. Art gets ahead of us, which is a reassuring thing if you're hoping to capture reality but don't trust your own ability to hit upon every nuance.

When I was a kid, very much enamored with Sherlock Holmes, I used to impress my friends with feats of deduction. I claimed I could tell everything about them simply by examining the contents of their rooms. Looking back, I'm amazed at how perceptive I was. Observing a collection of Star Wars action figures, I'd nod sagely.

"I deduce that you like Star Wars."

They stared back wide-eyed. How did he know?

"And that's not all." I'd notice a night light by the bed. "I also deduce you are afraid of the dark!"

The whole post is delightful. Read it all. Then check out the other great posts at this site.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The outrageous response of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has responded to requests from Maclean's Magazine, Mark Steyn and others for access to a crucial Mar. 25 hearing in Ottawa that is going to be held in camera.

The Commission cites security concerns of staff members who will testify. It proposes having members of the public---and members of the media like myself I presume--sitting in some room with a video feed of the proceedings that will pixilate the fearful witnesses the way the media pixilates the Motoons or shoot a blank wall or something.

I am a member of the National Press Gallery. Checks have been run on me to ensure I am not a security threat to anyone, otherwise I could not do my job on Parliament Hill.

Yet the CHRC has the audacity to tell me and every other press gallery member that we cannot attend this proceeding? I hope the Tribunal decides otherwise.

Many of my colleagues have been rather asleep to this whole issue up until now. This is going to wake them up for sure. They better plan on a BIG holding room. Perhaps had the CRHC been smart they would have 1) dismissed the complaints against Maclean's as soon as they arrived on their desk, but they are not smart 2) opened up this hearing as soon as they heard Maclean's wanted to come because then at least they could claim transparency. Then the press corps could remain asleep, thinking the process must be working.

Ezra Levant writes:

Of course I want the hearing to be opened to the public, because I don't believe in secret trials -- especially to hide the antics of some rogue government clerks who think that anonymously trolling racist websites constitutes some sort of crime-fighting in this post-9/11 era. I want the hearing open, because I want the world to see what goes on in the name of "human rights" in Canada these days. Shining sunlight into these star chambers is key to their denormalization.

But, I confess, I would be almost as happy if the tribunal accepted the CHRC's whiny demand, and kept the reporters cooped up in some holding room, barred from even looking at Steacy and Hannya Rizk and the other CHRC witnesses. I can only imagine the simmering anger that would boil in that room. Some of the country's best reporters, who are used to access to the highest Prime Ministers, Presidents, Supreme Courts, titans of business -- and uninhibited access to the lowest of society, from accused murderers to disgraced politicians and industrialists -- being told by some petty, counterfeit court that they are not allowed to watch "justice" be done. Oh, the CHRC doesn't know what "a great deal of anger being expressed" looks like until they do that.

We're winning.

I'd like to see what Rick Mercer's rant will look like if this happens. Maybe Rick will join us in the holding pen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ezra "outs" the human rights commissions

Here's a link to a story I wrote early on about the complaints against Ezra Levant. It has been widely picked up by the Catholic press, but not published electronically until relatively recently by Canadian Christianity.

Borovoy said he finds especially troubling the fact that the law includes material “likely to expose” people to hatred or contempt. He noted the lack of any requirement for intent to foment hatred. The truth or a reasonable belief in truth is not a defense. That means news coverage of world hot spots such as Rwanda, the Middle East and Northern Ireland could be seen as subjecting any of the ethnic or religious groups involved to contempt or hatred under this law, he said.

In his opening statement, Levant argued the “interrogation” went against 800 years of common law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He also described it as “procedurally unfair,” adding:“Unlike real courts, there is no way to apply for a dismissal of nuisance lawsuits,” he said. “Common law rules of evidence don’t apply. Rules of court don’t apply. It is a system that is part Kafka, and part Stalin. Even this interrogation today . . . saw the commission tell me who I could or could not bring with me as my counsel and advisors.”

Levant and others have also argued that even principles like “innocent before proven guilty” do not apply. While the complainants’ costs are covered, the defendant has to pay legal fees in most provinces. Levant told the AHRC that even if he wins he loses thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of wasted time. In his closing argument (also on YouTube) he said he hoped to lose his case so he could appeal to a “real” court.

The Centre for Cultural Renewal’s executive director Iain Benson said the widespread viewing of Levant’s videos will “in effect ‘out’ the kind of things that are implied when we begin to adjudicate for ‘hurt feelings.’”

“That is good for Canada where so many Canadians seem satisfied that all is right with human rights generally and tolerance in particular,” he said. “It is far from all right.”

Why isn't freedom of speech on the CAJ agenda?

Well....I can understand the chill that journalists might feel if they get hauled to court for not revealing their sources. But a much greater chill is the threat that looms over every journalist who covers controversial issues and that's the threat of getting hauled before a human rights commission the way Maclean's Magazine and Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant, and Catholic Insight Magazine have been.

There is also the chill of nuisance defamation lawsuits.

Well....the CAJ is going to give a primer on defamation law and how to avoid lawsuits at its big annual do in Edmonton.

But there is nothing on the program about the biggest threat to journalists and freedom of speech--the rising abuse of hrcs by political activists of various stripes to silence political debate and intellectual freedom.

Are the conference organizers asleep? As Alan Borovoy told me, any journalist writing about hotspots from Rwanda to Northern Ireland to the Middle East could potentially run afoul of the Canadian Human Rights Act's vague language in subsection 13(1) that makes it illegal to publish material that is likely to expose an individual or group to hatred or contempt. Remember, truth is no defence.

The revival that is starting in Quebec

A couple of years ago, when I interviewed Rob Parker of the National House of Prayer, he told me that those with prophetic gifts across Canada have been saying that revival is coming to Canada, that it is going to start in the Catholic Church, and it is going to start in Quebec. (scroll down at the link for an excerpt of the story I wrote).

I asked him then if he knew about Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Archbishop of Quebec, or the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress June 15-22 that will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec, the gateway to the evangelization of the whole continent. At the time, he did not. These good folks at the National House of Prayer have been praying for revival, and praying for politicians. Not only that, they train people in intercession, and bring intercessory teams into Ottawa for that purpose. But I digress.

Last week, I went up to Quebec City to work on some advance stories on the Congress. I have to write them up this week, hence the scanty blogging. The trip felt like a pilgrimage because I prepared by reading up on the first accounts of the Jesuit missionaries, and finding out what I could about Mgr. Francois de Laval, the first bishop of Canada.

What a sense of the Communion of the Saints I had as I read these luminous accounts by men who were on fire for the Gospel and who willingly faced martyrdom---the real kind, not the blow yourself up to kill as many as possible kind. And Laval faced so many obstacles in his missionary work---imagine having to travel when there were no roads, only rivers and scattered settlements and hostile tribes and English troops.

Cardinal Ouellet has said many times that he hopes this Congress will revive an awareness of the Christian roots of the continent. Canada and the United States needs this reawakening. Otherwise we could lose all the rights and freedoms we hold dear, because they are predicated on a Judeo-Christian understanding of our being made in the image of God. If we lose that, and human rights become based on Darwinist materialism, then, we might as well wave them goodbye. We will all have human rights commissions in our futures.

I hope he is right. And not only that, I have a sense that something extremely profound and beautiful is awakening in the Catholic Quebec. I returned from the province refreshed and renewed. If the infusion of faith and joy I have experienced is a foretaste of what attending the Congress in June will be like, then I urge you to go. It is not too late to sign up. Come just for the closing weekend if you can't make it for the whole week.

I got a chance to interview Cardinal Ouellet while I was in Quebec City. His communications director Isabelle Theberge snapped the photo.

Dr. Sanity diagnosis the problem in the West and writes a prescription

She has been on a roll the last couple of days. Read the whole post. It is a good antidote to some of the recent offerings that hold the view that the "war on terror" is largely a police operation against Al Qaeda. In other words, looking at the problem through the wrong end of the microscope. It's similar to the view that Israel is the bully against the poor victim Palestinians, without viewing the larger picture that Israel is surrounded by hostile nations sitting on huge oil wealth, nations that are fighting against her through proxies.

Dr. Sanity writes:

Perle is correct that understanding the larger picture--both in looking retrospectively at the Cold War, as well as right now at the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan for that matter) is absolutely essential. It is in our national interest to be seen by the Arab world as willing to do what is necessary to protect ourselves even when the cost is high; it is in our national interest to take terrorism and terrorist states seriously; it is in our national interest to make sure that we speak softly (i.e. diplomatically) and carry a big stick. The "innefective international institutions on which we once relied" are practically useless--and in many cases worse than useless--in the age of terrorism. These idealistic institutions have been infected with the same disease that was thought to be eradicated once and for all when the Soviet Union and other communist states ignomoniously collapsed under the weight of their own contradictions.

Let us take a moment to examine the political left here and abroad who are wholly committed to these mostly useless institutions and the utopian "internationalism" they promte; and who have, both consciously in some instances and unconsciously in others, worked in parallel to Muslim fanatacism, continually enabling and encouraging its extremism and rewarding its pathological behavior, because it suited their own utopian agenda. Thus has the terrorist/jihadi agenda has escalated and expanded over several decades unrecognized and unopposed and culminating in Al Qaeda's unnoticed declaration of war in the 90's.

This pervasive nihilism is promulgated and promoted by the West's own intellectual elites as postmodernism. But there is nothing modern about it, and in its own way it is as primitive and barbaric a philosophy as that which drives the Islamic extremists.

Today's left is a nothing more than the hallow shell of what was once known as "liberalism"; and it is held together by the empty and meaningless rhetoric of postmodernism, a sort of intellectual nonsense, otherwise known as political correctness and multiculturalism (or, cultural relativity).

Monday, March 17, 2008

The danger of going after contemporary anti-Semites

It's interesting to me that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has so far decided to hold its March 25 hearing in Ottawa behind closed doors out of the security fears of the commission staff and a frequent complainer, who will be cross-examined on that day.

I have no idea how dangerous the small number of white supremacists and neo-Nazis remaining in Canada are. I don't doubt that some members are potentially dangerous. But I do not imagine they are more dangerous than the group that Michael Ross, a former Mossad agent, writes about in the National Post.

He writes:

Within the Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, there is a small department of intelligence analysts who monitor and report on incidents and trends relating to anti-Semitism and violence perpetrated against Jewish communities worldwide. During my 13 years with the Mossad, I was privy to the reports of this department. They invariably concluded that modern anti-Semitism has very little to do with the reawakening of National Socialism, and everything to do with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Western countries -- with occasional collusion from elements of the radical left, not the radical right.
He also points out that the recent complainants against Ezra Levant and Maclean's Magazine for Mark Steyn's America Alone book excerpt had said and published hate speech against Jews that is far worse than the trumped up charges of Islamophobia.

One had claimed previously that Israel treats Palestinians worse than Jews in the Holocaust. Another claimed that all Israelis (read: Jewish Israelis) over the age of 18 are legitimate targets for terrorist groups. If that kind of discourse doesn't expose Jews to hate and contempt, I'm not sure what does exactly. In fact, Levant himself has been subject to a disgusting anti-Semitic internet hate campaign launched by certain elements (we'll call them "youths," in keeping with the euphemism used to describe those who burn cars in France) within Alberta's Muslim community.
Yes....I wonder where those who "protect us from hate" were when a group of youths set up a Facebook group Ezra Levant the POS Jew?

I wonder. If the human rights industry is cowering in fear before the scanty number of neo-Nazi skin heads, no wonder we are not seeing any complaints against fundamentalist Islamists who present a real threat. No one knows better than Canadian Muslims the kind of threat these people pose.

As some complainants in Calgary found out, you could be taking your life in your hands if run afoul of this element.

No, instead many of those who defend the human rights industry are encouraging the complainants against Steyn and Levant by trumpeting their falsified charges of Islamophobia and by deliberately "bearing false witness" through unattributed quotes and ridiculous assertions masquerading under the guise of "paraphrases."

As Mark Steyn wrote recently, this activity is life threatening. Does anybody care? Or is everyone stuck in appeasement mode, like a group of hostages with Stockholm Syndrome, hoping if they are nice and identify with the "nice captors," they won't get shot or blown up?

I am surprised the home-grown spokeschildren for these complaints never learned what a paraphrase is, or the correct use of quotation marks. God forbid they ever become lawyers or journalists. But there may be a future for them in the human rights industry!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Muslim family's house firebombed in Calgary

First there was a home invasion, leaving a woman bruised and cut, now a firebombing of a family's house in the wee hours of the morning while children were asleep inside.

This is very, very serious.

The suspects hurled two Molotov cocktails at the home, one which ignited grass and another which bounced off a window, setting the exterior of the house on fire, said Sampson.

"If he wasn't up, the house would have gone up," Sampson said.

Cops are investigating several other attacks against members of the Muslim community with the help of RCMP, Services Alberta and the National Security investigation section.

Police have not ruled out other attacks may be related to the ongoing dispute among Muslim community members which involves human-rights complaints and allegations of misappropriation of funds.

Najeeb Butt says his wife was attacked during a recent invasion at their northeast home, her hands slashed as she put them up to defend herself.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Does Salman Rushdie know about Canadian human rights commissions?

The Canadian Tulip Festival, a big festival here in Ottawa in May, has invited Salman Rushdie to be one of its keynote speakers:

"Salman Rushdie is so brilliant and we'll have him speak on key issues that are important to him in shaping society, like where is the world going," said Mr. Armour. He plans to finalize the exact nature of the speech with the author this weekend.

It is the first visit to Ottawa by the Indian-British author of such books as Shame and Midnight's Children -- which won the Booker Prize in 1981 and the "Booker of Bookers" in 1993 as the best of all winners in the first 25 years of the prize.

Most famously, he wrote The Satanic Verses, the novel that provoked Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini to declare a fatwa -- a death sentence -- on Mr. Rushdie that stands to this day.

Tulip Festival officials said they're aware that heightened security concerns come with Mr. Rushdie, but they did not discuss details yesterday.

This takes guts. I wonder how long it will be before some self-appointed pressure group, claiming to supremely represent every single member of Canada's diverse Muslim community complains. I also wonder whether Rushdie is aware of the way Canadian Islamists are using human rights commissions to issue their fatwas for them against people like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. If he is aware, and if Tulip festival organizers do not back down against whining from the easily affronted crowd or mounting security concerns, I bet he will talk about them.

I hate to admit this, but the fatwa against Rushdie was not one of those dots I connected until after 9-11. At the time, I remember being disturbed by the fact that the Ayatollah's death sentence could extend into Western civilized countries. It's even more horrible that several people--some translators of the book, for example--have died as a result.

No, like everyone else, I drifted back into my slumber.

MP Keith Martin wants Mar. 25 tribunal hearing opened to public

Liberal MP Keith Martin is troubled by the fact that an upcoming hearing of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Mar. 25 is going to be held in camera.

"I think it speaks to the fact that the tribunals themselves have to be examined, writ large," Martin said in a telephone interview today from Parliament Hill.

On the 25th, commission staff, as well as a frequent complainant, will be cross-examined on whether they have used assumed names to plant hate messages or entrap other posters on websites and message forums under investigation.

Earlier this year, Martin introduced private member's motion M-446 to cut Subsection 13(1)--the thought crimes provision-- of the Canadian Human Rights Act. He recognizes, however, that is only a first step. He thinks all the activities of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) have to be examined, not just the controversial subsection that allows the CHRC to investigate speech that may be likely to expose a person or group to contempt of hatred.

Martin thinks an investigation is necessary "to make sure that they have not wandered far from their original mandate, as I would claim, but that they are serving the public interest and Canadians’ human rights, not the trampling all over them, which I would maintain that they are."

Meanwhile, Martin is hoping to crack open the operations of the CHRC by persuading the parliamentary committee for human rights to do a public examination. He has spoken to one member of the committee so far and that individual thought it was a good idea.

"We can’t let the commission go on as it is now," he said. "The issue is much larger than 13.1," he said, describing his motion as a mere "springboard" to examine the CHRC. He hopes that a thorough examination of the federal commission will prompt provincial legislatures to look at their own legislation and commissions.

"It’s one of those things that operate under the radar screen," he said. "Most Canadians aren’t aware unless of course they are confronted by the wrath of a human rights commission.

The case on March 25 involves Marc Lemire, who is accused of being a white supremacist. That makes his cause unpopular and poses a danger that those who defend him will experience guilt by association. When Canadian Press wrote about Martin's motion, the first line of the story described him as a poster boy for neo-Nazis because some far-right sites applauded the move. Martin, who is an immigrant with a mixed East Indian background, shrugged off the initial smear.

Aside from that story and one with a similar angle on CBC Radio, mainstream journalists have barely covered the human rights complaints involving Maclean's Magazine for running an excerpt of Mark Steyn's book America Alone and Ezra Levant for republishing the Mohammed cartoons. However, columnists and editorial boards across the country and in both national newspapers, as well as talk radio hosts, have been almost uniformly outraged by HRC abuses, especially in their overreaching in the Maclean's and Levant cases.

Martin sees some important rights at stake in the Lemire case as well.

"Somebody may have allegly committed an odious act, but people are still innocent until proven guilty until proven guilty in a court of law," he said. "If we don’t protect everybody’s rights to due process then nobody’s protected."

Catholic MPs react to Archbishop Prendergast's stand on Communion

The Ottawa Citizen story is here.

Here is Archbishop Terrence Prendergast's interview with CFRA where he explains his reasons why those politicians who persist in promoting pro-abortion views are not in communion with the Catholic Church.

Naomi Lakritz at the Calgary Herald wrote a great editorial March 12 in the Archbishop's defence:

This necessary absolutism grates on the sensitivities, of course, because religion, like everything else in this post-millennium era, is supposed to come easy, with no moral strings attached, no value-ridden fuss, no muss. And it's hardest of all on politicians who have learned that to survive, you have to maintain a fine balance of bafflegab so you can glide as effortlessly as an eel through the murky waters of public policy.

Liberal MP David McGuinty, who is Catholic, claims his pro-choice position arises from a reconciliation of his "public duties and responsibilities . . . I, like many politicians, keep those things separate. I don't just represent Roman Catholics. I don't just represent people of any faith."

Now there's a cop-out position if ever I heard one. Since the federal government is far too timorous to revisit the issue of this country's non-existent abortion laws, it is not necessary for McGuinty to adapt his personal views to those of his constituents. Furthermore, as abortion has not been a campaign issue since long before McGuinty was first elected in 2004, it is highly unlikely that he even knows where the majority sentiment lies among his constituents in his riding of Ottawa South.

Read the whole thing! And listen to the CFRA interview. The picture shows Archbishop Prendergast at the recent Theology on Tap in Ottawa where he first answered a question concerning whether he would deny pro-abortion Catholic politicians communion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If tweaking were enough, here's one small start

Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress admitted on Cross Country Checkup last Sunday that human rights commissions and human rights law needed some tweaking and correcting so that cases like Ezra Levant's and Mark Steyn's did not put them into such bad repute that Canadians threw the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't think tweaking is enough. But here's one major tweak that would have an immediate positive impact: No more complaints from people who are making complaints on behalf of gays, Muslims, Jews or blacks or any other group to which they do not belong.

It would cut the case load considerably.

Why is it that liberals--ungay, white bread as you please, United Churchy do-gooders find it so easy to get so offended on behalf of assorted victim groups? Isn't it a form of appropriation of voice or something racist like that?

Archbishop Prendergast defends the sanctity of human life

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast explains at length why he might refuse a pro-abortion Catholic politician communion on CFRA Radio.

What a refreshing breath of fresh air he is, standing up for Catholic teaching, knowledgeably, aware of the political context.

Great stuff. Listen to it.

Quite a contrast to this article which gave equal time to Catholics for a Free Choice, a marginal organization of aging Baby Boomers.

A link to the article I wrote on the subject and my reaction to the Ottawa Citizen story here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The open-endedness of the danger to freedom of speech

I remember back in the early 1990s, discussions with some CBC colleagues or guests for programs I was booking, talking about how words like "equality of opportunity" or "free markets" were code words for racism.

In other words, anyone who did not support outright such things as affirmative action was by definition racist. Equality of opportunity did not take into consideration historic discrimination and deprivation, so only equality of outcome would do.

This is one of the problems with the galloping scope of human rights commissions and hate speech. Now one not only has to consider whether one has incited violence against a particular group or called for their extermination the way Hitler called for the extermination of the Jews, but also whether one has inadvertently inserted some so-called code words into one's public writings or speech that will brand you as a hater.

For Christophobes, merely saying one believes marriage is between a man and a woman is code for hatred against gays and lesbians, when it is not.

But it's going beyond code words into fabrications, prevarications, and false witness.

In the case of Mark Steyn, for example, critics such as Elmo's spokeschildren, Johann I-shag-Islamists Hari make up vile writings, attribute them to Steyn and accuse him of hatred he has never spewed. It's as if they think they spot code words, so they supply what they assume is the interpretation. This is slanderous and disgusting.

It can really get ridiculous, as the latest machinations about the so-called underlying racism of Hillary Clinton's anti Obama ads, showing sleeping children and a red phone ringing at 3:00 a.m.

It reminds me of that guy who saw subliminal sexual imagery in pictures of ice cubes and plates of Howard Johnson's fried clams.

What is so weird to me is that, just as in Hitler's day, no one took him literally until millions had died, few seem to be taking the literal hatred spewing from the mouth of the Iranian president or Hamas or Hezbollah or their agents in the United States seriously. Yet we have all kinds of faked hate crimes and planted evidence and "code words" getting people all upset.


My battery is dying and I'm on the train, so I'll supply the links later. Bye

Blogging from the train station

I am in the Ottawa train station, waiting to embark on a trip to Quebec City, where I will work on several stories in advance of the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress that will take place Jun 15-22.

I feel like I am on a pilgrimage. The Congress coincides with the 400th year of the founding of Quebec, where the first missionaries entered North America and began spreading the Gospel as they traveled down the riverways and lived among the aboriginal people. So I have been reading up on some Quebec history. This year is also the 300th anniversary of the death of Francois de Laval, who was the first Catholic bishop of Quebec.

Over the weekend, I was reading some of the Jesuit Relations, the first hand accounts of what these Black Robes were thinking and experiencing as they arrived in the New World and encountered the various native peoples.

These writings are by no means politically correct. They paint a picture that is far from the air-brushed romantic images of the noble Indian whose religion and practice maintained a perfect balance with Mother Earth. Yet at the same time, these writings are infused with love--of Christ and of the peoples they came to serve. The hardships they endured are amazing. The lives of the warring native tribes were also harsh, frought with danger from attacks. They frequently faced starvation.

The "relations" seem to give honest accounts that show that human nature is human nature, whatever the race or culture. But they also show there is something especially enobling about the Christian faith when it is lived to the full.

No wonder some of these men---who were martyred--have been declared saints.

So, as I travel, I feel a sense of communion with them, the communion of the saints, and I ask for their intercession for Canada and for the Congress.

Thank God they were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wish I could have been there

For those of us who wished we could have attended Kathy Shaidle's talk in Toronto, Eye Weekly does some interesting and fair, it seems, coverage.

(H/t Girl on the Right)

“I’ve been libeled frequently, and I’ve never sued anyone, let alone called the cops," Shaidle says. "On principle, if I want to be free to say what I want, I have to extend that right to others. It’s like that classic headline in The Onion: "Fun Toy Banned Because of Three Stupid Dead Kids." In a world of frivolous lawsuits and ‘hurt feelings,’ some of us have to man up, or we’ll lose everything.”

For that reason, Shaidle encourages visits to, where even the most passive supporter can rally against the human rights commissions: “I hope you do something. And, if you don’t, at least send us money.”

The article is strangely dismissive of the right wing blogosphere. I guess this author has no idea of the role blogs played in Rathergate and in Swiftboating John Kerry's Vietnam War claims, to mention a few.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More evidence of planted hate

This time in the United States on Little Green Footballs. (H/t FreeMarkSteyn).

Yesterday I asked Abdur-Rahman M to send me the IP address of the person who was dishonestly posting antisemitic comments at his site using my name, and he emailed it to me today, for which I’m grateful.

Lo and behold, the same person has two accounts at LGF, one of them already blocked, and the other registered and confirmed but so far unused; presumably holding it in reserve for some kind of future sneak attack. The second account is now blocked as well, of course.

And the pathetic creep has visited LGF 6 times already today. (That’s why we call them “stalkers.”) The referring page for one of its visits is here, and you’ll never see an uglier den of antisemitism and hatred: Anti-Neocons :: View topic - 49 Palestinians killed in Gaza today.

UPDATE at 3/9/08 6:29:18 pm:

Checking back through our archives, I made an interesting discovery. This stalker was using one of its accounts to post really extreme anti-Palestinian comments at LGF. Comments like this one (now deleted):

When you put your life on the line to protect worthless scum like terrorist scum like all Palestinians are, you get what you deserve. I don’t want to hear any of the PC police come here and say that not all Palestinians are terrorists, yes they are ! Those people are the absolute scum of the earth. It’s like they have some genetic mutation in all of them. We need a final solution to the “Palestinian question ”, if you know what I mean.

That comment was deleted within a few minutes of being posted, of course. “Final solution,” indeed.

But the important thing to note here is: this creep was what we call a “moby,” calculatedly posting over the top comments to discredit LGF. In truth, as you can see by following the link to the “Anti-Neocons” site above, this stalker is rabidly pro-Palestinian—but it was posting rabidly anti-Palestinian comments at LGF. This is solid proof that at least some of the comments at LGF are being planted with deliberate intent to deceive and defraud.

It is interesting to me that the Canadian Islamic Congress' spokechild yesterday on Cross Country Checkup spoke of blogs that are urging the deportation and extermination of Muslims, influenced by the writings of Mark Steyn. If such blogs exist I denounce them. But maybe they only exist in her mind, given the way the contents of Steyn's book excerpt have been misquoted, missrepresented and miscontrued. Mark Steyn's book DOES NOTHING OF THE KIND and good for Rex Murphy in doing his homework and challenging her on the spot.

But now it would seem that any posts in the comments sections that say such things are suspect.

We need a Royal Commission with powers to subpoena people and records to get to the bottom of all this.

Darren Lund sounds off in the Glop

Update at FiveFeetofFury:

Not content with tying his blankie around his neck, jumping off the couch and pretending to fly...

a grown up Darren Lund leaps to the rescue of gay men everywhere, unasked. Also he's straight.

But he has such deep feelings for "teh gays" he had to bravely appoint himself their martyr/protector from the evil "conservative Christians". At other folks' expense of course. "Welcome to Sherwood" (big boy!)

Of course, Lund would never include himself in his notion of "dangerous people out there." Do-gooders never do.

Now back to my post, which is a lot less funny.

The Glop and Mail posts an op ed by Darren Lund, who was the complainant against Alberta Pastor Stephen Boisson.

Of course, he paints the letter according to his interpretation, that it was in effect a call to violence against gays and lesbians, when the letter specifically referred to gay activists, not gays in general.

And, the letter did not call for the gay activists to be harmed either.

The evidence that the letter had anything to do with the beating of a gay youth is circumstantial at best. The victim, according to Lund, felt less safe after reading the letter, but is there any evidence the person or persons who beat him had read it?

I agree with Lund that "gay" is a schoolyard taunt. But it's not originating from kids who go to Sunday school. It starts among school kids before most of them are of an age to even know what it means. At least I hope at that in elementary school kids are not even aware of certain sexual practices that I didn't know about until well into my teenaged years and later. I am sure most good Christian parents are teaching their children not to use epithets or bullying of any kind against anyone.

Lund's op ed reminds me of a conversation I had with a gay activist in the proverbial "green room" years ago, after I'd booked him to appear on a CBC program for a debate.

This man told me the Bible, or parts of it anyway, should be banned as hate literature because of its stand against homosexual behavior.

He said that while he supported freedom of speech, he thought the Bible was directly responsible for the higher rates of suicide amongst gay youths. Therefore, because of the harm its moral stand produced, society had an interest in banning it or at least excising those parts that were responsible for the harm.

I personally do not like Pastor Boisson's letter. I think it was intemperate and over-the-top.
But I do not think it advocated hatred or violence. It attacked gay activism, not gays and lesbians as a group. He did it in a ham-fisted way. But he should have faced censure, not censorship.

In a way, attacking a kind of gay activism that seeks to silence Christians and impose its sexual dogmas on all of society (making it virtually illegal to say heterosexual sex within marriage is morally superior to homosexual sex and preventing parents from opting their kids out of such morally relativistic sex education sessions), has some similarities to criticisms of Islamic extremists who aim to impose Sharia on the West. Those criticisms are being misinterpreted as a general attack on all Muslims, when that is far from the case. Attacks on the tactics and aims of some gay activists are not the same thing as a general attack on gays and lesbians--the vast majority of whom just want to live and let live.

And while a small minority of Christian Constantinians or theocrats might want to see gays and lesbians stuffed back into "the closet," I repudiate that view. My Canada includes space for "out" gays and lesbians as well as for "out" Christians, who are now in danger of being stuffed into a new closet.

It is interesting that EGALE did NOT support the complaint against Boisson. The EGALE folks I have run into on the Hill are the epitome of civility and I have great respect for the likes of Laurie Aaron, even though we disagree. People like him are fighting for their rights but not trying to trample on the rights of others.

REAL Women of Canada's Gwen Landolt writes:

Significantly, according to the homosexual newspaper, Xtra West (December 6, 2007), the complaint against Pastor Boissoin was opposed by the homosexual lobby group, EGALE, which issued a press release on the case stating “that debate was the best method for dealing with homophobia (sic)” and that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

Also, Pink Triangle Press (PTP) which publishes the homosexual newspaper, Xtra West, opposed the complaint in its editorials and opinion pieces.

Ken Popert, executive director of PTP stated:

People may or may not be safer as a result of the ruling, but they certainly will be less free to speak their minds. By supporting this complaint we’d be creating grounds on which someone could take action against us for speaking out against ‘homophobes.’

If gay people are allowed to invoke safety when it comes to homophobes then homophobes will be allowed to invoke safety when it comes to us.

Well....not yet. But if Christians can effectively make the case that we are a vulnerable minority (and believing Christians are) then human rights commissions will have to start taking our complaints seriously. They don't now because Christianity, due to the high number of nominal Christians, is seen as the oppressive majority and therefore not protected.

And in a multicultural universe, Christianity and the Western Civilization of so-called dead white men, is the only culture that is seen as uniquely evil. But....gee, watch how fast the multiculturalists would start defending freedom of speech if HRCs started to clamp down on anti-Christian defamation and hate speech. My oh my, could you see the outcry in the arts community?

Another disappointing spectacle is the applause Lund received from a fellow Albertan at the University of Chicago' Martin Marty Center's site.

A satisfied Lund says the ruling sends a clear message: "It confirms we all have rights to free speech in Alberta , but there are also responsibilities that come with these privileges if we want to keep this a safe place for everyone. It reminds us that people in positions of authority have a special responsibility to protect the dignity of especially vulnerable people." For his part, Chandler was quoted as saying: "(The Conservative brass) told me my faith in Jesus Christ would interfere with how I could be a good member of the legislative assembly. Is that fair?"

The Chandler-Boisson episode suggests that Alberta 's human rights standards are evolving for the better. But Chandler 's assertion that his religious rights are being curtailed illustrates how variously "for the better" can be understood, and suggests that such evolution cannot be taken for granted, as there will always be those who challenge it. Thus, freedoms require vigilance if our province is to mature as a safe place for everyone.

Interestingly, Lund is described as a Lutheran and the author of the above doctrine of "evolving human rights standards" is from the United Church. Well, some in these churches are evolving away from such doctrines as the Resurrection, and of Jesus as the one and only Son of God, through whom we are saved.

Sad. Some words pop into my mind. Some scriptural verses. But it is Lent so I will refrain.

It is sad to see how liberal Protestantism has embraced the illiberal multicultural ethos of moral relativism. No wonder their churches are emptying.

Years ago, I got accepted to a PhD program at the University of Chicago in a fledging feminist studies program. Thank God I decided not to go. I remember going to visit the University for a weekend, and met with my then hero Mircea Eliade, since even then my real interest was religion. He was pretty awesome, but thankfully, I have let the scales fall from my eyes and shed the crazy feminism of my youth.