Ottawa Citizen | 03May2008 | David Warren

Standing up to the 'human rights' harassers

In my five weeks of absence from this space, I was saddened to learn that the assault on free speech and press in Canada has been escalated. In addition to the very ugly cases that have been brought before various so-called "human rights commissions," to silence such "politically incorrect" Canadian writers as Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, frivolous lawsuits have now been brought against several prominent journalists and bloggers for their efforts in exposing how the human rights commissions work, and for their audacity in mocking ludicrous behaviour by members of the HRC's "Anti-Hate Teams."

Barbara Hall, the leftist former mayor of Toronto, who now presides over the Ontario Human Rights Commission, publicly pronounced Maclean's magazine guilty of spreading anti-Islamic hatred (by publishing Mr. Steyn), while declining to review the complaint which the radical Canadian Islamic Congress brought against the magazine. (The case had already been accepted by the federal and B.C. "human rights" commissions.) That CIC has meanwhile graduated to shakedown tactics, calling a press conference Wednesday to announce the settlement terms on which it might cease to harass Maclean's with "human rights" complaints.

Updates, and links to sources, for these and numerous other developing cases, may be had through the blogs. I especially recommend that of Ezra Levant, a lawyer by training, and a magnificent aggregator and explicator of the details and arguments involved in each case. I would also put him at the top of any current list of those who actually deserve the Order of Canada, for valiant action of permanent value to our country.

Mark Steyn's blog, and Kate McMillan's "Small Dead Animals" in Saskatchewan, also belong on the shortlist of essential sources for information, and my reader may follow their links to more. The whole issue is proving too complex for conventional media reporting, although the National Post in particular has done an impressive job of trying to keep up with it.

I have been referring only to headline cases -- those of which the better-informed general public will be aware, already. But many others are currently defending themselves against Kafkaesque prosecutions that require them to raise far more money for lawyers and other legal expenses than they could ever afford, against plaintiffs whose costs are paid by the taxpayer.

The notion that "freedom of speech is an American concept" -- I am quoting Dean Steacy, principal "mediator" (i.e. thought-crime investigator) for the Canadian Human Rights Commission -- is proving sadly true in the limited sense that most of the money donated to the various legal defence funds has come, via Internet, from outraged citizens of the U.S.

Our Conservative government's cowardly failure to intervene in defence of free press and speech by, for example, immediately withdrawing the egregious Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Code, gives another indication of Canadian sleepiness. (This is the section which empowers the "human rights" commissions to go trawling for political incorrectitude on the Internet.)

In light of which, perhaps the most effective way to support our own beleaguered journalists is for people who have given money to the Conservative party in the past, to make all future donations to the legal defence funds instead, until Prime Minister Harper and company get the message. Don't forget to send the Conservative party a note explaining what you have done, and why.

The basic strategy of the enemies of freedom in Canada has been to tie freedom's defenders up in courts -- kangaroo courts by preference. They may or may not have erred, tactically, in creating the headline cases I have mentioned above, which have helped rally many against them who are not among the usual friends of Messieurs Steyn and Levant. It is a high-risk enterprise for the HRCs, but the rewards if they succeed are substantial: for they will have eliminated the very possibility of dissent against the various fanatic leftist, feminist, gay activist, and Islamist agendas with which they openly ally themselves.

This is a battle that absolutely must be won, if Canada is to remain a free country. But it is only one battle in the long war that will be necessary to roll back the front line against the ideologues. Getting rid of Section 13 is a crucial short-term objective. But we must follow it up by finding ways to demolish the whole apparatus of the "human rights" industry, which has been infecting the Canadian legal system for decades.

It will be a task not of an hour, but of several generations, to reclaim our country.

David Warren's column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday.