It's safe to say that the past two months have been the worst two months, in terms of PR, that Canada's human rights commissions have ever had. And on Tuesday it's going to get a lot worse.
I spoke with a communications director for a federal cabinet minister today, who told me that the two issues that his boss receives the most mail about these days are Brenda Martin and Keith Martin's private member's motion to reform of the human rights commissions. I found that very encouraging.
What's happening is the rebranding of human rights commissions. Most Canadians hadn't heard of them before, but if ever they did, they probably would like the words: "human", "rights" and "commission" sound safe, even friendly. It's hard to rebrand something with such a pretty name, but it's happening -- now "human rights commission" is becoming shorthand for a politically correct kangaroo court that abuses our freedoms. It's denormalization.
It's like what happened to another beautiful word: "liberal". Look deeply at that word. It comes from the latin word "liber", which means free. It's even part of Alberta's motto, "fortis et liber", which means strong and free -- part of our national anthem. But over the course of the last generation, so many freedoms were trampled in the name of "liberalism" that the word lost its original, beautiful meaning. In Canada, it is simply the name of a corrupt political party; in the U.S., it's nothing more than a political insult. That's too bad, because it was a beautiful word. But it, too, was deracinated. It's a shame that the phrase "human rights" has to be destroyed to also destroy the government agencies that hide behind those words.
But who else will be damaged in the current denormalization? Anyone with a stake in it. Of course, that includes the direct participants in the human rights industry -- people like Pearl Eliadis, and of course Richard Warman. They are at the center of the bull's eye. But those in the next few rings will be hurt, too.
Take a moment, for example, to look at the very last page in the order issued today by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It was copied to the "parties" -- Warman, the complainant, and Marc Lemire, the respondent. But look at everybody else.
The federal Justice Minister has his thumb in the pie, with two lawyers intervening in the matter. So it would not even been accurate to interpret the silence of Rob Nicholson and the Conservatives as neutrality in this whole matter; they are active participants in the CHRC's prosecution of section 13 thought crimes.
The Canadian Jewish Congress also has two men on the file. That's no surprise -- the CJC works hand in glove with the CHRC and Warman himself. It was the CJC that provided the self-serving "affidavit" in Warman's attempt to screen out "inappropriate" foreign websites from Canada, like Communist China and North Korea do. The CJC is in full-time damage control mode these days as its illiberal conduct receives harsh criticism in the national media. They never had much political capital in Stephen Harper's Ottawa, but what little they did have has been burnt up by casting their lot in with the CHRC.
The B'nai Brith has a lawyer on the Lemire file too, to their deep discredit. I had thought that BB had parted ways with its leftist rival, the CJC, and started to pull out of the CHRC cult. My basis for that hope was an article in the B'nai Brith's newspaper (see page 4) exposing Canada's HRCs as illiberal devices being exploited by jihadists. Apparently the BB's lawyer doesn't read their own newspaper. I know that BB's boss, Frank Dimant, is a sensible fellow with conservative values; I just don't understand why he would permit his political capital to be wasted the way the CJC's leadership has squandered theirs.
The final intervener for the prosecution in the Lemire case is the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. I'm not quite sure why a fundraising arm for a Holocaust studies charity is spending resources chasing websites in Canada. I've studied the Holocaust quite a bit myself, and censorship, kangaroo courts and the diminuition of natural rights are some of the tools that the Nazis used in their ascent to power. Too bad the SWC doesn't do some real good on the Internet -- like improving Ken McVay's excellent website. It's top notch in terms of substance, but could use some help in the style department. You'd think a Holocaust studies charity would do that.
I believe that we've reached a tipping point in the political battle against the HRCs. I think it came in the past few weeks -- between Stephane Dion ensuring we won't have an election this year (which will permit the Conservatives to deal with the matter) and Rick Mercer's normalization and popularization of the fight against HRCs, and now Tuesday's pilgrimage by the national press corps to the CHRT hearing in the Lemire case. I don't just think we're going to win -- I think we already are winning.
The HRCs are losing. The only question is how much, and in what ways. It's time for the barnacles attached to that sinking ship to decide whether or not they want to go down too. I don't think any of the aforementioned interveners, other than possibly the B'nai Brith, have the humility to admit their past errors, or even the basic political instinct of survival, to get out now. Too bad.