The Canadian Human Rights Commission blinks
See update below.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission, like any petty tyranny, has a strong instinct for survival. As I predicted last week on the Michael Coren Show, that instinct would cause them to drop the complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean's. And so they did.
With an RCMP investigation, a Privacy Commission investigation and a pending Parliamentary investigation, they're already fighting a multi-front P.R. war, and losing badly. Not a day goes by when the CHRC isn't pummelled in the media. Holding a show trial of Maclean's and Steyn, like the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did earlier this month, would be writing their own political death sentence.
So they blinked. Against everything in their DNA, they let Maclean's go. That's the first smart thing they've done; because the sooner they can get the public scrutiny to go away, the sooner they can go about prosecuting their less well-heeled targets, people who can't afford Canada's best lawyers and command the attention and affection of the country's literati.
"There's nothing to see here, people! So turn your TV cameras off, and let us continue on our work without your scrutiny! We promise not to target famous Canadians -- at least not for a little while. We'll keep picking on under-lawyered weaklings. We'll continue to build up our jurisprudence, continue our 100% conviction rate, continue building legal precedents. So when we come for Maclean's next time, we won't have to blink."
Here's Maclean's reply, which is far more polite than I would have been:
...Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media. And we continue to have grave concerns about a system of complaint and adjudication that allows a media outlet to be pursued in multiple jurisdictions on the same complaint, brought by the same complainants, subjecting it to costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the inconvenience. We enthusiastically support those parliamentarians who are calling for legislative review of the commissions with regard to speech issues.
The only question remaining is whether Heather MacNaughton, chief kangaroo of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, will convict Maclean's. The "jurisprudence" is there; Maclean's surely is "guilty" of "likely" "exposing" someone to "hatred or contempt". Everyone's guilty of that; so the only question is who gets charged.
Will MacNaughton save her skin -- and preserve her tax-funded sinecure, like the CHRC is trying to do? Or will she continue her Stalinist approach to speech? Tough call; her decision in the comedy case shows she's as nutty as a Snickers Bar. But I'm still betting she'll acquit Maclean's. She'll throw that big fish back into the sea, so she can continue to haul in lots of smaller ones with political impunity.
UPDATE: Several readers ask if this means that section 13, the thought crimes section, no longer has a 100% conviction rate. No -- it still does. Because that 100% conviction rate is at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The agency that refused to run with the complaint was the Canadian Human Rights Commission. They're the pretend police and prosecutors; the CHRT are the pretend judges. Every single section 13 case the CHRC has brought to the CHRT has resulted in a conviction, and there's no reason to think the Maclean's case would have bucked that trend. The CHRC blinked, and decided not to prosecute. They knew that to do so would have been political suicide. Better to keep going after powerless, and often lawyerless, targets.