Rev. Stephen Boissoin's conviction overturned
Late last week, the Court of Queen's Bench overturned the Alberta Human Rights Commission's "hate speech" conviction of Rev. Stephen Boissoin.
Long-time readers of this blog, and readers of my book, will know the case of Rev. Boissoin well. He was a youth pastor who wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 that was critical of the "gay agenda". You can read that letter in full here. He was sentenced to a lifetime speech ban, barring him from ever saying anything negative about gays again, in public or private, for the rest of his life. Oh -- and he had to write a false letter of apology, renouncing his faith on the matter.
So here we are, more than seven years later, and Rev. Boissoin has finally been acquitted. And that's if his tormentor, the anti-Christian bigot Darren Lund, doesn't choose to appeal this new ruling.
So lesson number one here is that the process is the punishment.
Rev. Boissoin had seven years of his life wasted -- seven years in which he bore the stigma of being called, by the state, an illegal "hater". And Rev. Boissoin had to bear the enormous legal costs -- first, of his kangaroo court trial, then of his appeal -- on his own. (I'm glad to have participated in three fundraising dinners for him this summer.) By contrast, his antagonist didn't have to spend a dime to drag Rev. Boissoin through the mud of the HRC. And note page 37 of the ruling: though Rev. Boissoin's conviction was demolished by the judge, page after page; though Rev. Boissoin was clearly mistreated and abused by the HRC; though the judge's contempt for the HRC's outrageous behaviour is palpable, Rev. Boissoin was denied his request for all his costs to be paid.
In other words: Darren Lund actually won.
So we know that there are two ways to beat an HRC. The first is to embarrass the hell out of them, like I did. That's the only reason they dropped their case against me.
The other way is to fight it all the way to a real court -- seven years -- spending money that you don't have, to finally get justice.
I've read the ruling. I don't propose to go through it line by line, though it's wonderful (I recommend this great exegesis by young Rebekah). It's great: it mocks the HRC's procedure; mocks their utter lack of legal smarts; mocks their disregard for trifles like evidence; mocks their arrogant attempt to be real police and real courts; mockes their bizarre and illegal punishments.
So the ruling by Justice Wilson is a slam dunk for Rev. Boissoin.
Except: so what?
These HRCs do not abide by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so why the hell should they abide by some Queen's Bench judge?
Many HRC "panellists" aren't lawyers at all, and many who are, like Andreachuk, have no expertise in civil liberties. Some commissioners don't even have post-secondary education, yet they're appointed to these kangaroo courts. It's not that they wouldn't give a damn about what Justice Wilson ruled, though many wouldn't; it's that many of them wouldn't even understand all that law-talkin' stuff.
A glance through any HRC's rulings shows that they do not follow precedent. There is no rhyme or reason to the rulings; much of it is made up on the spot, and much of it is clearly the personal biases of whatever hack political appointee happens to be sitting in the chair that day -- the rulings are clearly back-filled with legalese to justify the personal whims of the commissioners. A disproportionate number of HRC rulings are overturned by real courts -- but that's my point: you need to have a helluva lot of money to get through the gong show into the real court. By that time, the damage is done.
I will make one final observation: this ruling is a rejection of Premier Ed Stelmach. This case was the first one I've ever seen in which the Government of Alberta sent in their own lawyer. Of course, all HRC lawyers are part of the government, too, and paid for by taxpayers. But in this one case, Stelmach sent in his own lawyer, David Kamal, to argue that Rev. Boissoin should be convicted. It was Kamal's argument -- on behalf of Stelmach -- that Rev. Boissoin's freedom of speech should be trumped by Lund's counterfeit right not to be offended.
Dear reader, do you think Stelmach gives a damn that he lost in court?
I can assure you that he does not. He has, in fact, given Alberta's HRC a generous reward for its seven-year persecution of Rev. Boissoin: a 26% budget increase. Alberta might be running the largest deficit in our history; unemployment might be rising; the recession might be worse in our province than elsewhere in the country; but, dammit, he's going to reward the HRC for their bullying, no matter what the hell some judge says.
Yes, yes, I agree with my friend Mark Steyn (who is quoted by the judge on pp. 33-34, if I recall) and Colby Cosh when they point out that the real courts have rebuked the fake courts. But how does that help the 90% of the HRCs' victims who succumb and accept a plea bargain without even a hearing, and the 98% of the rest who are convicted but lack the funds to appeal?
I agree that the courts are better respecters of freedom of speech now than they have been in the past, and I have often said I wished that section 13 would be put to the Supreme Court again, for they would throw this law out for sure. But if it took Rev. Boissoin seven years just to get to the first court, how long would it take him to go all the way to the SCC? And how many people would have given up long before he did?
Yes, I'm happy with the ruling. But not a damned thing has changed on the ground. Canada's 14 HRCs, with their 1,000 employees and $200-million cumulative budgets slouch onwards. Not a single province, territory or federal government has changed the law -- other than Stelmach, who expanded the scope and budget of his censors.
Too many more victories like this and we're lost.