Ezra Levant: May 2009 Archives
From time to time I look at my blog's statistics program, to see the websites from which readers come to my site. I've been linked to by a fascinating variety of sites, but I think my all-time favourite has to be this one: someone in China typed the phrase "should people have freedom of speech without censorship" into Baidu.com, the enormous Chinese search engine. I'm delighted that my blog was the second hit.
Needless to say, no Canadian human rights commission is on the list.
Just think for a moment how demoralizing it would be, if a young Chinese democracy activist were to look to Canada for inspiration about speaking truth to Communist Chinese power, and find one of our human rights commissions, only to discover the fascist excuses Canada's HRCs make for censorship.
Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the keynote address to the biennial convention of the Canadian Jewish Congress -- Canada's "Official Jews". He said some newsworthy things that I'll mention in a moment, but let me focus on my favourite subject, that of freedom of speech.
As I indicated in my Op-Ed in the Toronto Star on Friday, the award that the PM was given was named after Saul Hayes, a Jewish political activist who was instrumental in adding key free speech defences to the Criminal Code provisions against "hate propaganda". The "hate propaganda" crimes are still a blight on our legal system -- words, ideas and emotions should never be criminalized -- but because of Hayes, there are important defences, such as truth, and the honest belief of the person speaking. Notably, those defences are not present in section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the censorship provision favoured by the CJC and its ilk. No wonder -- there is no Hayes Defence to section 13, so the conviction rate remains 100%, the envy of North Korea, Cuba and Iran.
To my delight, the PM referred to Hayes' free speech track record in his speech today. He reminded the Official Jews that it is a great Jewish tradition to support free speech -- even offensive free speech. How else could Mordechai Richler's works be described? Here are some excerpts from a transcript that was prepared from his remarks as delivered (the word "applause" is from the live transcript):
Richler wore the outraged protests of his victims like badges of honour. Caustic, controversial and crude, they called him "un écrivain provocateur." I'm told one Quebec separatist I recall even called for one of his books to be banned, an attempt that I'm glad to say failed, because in Canada, one of the human rights we treasure most is the right to freedom of expression. Without it, there can be no democracy, no free press, no freedom of enterprise, no provocative polemicists like Mordechai Richler and no free exchange of ideas, the universal catalyst for human progress.
Saul Hayes also understood this. In the 1960s, he was a key member of the Cohen committee, which laid the groundwork for Canada's first anti-hate law under the criminal code. It became an effective legal weapon against naked hatemongering without compromising the elemental right to freedom of expression, a fine balance that, quite frankly, we must work harder to maintain in this country. (APPLAUSE)
That's about as tough as you can get, while still sounding prime ministerial, I think.
The PM's wording wasn't perfect. The whole point about freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from warrantless search and seizure, each of which (and more) is violated by Canada's human rights commissions -- is that it trumps other values, dogmas and priorities. To be technical, why it's called a freedom, not a right. It's a negative right -- the right to be free from other things. It can't be abridged because of someone's feelings. That is: there is no "balancing". We've got certain freedoms, full stop.
I think the PMO should have insisted that the CJC should have stripped the award from its last recipient, Richard Warman, before the PM accepted it. Warman, as readers of this blog (and Shakedown) will know, is Canada's most litigious censor. He censors libraries; he threatens to sue anyone who embarrasses him (literally dozens of his opponents); he is the most frequent complainant under the section 13 censorship provision of the CHRA. That's odious enough. But just two months ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal made a legal finding of fact that Warman wasn't just a prolific complainer -- he was also a prolific disseminator of hate speech, himself, especially anti-Semitic hate speech.
Warman joins neo-Nazi groups like Stormfront and Vanguard, goes onto their websites in neo-Nazi drag, and spews his bigotry hundreds and hundreds of times. This was known to the CJC when they gave him the Hayes award in 2007 -- what a disgrace. But even after the CHRT's ruling this March that Warman was disreputable for having done so, the CJC has not yet stripped Warman of the award.
In other words, the award the PM accepted today has been tainted by Warman's own anti-Semitic conduct.
Should the PM have declined to accept the award? Probably not; it was an important political opportunity. And, probably not 5% of the people who heard the speech knew who Warman was, or why he is a disgrace. And though Warman is disreputable, Hayes's legacy isn't. By not revoking Warman's award, the CJC shares in Warman's disgrace.
But enough about the CJC's disgraceful relationship with Warman -- let them wallow in each other's company. Back to the PM's speech.
There were two other noteworthy things the PM said today. The first was a great partisan shot against Michael Ignatieff:
It is all too common nowadays, friends, for politicians to claim to support Israel and the Jewish people in forums such as these. Yet, when Israel is attacked for the umpteenth time because its enemies refuse to
accept the right of the Jewish state to exist – that is the reason – these same politicians are quick to condemn Israel, to accuse it of war crimes and to demand that it unilaterally suspend its right to self-defence. You will not hear that kind of doublespeak from our government ever. (APPLAUSE)
Again, a PM has to be more subtle than a blogger. Harper didn't mention Ignatieff's name. But unlike Warman's obscure indiscretions, Ignatieff's comments during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, that Israel was a "war criminal", are well known to the audience today. Ignatieff spoke at the CJC today, too, and was surely obsequious. But can anyone in the room really count on Ignatieff's support for Israel when the chips are down? It's Ignatieff's former colleague at Harvard, Samantha Powers -- his "soul mate" -- who has argued that the U.S. should use military force against Israel, to force it to submit to Arab demands. That sounds like a typical kook academic -- but Power is a senior Obama advisor.
But the most interesting news today was the PM's announcement that Canada is introducing legislation to allow lawsuits against terrorist groups -- including foreign governments -- in Canadian courts:
This week in Parliament we will introduce legislation that will give victims of terrorism the power to obtain just compensation from those responsible for their suffering. (APPLAUSE) By amending the state immunity act, this bill will allow victims to sue perpetrators and sponsors of terrorist acts, including foreign states in Canadian courts.
Now, of course our actions in defence of human rights are by no means restricted to matters of foreign policy.
Defending free speech; jabbing Michael Ignatieff for his war crimes comment; and making a little news on the anti-terrorism front. Not bad for a fifteen minute speech.
Here's my Op-Ed from today's Toronto Star:
At its convention this Sunday, the Canadian Jewish Congress will honour Prime Minister Stephen Harper with its Saul Hayes Award. It's unusual for the CJC, many of whose members have long favoured the Liberals, to give an award to a Conservative Prime Minister.
But in Harper's case, it's well-deserved.
No world leader has been as clear as Harper has been in his support for Israel's right to defend itself. Just weeks after becoming Prime Minister, Harper single-handedly stopped a surprise resolution at the Francophonie summit that would have scapegoated Israel for its war against the terrorist group, Hezbollah. And at the United Nations, Canada has stopped bowing to anti-Israel peer pressure. Now, we're often the lone vote against anti-Semitic resolutions at the Orwellian UN Human Rights Council, while other democracies meekly abstain.
Here at home, Harper has been outstanding. He refused to accept the diplomatic credentials of the new Iranian ambassador, in protest of that country's murder of Iranian Canadian Zahra Kazemi. Harper was the first world leader to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza when it was taken over by the Hamas terrorist group. And he was the first to boycott the Durban II international conference in April when it became clear that it would be a replay of the Jew-bashing conference in 2001.
Harper's support has impressed even lifelong Liberals like Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman, and has made many other Jews rethink their traditional support for the Liberal party.
But Harper's views cannot be written off as a crass partisan move. Well-heeled donors are of no advantage under today's strict campaign finance laws that limit donations from individuals and ban them from companies.
And in terms of sheer voting power, Canada's Muslims are now twice as numerous as Canada's Jews. When Harper expresses philo-Semitic views, he does so out of conviction, not because of some political payoff. So it's proper that the CJC recognize his achievements.
The award the CJC will present to Harper is named after Saul Hayes, the late Jewish public servant and political activist. But Hayes was more than just a civic-minded Jew: he was a civil libertarian who understood the value of freedom of speech and clashed with his own community when they insisted on censorship.
When the Liberal government of the 1960s created a committee to add "hate propaganda" to the Criminal Code, Hayes was appointed. He clashed with the other members of the committee – including a young MP named Pierre Trudeau – by insisting that the new law contain protection for free speech.
"The Jewish people of Canada share with the rest of the Canadian people a determination to preserve those freedoms which are deeply rooted in the traditions of our country," Hayes wrote.
He was single-handedly responsible for adding a crucial legal defence to the crime. The Hayes Defence, built right into the "hate propaganda" section of the Criminal Code, ensures that no Canadian will ever be convicted for making statements if "he believed them to be true" – even if they are deeply offensive statements.
Those sound like pretty common beliefs – that freedom of speech is a Canadian tradition and that saying something you honestly believe should never be a crime. Most Canadian Jews share those views, just as much as any other Canadians. But Canada's Jewish establishment – like the Canadian Jewish Congress itself – has often been offside with Hayes.
The CJC and B'nai Brith are frequent intervenors in the censorship trials prosecuted under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). Unlike the Criminal Code, the CHRA doesn't allow the Hayes Defence. That's one of the reasons that there is a 100 per cent conviction rate for hate speech under the CHRA. If Hayes were alive today, he'd be appalled.
Hayes knew what today's Jewish establishment has forgotten: freedom of speech is a gift you must give to your enemies if you want it for yourself. Hayes even told his fellow Jews that Nazis had the right to wave a swastika. If not, one day Jews wouldn't have freedom, either.
And, in fact, the same censorship provision used by the CJC to censor its enemies has been seized upon by radical Muslim groups to harass pro-Jewish voices, like Mark Steyn of Maclean's magazine, and me when I published the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Hayes knew that as a perpetual minority, Jews had more to fear from censorship laws than by offensive speech.
It is my hope that giving the Saul Hayes Award to Harper – who has publicly criticized human rights commissions and their censorship as "egregious" and "abusive" – will remind the CJC of Hayes' commitment to free speech, and perhaps lead the CJC back to his good example.
Frankly, the award itself needs Harper's rehabilitation. The last recipient was Richard Warman, the former human rights investigator who was recently found by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to have published many vicious anti-Semitic comments on neo-Nazi websites in a misguided attempt to entrap other "haters." Hayes would be beside himself.
The Canadian Jewish Congress is giving Harper the recognition he deserves.
And just maybe, Harper will give the CJC something even more valuable in return: a reminder of the Jewish love for freedom, passion for vigorous debate, and opposition to censorship.
When I was in Winnipeg three weeks ago, I had a brief book signing at the local McNally Robinson store. While I was chatting with patrons and signing books, I managed to simultaneously do an interview with the local Jewish newspaper, called The Jewish Post and News. They actually put the story right on their front page, and it continued onto page 3. You can read the whole story here, in .pdf.
I'm pleased that Shakedown has received so much interest from Jewish media and that I've been invited to speak to so many Jewish groups. It's a sign of confirmation of my thesis that the "Official Jews" who are for censorship do not speak for the mass of Canadian Jewry. I find that very encouraging.
The JP&N story was pretty sympathetic. Regular readers of this blog will have heard me make most of the points in it before. But what's new is that David Matas, legal counsel for the B'nai Brith, tries to defend human rights commissions. It makes for entertaining reading -- especially since the B'nai Brith itself has been subject to a five-year-long witch hunt by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. My favourite detail about that fiasco is that B'nai Brith hasn't even been informed as to the identity of the complainant! Seriously, in what court in the world -- outside of totalitarian regimes like North Korea -- are cases brought by parties who remain secret? Actually, that's not fair to North Korea. They have secret trials there, to be sure, and they're sham trials, of course. But everyone knows who the prosecution is: it's the state. In Manitoba, the government has been hijacked by some secret party that the B'nai Brith doesn't even know. It's so absurd it would be funny, if it weren't so punitive.
And yet the B'nai Brith defends HRCs. I'm almost tempted to say they deserve everything they get, but I know that's not true. I believe that even murderers deserve a fair trial -- so surely politically correct lobby groups do, too.
Matas seems to agree that there ought to be some procedural changes made -- he points to outrageous delays in HRC cases, and to the fact that harassing complaints that abuse the system are not punished with costs being awarded against them. I agree with those criticisms, but even if the processes of HRCs were perfectly fair, I still wouldn't want them to have the power to censor political thought.
For me, it's not just the process that's abusive. It's the substance of the law -- the censorship of ideas.
Matas, who is a clever man, knows he has a difficult case to make, and he doesn't do a particularly good job of it. He says that the hijacking of HRCs by radical Muslims, such as Syed Soharwardy, could be stopped if the HRCs were merely "educated" about the risks of radical Islam. That's so naive it's cute. The HRCs are perfectly aware of the nature of radical Islam. They're happily doing the bidding of that illiberal fascism in the war against our western liberties. Matas actually thinks the HRCs don't know what they're doing. Well, tell that to Islamic fascist Arman Chak, happily working in the bosom of Alberta's HRC. I'm sure he'll turn right around after a little re-education session by Matas.
What would probably happen if Matas tried to re-educate Chak, is that Chak would try to re-educate Matas. And since Chak has the power of the law behind him, Chak would win. That's the problem with giving the state the power to censor -- and to re-educate. You can't always be sure you're going to be the one holding the stick, as opposed to getting beaten with the stick. The B'nai Brith and other Official Jews are so used to having Canada's HRCs do their bidding, they can't conceive of being its victims -- even as B'nai Brith has been victimized for five years, they still think that's an anomaly, rather than the natural, irresistable future of these censorship boards.
But my favourite line from Matas is his response to my call for the abolition of censorship laws altogether. Again, I'm opposed to both the process and the substance of such laws. Here's Matas's weird reply:
“This [Levant’s argument] is an argument which can be used about any law. Israel is falsely accused of genocide. So there should be no law against genocide and so on. The defence against abuse of the laws is to stop the abuse, not repeal the laws."
Look at what Matas is trying -- very clumsily -- to do. He's comparing laws against speech to laws against mass murder. That's one logical flaw -- equating political offensiveness with real crimes. And he's wrapped it in another logical flaw: saying that the only reason I want to repeal such laws is because they're being abusively applied. But, of course, I'm against censorship because I'm against censorship -- not just because the censors are such abusive clowns.
This is the final line of defence I've seen for the handful of people who actually do try to defend HRCs: they always deliberately blur thought crimes with real crimes. Pearl Eliadis is a specialist at this -- she always tries to use words that imply real violence -- "assault", "drive-by", etc. -- when talking about merely offensive words. It's a tell -- a sign that the HRCs' defenders know they're defending the indefensible, so they're going to try to pretend they're against real crimes, not word crimes.
Let me end with my all-time favourite fear-mongering response. If we repeal the censorship provisions of Canada's HRCs (and the criminal code provisions against "hate propaganda"):
That sort of reaction is a prescription for anarchy. It is in everyone’s interest that we have a society living under the rule of law rather than living in a lawless society.
Anarchy! Ladies and gentlemen, the only thing standing between Canada's peace, order and good government, and riots in the street, a war of all against all, are these HRCs and their censorship laws! Canadians are so malevolent, so violent and lawless in their hearts, that were it not for people like Jennifer Lynch, we'd be at each others' throats!
I'm not interested in living in a lawless society. I rather like our laws, or most of them. I like the Criminal Code, though we could do without the hate propaganda sections -- and, given the infrequency with which those provisions are actually used, it seems like the police can do without those, too, without us lapsing into "anarchy".
But look again at what Matas has done: he has said that to repeal censorship laws is to make us lawless. No: it would simply remove the laws from our thoughts and our words, and keep the police focused on violent deeds.
I rather like the idea of living in a country with intellectual anarchy. And, given the fact that you are reading this on the Internet, I get the feeling that you do, too. The Internet is about as lawless a frontier as it gets, when it comes to ideas and information. You will read offensive things on the Internet. But you're a grown-up. So you can handle it.
I'd like to live in a country where I'm safe from real harm. But when it comes to ideas, thoughts, emotions and other harmless deeds -- yeah, anarchy sounds a lot better to me than living under the yoke of Canada's HRCs, including the one that has had Matas on the run for half a decade for B'nai Brith's word crimes.
Here's a great page in the Toronto Star, with a lead editorial against censorship of "hate speech", and two smart letters on point, too.
The fact that it's from August 7, 1965 makes it even more impressive -- for months, John Beattie, the dress-up Nazi, had been strutting around Toronto, and the Canadian Jewish Congress had been calling for censorship laws. The Star was sensitive to the Jewish community and its fears, but wrote:
My trip through Nanaimo last week was so quick and busy -- and the weather was so lovely -- that the whole thing seems a bit like a dream. I think I was in the city for three hours total, but for about a second I thought of not going home, and just staying on Vancouver Island forever. Obviously a lot of other people feel the same way -- especially Albertans, who have moved there in large numbers.
Over the past two months I have posted many video clips from my book tour, and some of them have been repetitive. Here are two clips that are largely new in content.
The first, taken by Pete, is a clip that goes deep into the details about the Danish cartoons. Did you know that the whole fuss started because a leftist Danish political activist and author, Kare Bluitgen, couldn't get anyone to illustrate his child's illustrated Koran? He was trying to do a multicultural thing, he thought.
Did you know that of the twelve cartoons that ran in the Jyllands-Posten, depicting "Mohammed", that the "Mohammed" in at least one of them was a Muslim cartoonist named "Mohammed"? Did you know that several of the others mocked Bluitgen and the Jyllands-Posten?
Did you know that when a Danish imam toured the Muslim world to whip up anger at his adopted country, that nobody cared -- and that an Egyptian newspaper actually reprinted one of the cartoons without incident?
Did you know that the Danish imam actually created three obscene, anti-Mohammed cartoons himself, and added them to the original twelve just to get a reaction?
You can hear those details in this clip by Pete. (Sorry, I'm having trouble embedding it -- you can see it here.)
And here's an interview I did at Nanaimo's airport, with Roger. I give some of my thoughts on where the true responsibility for reform lies, and other questions.
Finally, here's a photo of me (pre-haircut) taken at one of the three fundraising dinners I spoke at for the legal defence fund for Rev. Stephen Boissoin, the Red Deer pastor who is subject to a lifetime gag order by a human rights commission. He is currently appealing that outrageous ruling.
On the left is Rev. Boissoin's lawyer (and my former boss), Gerald Chipeur, who is a leading religious freedom lawyer. On the right is Tim Bloedow of the ECP Centre, that organized the dinners. Tim says they grossed $50,000 amongst the three fundraising dinners, and he seemed pretty pleased by that. A lot of people have chipped in to my legal defence fund -- so it felt like good karma to help raise a few bucks for Rev. Boissoin's fund, in turn.
I spent the day on Vancouver Island today. It started with a great meeting in Victoria, with about 120 folks getting up early to hear me at a 7 a.m. breakfast event. Afterwards I walked over to Munro's Books with Jim Munro himself (who had come to breakfast) and I signed a stack of Shakedown's for their shelves. For those of you who haven't been to Victoria, look at this gorgeous edifice, below. It could well be the most magnificent book store in the country:
I've postponed my trip to New York City, but I still appeared on Fox News Channel's show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld last night, via satellite. (I recommend Gutfeld's blog.)
Here's the video clip. What do you think?
I'm pleased to report that Tim Hudak, considered a leading contender for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, has announced that he would abolish that province's human rights tribunal. Hudak becomes the second PCPO candidate to make that pledge, the first being Randy Hillier, which I wrote about here.
Hillier has it right: he'll simply do away with them. There is no need for HRCs; our civil courts already handle wrongful dismissal and landlord and tenant issues, and for anything more rambunctious than that, there's the Criminal Code. That's it.
Here's Hudak's announcement. In short, he'd abolish the kangaroo court aspects of the system, replacing it with real judges, bound by real rules of procedure.
That's half the problem -- as I experienced first hand. Had Syed Soharwardy, the anti-Semitic imam who complained about me, been bound by real rules of court, he likely never would have proceeded, out of fear of having to pay my legal fees for such an obviously abusive claim.
But merely replacing the HRCs corrupt system with a fairer court system is not the whole solution. I would have been no happier had a real judge heard the censorship case against me. It's the censorship that matters, too -- the counterfeit "right not to be offended". I don't want a real judge applying that fake right. I don't want anybody presiding over such a sham. So it's not just the process that's broken, it's the substance, too.
Hudak's announcement seems to address that -- he criticizes cases about "hurt feelings" and "political advocacy". I'd like to see the fine print -- if Hudak really is going to rein in the insane cases, and transfer everything else to real courts, perhaps he's accomplishing the same goals as Hillier is, but in a subtler fashion. That's fine by me.
There are two other candidates for the Tory leadership, of course. Christine Elliot and Frank Klees. Unless I've missed it, they haven't weighed in on the issue of HRCs, free speech and natural justice yet.
This news report by Karen Howlett quotes a single anonymous party "insider", who apparently is such an insider that he knows what the secret thinking is in both Elliot's and Klees's campaign.
For what it's worth, here's what that one party "insider" says about the two campaigns that have yet to announce on this subject:
[Hudak's and Hillier's] stand leaves them at odds with leadership rivals Christine Elliott and Frank Klees, who worry that the policy could hurt the party and be as ill fated as former leader John Tory's pledge to publicly fund all religious schools in addition to Catholic ones, said a party insider.
Dr. Tom Flanagan has a crystal clear article in today's Globe and Mail about the flaws in Canada's human rights commissions. And he beautifully illustrates that it is the government -- not private citizens -- that is responsible for the mass of Canadian discrimination, historically. I'd expand on that: it's not just in Canada, but around the world, that mass butchery of people is at the hands of governments, not private citizens. I remember debating with a Rwandan exile in Ottawa; he said he wished there had been a human rights commission enforcing hate speech laws when he was a kid. I asked him: if a government thinks nothing of killing your family, do you really think they would be stopped by their own law against "hate speech"? Far from it -- if there had been such a law in Rwanda, it would have been used against the government's opponents -- anyone who tried to criticize them.
Enough from me; here's Flanagan, and here's some excerpts. I love his use of the word "jihad"!:
For the first time in a long time, human-rights commissions are on the defensive. The Harper government is taking away pay equity from the Canadian commission and University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon's report has recommended repeal of the commission's right to interfere with free speech.
Both federal and provincial commissions are suffering blowback from their unsuccessful attempts to muzzle media gadflies Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. Mr. Levant, in particular, has declared a jihad against the commissions, drawing attention to the one-sided nature of the legislation under which they operate.
...we should remember that the existence of the commissions is itself an abuse. They have little to do with genuine human rights such as freedom of speech and worship, security of the person and ownership of property.
...In a competitive market, discrimination is costly to the discriminator. An employer who refuses to hire workers because of race, religion or ethnicity restricts his own choices and imposes a disadvantage on his firm. Meanwhile, his competitors gain by being able to hire from a larger pool. The same logic applies to restaurateurs turning away potential customers, or landlords refusing to lease to people of particular categories. (I'll never forget the experience of owning rental property in the recession of the 1980s; I would have rented to Martians if they had showed up with a damage deposit.)
...There is a long and dishonourable history of propping up discrimination in the private sector - refusing to enforce laws against violence (lynching), passing discriminatory legislation (Jim Crow laws in the American South) and authorizing business cartels (sports leagues) and labour cartels (trade unions). Satchel Paige would have been pitching against Babe Ruth if professional baseball had been a competitive industry.
...Think of the episodes in our history that make Canadians feel ashamed and for which our governments have been busy apologizing: disregard of aboriginal property rights; sending Indian children to residential schools; closing the doors to Jewish refugees; keeping out Chinese and Sikh immigrants; relocating the Japanese during the Second World War; interning Ukrainians during the First World War and Italians during the Second World War; eugenic sterilization of the mentally and physically handicapped.
Every one of these was an exercise of governmental power.
...Authorizing a government agency to stamp out discrimination in the private sector is truly setting the fox to guard the henhouse.
...There is discrimination in the private sector, but it is self-liquidating over time because of the costs it imposes on discriminators. Governmental discrimination, in contrast, perpetuates itself because it is backed by state coercion.
So in 1965, a 24-year-old unemployed clerk dressed up in a Halloween-style Nazi costume, strutted into a Toronto park, and gave a speech -- or a few minutes of one, until he was mobbed by literally thousands of "anti-Nazi" Jews, many wielding baseball bats and other weapons.
Beattie said he was the leader of the "Canadian Nazi Party", but it wasn't a party. It wasn't even an organization in any legal sense. It didn't have a bank account. It didn't have a newsletter. It didn't have any formal organization -- no bylaws, not constitution.
(It's just like Syed Soharwardy, the anti-Semitic Muslim radical who took me before the Alberta human rights commission in 2006 because I published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Soharwardy claims he's the president of the "Islamic Supreme Council of Canada". Sure -- and he's also its only member. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, the ISCC has been struck from the corporate registry -- so even Soharwardy isn't a member of it!)
Anyways, Beattie was a joke -- but a useful one to the Canadian Jewish Congress, who were looking for a PR boost for their perennial campaign to bring censorship laws to Canada. Beattie was it -- so the CJC hired John Garrity, a 37-year-old ex cop with a lot of street smarts, to help Beattie organize his little band. (Garrity also provided critical bodyguard services to Beattie.) Garrity billed the CJC for his services directly -- thousands of dollars in 1965 money, tens of thousands in 2009 money. That was money that was skimmed from Jewish charitable donations that funded the CJC.
So, we know that Beattie was useful to the CJC. But what did the police think of him and his "Nazis"? Were they a threat? Here is a three-page RCMP memo on Beattie and his group from December of 1969, with a cover letter written in February of 1970. Their conclusion: Beattie had no influence over the government or the community in general. He wasn't even worth following, from an security intelligence point of view. The only value that Beattie and his "Nazis" had, according to the RCMP assessment, was that "some pressure has been brought to bear on Federal authorities in the anti-hate literature bill."
Who was using Beattie to bring that pressure? The RCMP wasn't shy about naming names: the CJC. "It is also known that as a result of activities of the C.N.S.P. [Canadian National Socialist Party], some influence is brought on local and Federal authorities, mostly by the Jewish community in Canada."
Read the whole memo. Here are a few of my favourite snippets:
The RCMP notes that Beattie's rallies were poorly attended, except by counter-protesters (that would be the CJC and company). How were those counter-protesters described? "Left wing". The CJC? Left wing? How dare the RCMP cast aspersions on the CJC's political neutrality!
The RCMP noted that the "Nazis" had no money, and didn't receive any from the U.S., either. Most of the dollars they would scrounge up were used by Beattie himself, as he was unemployed. Lucky for Beattie, the Canadian Jewish Congress was there with their thousands of dollars to provide him with a bodyguard, organizational talent and -- according to the CJC's Rabbi Reuven Bulka -- a bottle of rum. Hey, maybe it was Jewish charity after all!
Mark Steyn is kind enough to link to my discussions about the Canadian Jewish Congress's role in building up the laughable "Canadian Nazi Party" in the 1960s -- a party of one.
And I'm going to use Mark's link as an excuse to publish another tidbit I uncovered in my research through newspaper archives on the subject.
Here is a front page story from the July 15, 1965 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.
What do we learn here?
1. John Beattie, (24 at the time, and unemployed), and his poor wife, had made a "six-minute" appearance the week previous at the Allan Gardens. (They fled to avoid being beaten by angry Jews.)
2. Besides wearing a home-made, Halloween-style Nazi outfit and ranting for a few moments, Beattie's offence consisted of holding up a sign that said "I Demand Freedom". What a Nazi!
3. Beattie was thrilled with this giant step closer towards the establishment of the Fourth Reich in Canada. Besides escaping with his life (probably due to the wits of John Garrity, the ex-cop that the Canadian Jewish Congress hired to be Beattie's bodyguard), Beattie claims "I even heard some applause." I think that's what campaigning politicians call "Big Momentum".
4. Toronto's City Council -- the stupidest in Canada in 2009, the stupidest in Canada in 1965 -- arrogated unto itself the unconstitutional right to forbid any "permits" for public speeches that they deemed "contentious". Why not? 750 years of rule of law be damned -- they were powerful aldermen, and they'd prove it!
5. So what did Beattie plan to do in the face of such censorship? Riot? Have a one-man Kristallnacht?
Uh, no. He decided to make his protest "an individual one."
Behold the mighty power of the Canadian Nazi Party! A party of one!
Tremble in fear before John Beattie! Start brushing up on your German!
If he ever got a job again, I bet he'd even drive a Volkswagen!
Seriously. This was the "menace" that the Canadian Jewish Congress -- and other Marxists and group rights hucksters like Mark MacGuigan -- parlayed into censorship laws in both our Criminal Code and later the Canadian Human Rights Act.
What a bunch of fascists.
The CJC and City Hall, that is.
No wonder the CJC is embarrassed.
What a friendly review in today's Winnipeg Free Press. They truly live up to their noble name. Here are some excerpts:
In 1776, radical British-American writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense, which defended inalienable rights against arbitrary authority.
Calgary lawyer and journalist Ezra Levant has become a Canadian version of Thomas Paine.
...He not only details his own imbroglio with the Alberta human rights bureaucracy, but looks at other cases from across Canada.
It is a concise, well-written account; Levant has a gift for explaining legal issues in clear, simple prose.
And he never loses his sense of humour, something that distinguishes him from his opponents.
...Levant's book, despite its brevity, raises profound issues about the nature of a free society and individual responsibility.
He appeals to Canadians' common sense and fairness. Hopefully these are qualities that still inhere in the Canadian public.
That's great! I had such a great time in Winnipeg at Rod Bruinooge's standing-room-only free speech event. I think that city really gets it, when it comes to fundamental freedoms!
I've been a conscientious objector to the Canadian Jewish Congress ever since they rented themselves out to the government in the 1992 Charlottetown Accord referendum.
To be more accurate, the CJC rented me out, for they claimed to speak for me and all other Canadian Jews when they endorsed that document on behalf of all Jews.
Seriously: since when did an ethnic advocacy organization become a partisan shill for a constitutional amendment that had nothing to do with Jews or Israel? It was a grotesque revelation for me: the CJC didn't represent Jews. It represented the political amibitions of its own staff and their echo-chamber clique.
Nothing's changed since then. As recently as last fall, the CJC's political enforcer, Bernie "Burny" Farber, unilaterally decided that all Jews must share his radical environmental agenda, so he endorsed some crackpot global warming campaign -- a not so subtle dig at the Conservatives, just days before the campaign was called. Some Jews might agree with Burny; some might not. But what was a Jewish group doing taking a partisan position, on behalf of the whole community, on an issue that had absolutely no relation to Judaism? Here's Jonathan Kay's scathing critique of some of the CJC's other bizarre antics in the last election.
The "J" in CJC is a fraud; they're a left-wing advocacy group with very little democratic support amongst real Jews. Here's an Op-Ed I wrote almost ten years ago about the subject, when Burny was showcasing his anti-Christian bigotry. It's gotten worse since then.
Over the years I've pointed out the left-wing, anti-Christian agenda of the CJC. And they usually ignore me, which is probably the smartest thing for them to do.
My debate with the Canadian Jewish Congress, about their role in propping up fake "Nazi" organizations, continues.
Here is my latest letter to the editor in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen, under the headline "CJC eager to trump up Nazi spectre:
Re: CJC helped stop Canadian Nazis, May 4.
In a Citizen opinion article, Ellen Scheinberg asks readers to "understand the context," and refers to Frank Bialystok's book, Delayed Impact, to refute my claims that the Canadian Jewish Congress helped organize the Canadian Nazi Party in the 1960s.
I've read that book, and I'm not sure if Scheinberg should be citing it if she's trying to make the CJC look good. On page 121, Bialystok calls the Canadian Nazis of the 1960s a "tiny group of misfits who posed little threat to law and order" and on page 133 he tells the hilarious story of how John Beattie, the unemployed, 24-year-old Nazi "leader," was acquitted of the charge of unlawful assembly because he was the only person at his own rally. Seriously: the Canadian Nazi Party was often a party of one.
So why did the CJC spend thousands of dollars hiring an ex-cop to join Beattie as his bodyguard and membership boss? Why did the Jews even arrange for Beattie to have an apartment to meet in (page 128)? At some meetings of the Nazis, half the people in the room were there on behalf of the Jews.
In my book, Shakedown, I argue that the CJC has always been eager to trump up the laughable spectre of Nazis in Canada as a pretext to get censorship laws. Bialystok's book confirms this on page 130, quoting Ben Kayfetz, the CJC's executive director in the 1960s, who admitted their Nazi scheme was part of an "intensive campaign for [such] laws."
As Bialystok noted, the CJC had other motives, too. At least three other Jewish groups had emerged as political competition to the CJC, so the CJC needed a dramatic PR win. Even the Canadian Jewish News condemned the CJC's Nazi antics, calling the CJC "ghetto police" who had pitted Jews against each other.
I stand by my factual assertion that the CJC, and other groups, used Jewish donations to prop up Nazis in the 1960s. The history book Scheinberg cites confirms that, and leads to many more embarrassing questions for the CJC.
Ezra Levant, Calgary
By the way, you can read Delayed Impact -- or at least the relevant chapter of it -- online at Google Books, here. The chapter is only about 30 pages, and it's a pretty embarrassing story of Jewish anti-Nazi rioting in Toronto and Jewish political infighting as a result. The cloak and dagger amateur spying -- not just on the Nazis, but on other Jews -- was so shameful that even the Canadian Jewish News condemned it. Unfortunately, it seems that the rioting itself was given some sort of political pass, not just by Jewish organizations but by Toronto's police chief at the time, and the bulk of city council.
As Bialystok noted, the whole thing was as much about the CJC maintaining its political hegemony in the Jewish community as it was about fighting one clownish kid dressing up in a Nazi Halloween costume.
Besides the CJC bankrolling the Canadian Nazi Party in the 1960s, they gave their moral support to CSIS's scheme in the 1980s to build up the racist Heritage Front into a national force, and to this day the CJC maintains a bizarre relationship with Richard Warman, the so-called human rights activist who was condemned in March by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for joining Nazi groups and spreading anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet. The CJC has yet to renounce Warman or strip him of their human rights medal -- apparently they're not as concerned about anti-Semitic filth as the secular CHRT is.
I really didn't spend a lot of time on this subject until the CJC lied about it in their two letters to the editor. I had based most of my book's comments on the tell-all by the CJC's agent in the Nazi Party, which appeared in Maclean's Magazine in 1966. You can see that here. Since then, though, I've read about 100 news items in the Toronto Star from 1965 to 1967 about John Beattie, and it's been a fascinating eye-opener.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of this research; it's been such an education to me about so many things, from free speech to policing to Toronto politics to the politics of Jewish advocacy groups and more. I might try to cobble together a big newspaper or magazine article, or even a quick book on the subject. The fact that the CJC has tried so hard to deny everything tells me that they still believe in their Nazi scheme, but they just don't want the publicity. That's unhealthy and, given the CJC's support for the Heritage Front and Richard Warman, they are obviously still supporting up false flag Nazi groups. They just hate being called on it.
Let me close with a typical news story about Beattie that appeared in the Star in 1965. It's the breathless reports from two super-secret spies for a Jewish group, called N3, who had "infiltrated" Beattie's "party". Their report was that he had "from nine to 17 followers." (I've pasted a jpeg of the story at left.)
That's it. That was the menace. And given that there were three other Jewish groups (including the CJC) that had "infiltrated" Beattie's "party" -- and that's not counting any police -- one has to wonder if there were any real members other than Beattie at all.
It's sort of like when Richard Warman was on the Nazi website Stormfront in one of his Internet personas, spewing his anti-Semitic bigotry, and he came across another member of Stormfront who just happened to be Officer Stephen Camp of the Edmonton Police Service, himself spewing Nazi filth online.
That's why the CJC's conduct in the 1960s is relevant. They were so eager to trump up the Nazi threat for their own political purposes they became blind to the fact that they themselves had become the great purveyors of Nazism in Canada -- just like CSIS did in the 1980s, and just like the Canadian Human Rights Commission is today.
I have the opportunity to listen to Khaled Abu Toameh about once a year, and frankly I'm always surprised to find out he's still alive.
He's a Palestinian journalist who used to write for one of the PLO's propaganda newspapers, until it was shut down by Yasir Arafat when the PLO had their funds cut off by their Saudi and Kuwaiti patrons after the PLO backed Saddam in the first Gulf War. However unlikely it sounds, Abu Toameh now works for, amongst other media, the Jerusalem Post.
I say I'm always surprised to find out he's still alive because whenever I read his work in the Post, I always think he's going to be hit with a fatwa for writing so honestly about the real situation in Gaza and the West Bank. But the fact that Hamas and Fatah leaders still give him interviews suggests that they think he's an honest reporter, too. What a balancing act.
He's really the only mainstream media source I trust to find out what's really going on in Palestine.
And, to my surprise, he's in Vancouver next Saturday as a keynote speaker at the Canadian Association of Journalists convention. You can read a bit more about the convention here, and you can get tickets to his luncheon speech by e-maiingl John Dickins of the CAJ here.
(I see that Tony Burman, formerly of the CBC and now of Al Jazeera, is also speaking. I'd put him at the other end of the credibility spectrum on Palestinian issues. I would love to hear what people who attend both speeches have to say about the two panelists.)
I wish I could attend Abu Toameh's speech. He's a true journalist, and every day he puts his life on the line to write his reports. We hear a lot about journalistic "courage" -- this guy doesn't boast about it, he just lives it.
If you're in Vancouver, go if you can -- John Dickins will give you the details.
The new Globe and Mail best-seller list is out. For the seventh week in a row, Shakedown is on it -- holding strong at fourth place in Canadian hardcover non-fiction. Michael Ignatieff's book is at third place -- apparently he sold just 120 more books last week than I did!
If he promises to read my book on freedom of speech -- a true liberal value, by the way -- I promise in return to read his book!
Are you going to be on Vancouver Island next Friday, May 22? If you are, please join me for a couple of book events.
I'm speaking in Victoria for breakfast. You can register here.
If you're further north, join me at lunchtime in Nanaimo. You can register here.
Those are the last two scheduled Shakedown events that I have -- I'm going to take a break from traveling for a while! I've got some exciting events penciled in for the fall, including in Toronto and New York City. As that schedule materializes, I'll keep you posted.
I'm not sure why Susan Cole isn't on a human rights commission yet. She fits the demographic profile perfectly: an angry white woman in her fifties or sixties. Seriously: Barbara Hall, Jennifer Lynch, Lori Andreachuk, Shirlene McGovern. They even look the same. They even dress the same. How did Cole miss the recruitment drive?
I say this for two reasons. First, she's just about the only "journalist" in Canada who supports the censorship powers of human rights commissions. The phrase "Uncle Tom" journalist is far too gentle for such a hypocrite; I've read Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Uncle Tom comes across as one of the gentlest, kindest men there is, someone who bears his burden with grace -- and is chided only for his passivity, not for being a traitor to his own kind. Susan Cole doesn't quietly bear the burdens of censorship -- she rejoices in censorship, demands it for her political opponents and excuses it.
She makes Uncle Tom look like Harriet Tubman.
The only reason I'm mentioning her twice in one week is because it's rather quite entertaining to watch her self-destruct on this issue.
As I pointed out the other day, her incomprehensible condemnation of my book (well, not really of my book -- it was really more a vomit of insults against me personally) was received with a massive denunciation by her own magazine's readers. Seriously, skim the decimation her readers lay upon her. But just skim it -- it's too painful to read them all.
Cole, naturally, wasn't troubled by charges of being illogical, or fascist, or just plain stupid. But the charge that her far-left-wing, anti-Israel magazine might have a whiff of anti-Semitism about it (say it ain't so!) is the one thing that caused her to reply. In particular, her decision to use this image:
depicting me, elicited a barrage of criticism.
It's not too subtle: I'm a money-hungry Jew (who hates poor Muslims). Not too many other ways to read a picture of, well, a Jew eating money. He must be hungry, right? Money-hungry.
That was the only criticism that seemed to upset Cole, because it exposed her as, to paraphrase section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, someone who published something on the Internet "likely to expose me to hatred or contempt".
Uh-oh. Susan Cole is a hatemonger! I'd better blow my hate crime whistle!
So Cole has come up with an alibi. No, that's not me being a money-hungry Jew. That's me eating my legal fees, she now says.
Uh, yeah. Good one. After a week, that's the best explanation she could come up with -- oh, after calling anyone who was insulted the real anti-Semites? Hilarious; lame; typical; gorgeous to watch. It reminded me of when Warren Kinsella was caught on tape (uh, by himself) claiming that Chinese restaurants in Canada serve cat meat to unwitting customers. There's something poetic about watching lefties, who accuse their political enemies of racism at the drop of a hat, squirm when their own racism is revealed.
Look: Susan Cole is a nobody, even in her own industry. The reason I highlight this is to show the true character of those who support Canada's human rights commissions. They're the bigoted ones. They're the un-Canadian ones.
And I say it not just in mockery -- for I believe that part of denormalization is to laugh at HRCs, rather than to fear them. I say it as a sombre observation that in our society there are plenty of people who would fit in quite well in a totalitarian regime.
Don't think for a moment that human beings in Canada or the U.S. are somehow genetically superior than human beings in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia were. There are those amongst us who would run to join in any such tyranny, who would lovingly volunteer to rat out their friends and neighbours, in the tradition of Pavel Mrozov. Our culture is more moral than those were, of course, but human beings are flawed, and there are those, like Cole, who would be attracted to an authoritarian regime for various reasons. Richard Warman practises a bizarre form of voyeurism and vigilantism when he goes online, for hundreds of hours, in neo-Nazi drag, to entrap fellow citizens; Kinsella boasts that Lenin is one of his heroes; Cole says that there should be laws against telling certain jokes -- laws like Stalin had.
I guess what I'm saying is: freedom constantly decays, and there are those who would hasten its decay for they would prefer an authoritarian society, with them on the side of authority.
Susan Cole is a laughable crank in Canada in 2009, whose ideas get no traction. But had she been born in Germany or Russia 100 years ago, she would be terrifying in the extreme.
The Fraser Institute has uploaded a few more vids of my talk in a bar in Vancouver (here are the videos from my talk; the ones below are from the Q&A session that followed). The last video, below, surprised me: even in far away Vancouver, Ottawa censor-of-fortune Richard Warman's ugly reputation precedes him and was the subject of two questions. I wasn't shy with my answers!
I noted that Warman sent a veiled threat to my book publisher, warning them from criticizing him! Nice try -- we've got about half a chapter on him and his odious tactics in there. Warman hasn't sued them (yet), but as I joke in the video, his missing lawsuit is all that stands between me and reaching the number one slot on the best-seller lists.
Here are the four new vids. What do you think of them? (Note: I finally did get my hair cut this month!)
Maclean's magazine sent Mitchel Raphael to the Shakedown event on Parliament Hill last week. He took some great photographs. You can see them all here, including a great shot of the hip of roast beef!
Will Turk has posted a series of video clips from my speech in Winnipeg.
This video clip is my favourite, for obvious reasons: Rod Bruinooge calls for the repeal of section 13, the censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
Here are the rest of Will's vids, more or less in order.
Will has posted other clips, too, including the question and answer session, that was moderated by radio great Charles Adler. You can see it all here.
Like most people I don't think about the ethnic or racial details of my friends -- unless it specifically comes up for some reason. And it generally doesn't come up -- unless some foolish political correctness demands that it come up, in the form of racial quotas or the like.
Needless to say, human rights commissions judge everyone based on those irrelevant criteria. They immediately assign you your political and legal status based on your race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. They ignore Martin Luther King's call to be judged by the "content of our character, not the colour of our skin". In that way, HRCs are the last blatantly bigoted institutions in the country. You won't find many golf clubs or country clubs boasting that they don't let in this race or that, but all 14 HRCs in Canada state right on their websites how they accord rights and privileges -- and hand out fines to some and tax-free jackpots to others -- based on a list of bigoted criteria. To use a phrase of the left, HRCs engage in "systemic discrimination".
Back to my headline: I spoke at a meeting of 200 people in Winnipeg last week, about Shakedown. It was a fundraiser for Rod Bruinooge, the MP for Winnipeg South. I think Rod's a great guy -- strong conservative, great fit for his riding. That's the beginning and the end of it for me. But if I was an HRC type, I'd reduce Rod to simply his race: he happens to be Metis.
And the 200 folks who paid $125 each to hear the talk -- the biggest fundraiser Rod has ever had, he says? I'd say a quarter of them were visible minorities, especially Sikh and Hindu. Again, I don't think that would register with most normal people, other than the room looked like Winnipeg looks. No-one was there as some sort of window-dressing or some sort of quota. They just like Rod and (I like to think) were interested in my book.
In fact, at the head table where Rod and I sat, there was precisely one WASP male -- the bright and good-humoured dean of the U of M law school, Chris Axworthy, who was excellent company. Everyone else at the table was what the HRCs would call a "designated group" -- a Metis, a Jew, a Hindu, a Sikh and two women.
I know this sounds ridiculous, this sort of statistical census. And, I swear, I never engage in this sort of ethnic "profiling", like the HRCs do. But I've been thinking so much about how HRCs judge people based on race and sex -- while their own bosses are all drearily the same. I mean, Barbara Hall, Jennifer Lynch, Lori Andreachuk, Shirlene McGovern, Sandy Kozak -- they're all middle aged, privileged white women with a bullying streak. Not a lot of "diversity" there -- let alone intellectual diversity.
Hey, I don't care that they're all the same demographically -- they're the ones who say they care.
Back to Thursday night: it was a hit. We talked about real human rights -- freedom, the reason why so many of the immigrants in that room had come to Canada. We talked about equality before the law, our great liberal traditions dating back to the Magna Carta. That got people genuinely excited -- both "old stock" Canadians, and newcomers, too. I loved it. And all under the aegis of a Metis MP.
I'd normally headline this blog post something like "Shakedown draws big crowd in The 'Peg". But why don't I write a sentence that no counterfeit HRC could write: "human rights activists speaks to multicultural forum on behalf of Metis host"?
Here are some pictures from that great event.
P.S. I've been thinking about partisanship lately, because I had a great complement of Liberal MPs and Senators at my book event in Ottawa last week, which was co-sponsored by Keith Martin, a Liberal MP. I mean what I say when I state that freedom of speech and rule of law belong to all Canadians, not just one party or another. I truly want all parties and all MPs to get behind the necessary reforms here.
At the same time, I am a Tory partisan, and some of my events (like Rod Bruinooge's) are to the benefit of the Tories. But I've made a personal decision: I'm going to put my money (literally) where my mouth is. If a Liberal MP or Senator asks me to do a fundraising event, themed around freedom of speech and reforming HRCs, I'll accept the invitation.
We brought in $25,000 in one night for Bruinooge (plus whatever they made in their silent auction and other revenue streams), all in the name of free speech, and Bruinooge himself made some excellent comments about freedom. He's a believer, and I know 200 people who are going to give him encouragement and support to fix it.
That's more important to me than his partisan stripe.
I'm a conservative and a Conservative, and I want Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister. But if a Liberal MP -- or Bloc MP, or NDP MP -- asks me to come to their home town to talk up freedom at one of their partisan events, I'll be there in a flash.
And I might even wear my Liberal Party cufflinks, as I did at the Ottawa event last week.
I hope that plenty of Liberals take me up on my invitation.
Let me close with a few snapshots of the Bruinooge dinner, and my visit to McNally Robinson bookstore in Winnipeg the next day. Thanks to Dr. Rob for the McNally picture, and Dave for the dinner pix.
I remain impressed and heartened with the love Americans show towards freedom of speech -- not just for themselves, but for people around the world. Including for Canadians. The very first order for Shakedown, months before the book officially launched, was 500 copies for a U.S. book club. That's amazing in itself.
This month, Reason Magazine, America's premier libertarian monthly, carried a whopping 4,000-word excerpt from Shakedown. That's a pretty big read, but they thought it was of sufficient importance for their U.S. readers to learn about the threat that the soft jihad of "lawfare" poses. It's not just a Canadian phenomenon -- the United Nations is attempting to criminalize criticism of Islam around the world. Think of the U.N. as one big Canadian human rights commission, with America in its sights.
Here's their excerpt, which is slightly modified from the book. (The book uses the phrase "f-word"; Reason, in a confident display of freedom of speech, spells that phrase out!).
And National Review, a U.S. magazine that I often regarded as the Western Standard's older brother, has posted an audio interview with me. You can hear it here. And here is the formal book review the magazine ran.
I have to postpone my trip to New York, which was scheduled for next week, until the fall. I'll be sure to publicize the details of it when the new date is firmed up -- I know some NYC readers were interested in attending. I can hardly wait to get down there. But I'm pleased that one of the media appearances that I was scheduled to do in-studio from Manhattan will proceed, with me appearing from a TV studio in Calgary. I'll give you more details on that soon. I'm pretty excited about it and, other than the very first media interview on my book tour (Canada AM), it's the only media appearance that I've actually felt nervous about -- partly because I'm such a fan of the show. More later on that.
Globe and Mail best-seller list
I don't think this link is current: the Globe and Mail's best-seller list has me at #3 (and Michael Ignatieff's new book at #5). I think that's out of date; I think this week we've actually switched places. Still, I remain amazed that a book that I thought was quite radical, and that deals with what could be called an eye-glazingly boring subject (a quasi-judicial tribunal? Even saying that phrase is a cure to insomnia!), has found purchase with the public in general. I don't think Shakedown's success has much to do with my literary prowess. I think it's a testament to the stunning story the book reveals: nation-wide corruption and abuse of our legal system that Canadians find shocking.
I hope the book's popular success is a signal to politicians that it's safe to bring in some reforms now.
A bad review
As loyal readers will know, the book has received favourable reviews from dozens of critics, especially from those who would be called "liberal". That makes sense. For, despite the fact that I am sometimes a partisan Conservative, the book isn't really about me, it's about freedom of speech, which belongs to everyone across the entire political spectrum. Left-wing or right-wing, freedom is part of our Canadian identity.
Unless you're Susan Cole, entertainment editor of Toronto's freebie weekly, Now Magazine. Her review is the first negative one I've received. And it's garnished with this delightful collage:
Tonight I'm speaking at Rod Bruinooge's fundraiser in Winnipeg. I saw him yesterday in Ottawa, and he said the event has sold very well -- about 200 folks have shelled out $125. It's going to be a great night.
We've decided to add another event due to popular demand: on Friday, I'll be doing a signing at the McNally Robinson book store -- and for this one, admission is free! The details are here.
Not quite. She introduced herself to me: she was Jennifer Lynch, the Chief Commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
I was surprised -- she looks nothing like her publicity photo, which must have been taken way back when she was a leftist activist working for Joe Clark. That was when she was making a name for herself as an anti-Alberta bigot.
I wasn't particularly surprised to bump into Lynch. It's Ottawa after all, and she's furiously lobbying MPs to keep the censorship provision in the Canadian Human Rights Act -- and to keep her job. I was just surprised to bump into her in Canada. Other than the foreign affairs minister and the international trade minister, I doubt there's many people in Ottawa who rack up bigger travel expenses on the public dime than Lynch does. I mean, just to pick one of her countless junkets at random, here is the expense report from one of her jaunts to Vienna -- she stuck taxpayers with an $8,200 tab to go to a 15th anniversary party, commemorating... another junket.
I just said the first thing that came to mind: "I'm surprised to see you in Canada, not jet-setting to Europe or Africa," and we both entered the elevator, along with Dick Harris, MP and Alykhan Velshi, Jason Kenney's Director of Communications.
"I'm in town with Mark Steyn," I said, to fill the awkward silence.
"I know," she said.
"There's going to be a lot of hate speech tonight!" I joked. Well, I thought it was a joke. But I think Commissar Lynch was already mentally assigning the case to one of her enforcers. Maybe it would be Sandy Kozak.
Lynch was quiet now. But I was warming to my theme: "I think I'm going to file a hate speech complaint against myself," I told her. "Who do you think would win that one?"
In an act of mercy, the elevator opened, and Commissar Lynch walked out, rictus grin still in place.
I was in Ottawa yesterday for a bi-partisan human rights event in support of my book, Shakedown. It was co-hosted by Liberal MP Keith Martin, and Conservative MP Rick Dykstra. More than 230 people showed up -- it was so big, it literally filled the hall and spilled into the street.
It was a private event -- that is, it wasn't open to the general public or even to the media, though a few free speech bloggers did sneak in! The purpose was to give Members of Parliament, Senators and Hill staff a chance to learn more about Canada's corrupt and abusive human rights commissions, and the a pressing need for change.
I think we accomplished that goal.
We had about 50 MPs and Senators there, including plenty of cabinet ministers. To my delight, the RSVP list included Liberal and Bloc Parliamentarians, too. Liberal Senator Grafstein addressed the audience on behalf of the Liberal Party, as Dr. Martin had to go to the airport.
Even though I can be a partisan Tory, it was important to me that the event be non-partisan. That's because freedom of speech is not the turf of just one party or just one political philosophy. It's the foundation for all parties and all it's central to our entire political system. It's the basis of all public debates, and it's even the root of the word Parliament itself.
To emphasize this point, I wore my Liberal Party cufflinks, which were given to me years ago by my dear friend, former Liberal Party president Stephen LeDrew. I was so busy throughout the evening that I didn't have a chance to visit with every MP or Senator, but I did see when Liberal MP Paul Szabo showed up, and I greeted him warmly, personally escorting him into the hall and showing him those cufflinks!
Sen. Grafstein's comments were touching: he acknowledged that he had personally been involved with the creation of Canada's human rights commissions, and that he regretted their wayward course. He actually said he wished he had lost the debate decades ago. I found that quite touching -- and his criticisms of the radicals who now run the commissions was very powerful, given Sen. Grafstein's impeccable human rights credentials.
Rick Dykstra spoke next. Keith Martin was the first MP to move a motion on the subject of free speech, and several months later Dykstra became the first government MP to move a resolution on the subject in a Parliamentary committee. Both have been leaders on the issue, and Dykstra's office helped with the logistics for last night's event. A big thank you to Jim, James and Lloyd for their great work in spreading the word about the event, and working diligently throughout the evening. We were aiming for 100 people, and we got more than double that -- and on a voting night, no less!
Mark Steyn was the star of the evening, of course, and scores of people had brought their copies of America Alone for him to sign. The local Chapters brought hundreds of copies of Shakedown. I thought it was a ridiculously big stack when they arrived, but they reminded me that they quickly sold out at the last book-signing I did in Ottawa. At the end of the evening, they told me they had sold 200 books, which is pretty incredible. I signed a lot of copies, including for Ministers Clement, Strahl, Yelich, Baird, Finley, Ambrose (and Ministers Kent, Kenney and Fletcher were there, too). And there were plenty of MPs and Senators, from almost every province. I'm sorry I can't name everyone -- I didn't even have a chance to see everyone!
Most of the people in attendance were staff, ranging from Parliamentary interns to chiefs of staff. I was particularly pleased to see so many folks from the Prime Minister's Office there. I hope that the tidal wave of bi-partisan enthusiasm in that room gave them encouragement to make the decision to repeal section 13, the censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act. It would truly be a bi-partisan affair, and I hope they do it.
After the reception, Laureen Harper hosted Steyn and a handful of other long-time free speechniks at 24 Sussex Drive. It was a pretty great way to end the day.
Mitchel Raphael was there with his camera for Maclean's magazine; his pictures will likely show up here.
I hired a photographer, too, and I'll post his pictures, probably next week.
Sorry I've been away from blogging for a few days -- I was kept pretty busy with back-to-back speeches in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton in support of Rev. Stephen Boissoin, the pastor who was bullied by Alberta's human rights commission. They sentenced him to a lifetime ban, gagging him from criticizing gay marriage for the rest of his life, in public (including sermons) and in private (including personal e-mails). You can read the full text of this Stalinist order here.
The events were a success, and the funds will go to help pay for his appeal to a real court.
I love the Metro newspapers -- they're the free transit dailies from Vancouver to Halifax, with a combined daily readership of over a million. They asked me to write a short Op-Ed on what I think the state of freedom of speech is. Here is my effort, and here is a brief excerpt:
Freedom of speech is something we take for granted, so we rarely think about it. But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
We’ve got to reform these HRCs, to get them out of the censorship business. And we’ve got to remind Canada’s other censors — from university “speech code” enforcers to the radio and TV regulators at the CRTC — that freedom is a Canadian value and we won’t give it up easily.
A Rabbi's view on HRCs
The London town hall meeting that I attended last month along with Kathy Shaidle and Salim Mansur was organized in part by Jewish leaders in that city. One of those in the audience was Lazer Gurkow, the rabbi of that city's Beth Tefilah congregation. Here's his thoughtful assessment of what he heard. Here are some excerpts:
...The idea of abolishing a body committed to the protection of human rights seems absurd to most, but I must admit that I found the arguments compelling.
...Laws are as imperfect as those who legislate them and as grossly misapplied as those who enforce them. It is not practical to empower imperfect humans with the legal authority to enforce moral standards. That is a situation ripe for abuse and cannot work. The only workable solution is a democratic system of checks and balances. Imperfect as democracy is, it is the best we humans have.
On the other hand, a Torah society is not democratic and free; it is a theocracy. Its laws are absolutely binding on its adherents. Its authority to mandate and to legislate, to obligate and to require is truly above the law. Such power in the hands of human beings can only corrupt. The Torah has remained pristine because it derives its authority from the Creator; a supreme moral being.
Human beings can only achieve approximate perfection through freedom of expression and a system of checks and balances. The Torah, because it speaks for G-d, articulates the values that are absolutely correct.
...Humans, who can barely govern their own feelings, cannot be entrusted with governing the feelings of others.
That reminds me of Malcolm Mayes' great editorial cartoon about HRCs:
Shakedown reviewed by Lord Black in The New Criterion
I'm honoured that my friend Conrad Black has reviewed my book for the prestigious New York-based arts and culture magazine, The New Criterion.
You have to subscribe to get the whole review (or pay $3), but here are a few excerpts:
...As Mark Steyn writes in his foreword, Americans may think Canada is a long “chorus of Barney the Dinosaur singing ‘Caring is Sharing.’” But Ezra Levant introduces us very quickly to Canadian notions of Orwell’s “thoughtcrime,” in a wildly perverse laundry-list of abuses in the human rights industry.
...There are other astounding and disturbing examples of how the human rights commissions functioned. People were routinely convicted without facts or demonstration of intent. There was no need for harm or damage, only the notional possibility of future harm: in terms of cash penalties, a de facto criminalization of unstated, imputed thoughts that could be acted upon by a biased interrogator, unchecked by any balanced fact-finding process. It is enough that a randomly selected commissioner perceive a “likelihood” that something undesirable might have happened, arriving at that conclusion by abusing untrammeled powers in the name of nonexistent rights that can only be exercised at the expense of real rights that generations of brave people fought for in Canadian courts and Canadian uniforms, on foreign battlefields, and in contested skies and oceans.
...In their zeal for self-preservation and crusading belligerence, the human rights inspectorate infiltrates suspect and target organizations. Thus, crypto-Nazi and white supremacist organizations are first bloated with disguised official infiltrators and then decried as having achieved worrisome dimensions. Search and seizure can be conducted without a warrant or even notice after the fact; breaking and entering, theft, and vandalism are immune to sanction. Completely innocent and uninvolved people are set up by official computer-hacking as conduits to targets and infiltrators. The frontiers of the sting have been extended beyond the horizon.
This could be a cautionary tale for Americans, whose legal system and constitutional protections for real rights have rotted and decomposed far beyond anything that has afflicted Canada. The Fifth-, Sixth-, and Eighth-Amendment guarantees of due process, the grand jury as protection against capricious prosecution, the assurance of no seizure of property without just compensation, speedy justice, access to counsel, an impartial jury, and reasonable bail are all unattainable relics of a gentler and more officially honest time...
I'd love to reprint the whole thing, but you should just go spend the $3 to buy it!
Pique Magazine is based in Whistler, B.C. Here's their peppy review of the book. Here are some excerpts:
...If you're a liberal and you hear the name Ezra Levant, there's an immediate compulsion to just wave him off. "He's a loudmouth blowhard," you may be thinking, "A conservative douchebag." That's irrelevant here. In this book he puts aside all his tribal affiliations and expresses genuine concern for Canadians' right to free speech - and for all Canadians, from Spartacists to Western Separatists.
...Naturally, "blowhard" that he is, Levant fought back with research - much of which he has documented in Shakedown, which stands as the single biggest PR fallout the human rights commissions will ever experience. It's a vicious, nonpartisan polemic that every Canadian should read. It comes from the mouth of a journalist and lawyer who took the brunt of a commission's punishing process and set out to keep it from happening to any Canadian ever again.
...Human rights commissions in Canada have clearly devolved into fascistic, punishing interrogations that are literally making up human rights on a case-by-case basis. Even if you don't get convicted, Levant makes it clear that the commission prozess is punishing enough. He's the loudest advocate for free speech in Canada and everyone, journalists, lawyers, and the public alike, ought to be infuriated by what he has to say.
I thought that was pretty friendly!
Metula News Agency
The Metula News Agency, or Menapress, is an interesting mix of political analysis and leading-edge Middle East intelligence. Much of it is written in French, as was this lengthy review of Shakedown.
I'm delighted that Menapress translationed it into English. I can't seem to link to the exact entry, but for the next little while you'll be able to find it quickly from the main page, here. Some excerpts:
If you asked an educated Westerner to draw a list of countries where fundamental freedoms are best protected, Canada would probably be among the first mentioned.
…It is all the more revealing to discover how, in one of the most mature democracies and the quietest on the planet, a branch of government can adopt the logic of a totalitarian state.
…Human Rights Commissions are not bound, as are real courts, by the constraints of procedure. There are no rules defining what type of evidence may be accepted or not. The decision to try in public or in camera is at the sole discretion of judges. A fundamental inequality is established between the plaintiffs, all of whose costs are borne by the State, and the defendants, who must pay for all their costs.
Neither are they subject to the ethical and professional obligations of real courts. No legal training is required to work there: they have been staffed for the most part, by fervent human rights activists who have the political connections necessary to be appointed, but without qualifications as judges.
…More importantly, the commissions were protected from outside scrutiny by their name and their mission. When “human rights” is part of your title, and when you are responsible for fighting discrimination, you can only be a Good guy.
Such, at least, was the reasoning held by majority of Canadians until early 2008. They only made the same error as most of us. We all often forget that words are not the real thing. You can be called “progressive” and passionately strive to hold back civilization, or call a “people's democracy” the rule of a small elite that hates and suppresses the people. You can also call “Human Rights Commission” the main threat against human rights to have appeared in an advanced democracy.
My event in New York City on the evening of May 19 is a private event. If you're in the city and are interested, send me an e-mail. I'll have more news from that visit to come, including a list of the media events I'll be doing.
My event in New York City on the evening of May 19 is a private event. If you're in the city and are interested, send me an e-mail. I'll have more news from that visit to come, including a list of the media events I'll be doing.