Ezra Levant: June 2009 Archives
I should have devoted more attention to the leadership contest for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Four candidates ran in that election -- Tim Hudak, Frank Klees, Christine Elliott and Randy Hillier. And -- amazingly -- reform of Ontario's out-of-control human rights commission became the central policy debate of the race. Stop for a moment to reflect on how incredible that is. That simply wouldn't have happened two years ago, or perhaps even a year ago. That is a testament to the denormalization of Canada's HRCs, and how politically-aware Canadians (particularly those of a conservative stripe) have taken a keen interest in the subject. As I noted in April, it was Randy Hillier, the great libertarian MPP, who first raised the subject, with his simple call for the abolition of Ontario's HRC. I loved his motto: real justice, real judges. Tim Hudak saw the common sense of Hillier's position -- and its political appeal -- and dittoed Hillier's position. He had a few phraseological nuances -- he'd simply refer such matters to real courts, and get rid of the more obscene counterfeit human rights, like the "right" not to be offended. I wrote about it here. That's when Elliott and Klees decided to use the issue as a wedge. Klees said the Hudak and Hillier proposals would "send the wrong message" and that letting real courts handle these matters – meaning real rules of evidence and procedure, costs being awarded against nuisance litigants, etc. -- would "limit access to justice". It would limit access to something, that’s for sure, but not to justice. Elliott's campaign said HRCs are a "legitimate forum" that should be reformed, not abolished. But both Elliott and Klees tried to have it both ways; as you can see in the two statements I linked to, Elliott called for the HRC's abuses to be "stopped", but left it at that vague non-promise; and Klees proposed to repeal the Ontario Human Rights Code's ban on discriminatory signs and notices -- a good start, but hardly the root of the problem. The main argument put forward by Elliott and Klees, though, was not that HRCs were particularly good, or that the Hudak-Hillier position was particularly bad, from a policy point of view. It was that they thought HRC reform simply couldn’t be sold. In the debates, Klees said “just like the faith-based school policy, which took us 20 minutes to explain ... no one has 20 minutes to explain this” and Elliott called it “politically toxic”. Note carefully: neither of those arguments are substantive policy arguments. They’re political worries, signs of self-doubt, of conceding that the other side will be better communicators on the issue. As the reference to the school policy of the last election shows, it’s a position motivated in fear – a fear that would let the Liberal Party determine what the PCs would or wouldn’t believe in. That’s pretty weak – and it smacks of the Liberal lite policies that were so disastrous for the PC party after Mike Harris’s departure, when the PCs thought that tacking to the left would help. It didn’t. Let me close win some observations as to the political viability of proposals to reform HRCs: 1. Hudak won, and the two nervous nellies lost. That’s pretty much the clearest verdict on whether or not HRC reform is “toxic”. 2. Hudak didn’t just win with his own members and Hillier’s; he won substantial numbers of votes (points, actually, under their system) from Elliott’s camp, too. On the second ballot, the points stood at Hudak: 4,128 Klees 3,299 Elliott 2,903 Clearly, if Elliott’s voters were convinced that HRC reform was “toxic” – or a “recipe for electoral disaster” – they would have gone to Klees, and easily beat Hudak in the final run-off. Instead, Hudak picked up more than half of her vote. It was dramatic spin from Elliott’s camp to make HRC reform sound scary, but most of her own supporters didn’t believe her. 3. Klees said it takes 20 minutes to make the case against HRCs, and that in an election politicians just don’t have much time. I don’t think it takes 20 minutes – I think it can be done in 20 seconds. Here’s one news story about Hudak’s win that mentions HRCs in passing, and does a pretty good job of summing up the problem in about half that time: …Mr. Hudak was unapologetic about his campaign, which included a pledge to disband the province’s human rights tribunal, a body that has issued some perplexing decisions in recent years, including one forcing a bar owner to post signs saying “We accommodate authorized marijuana users” after he asked the man to move from the doorway while he smoked a joint. That’s not bad, and that’s by a reporter, not a professional campaign team. I could imagine campaign sound bites that included phrases like “there’s no such thing as a human right not to be offended” or “real human rights deserve real courts” or “kangaroo courts that don’t respect freeom of speech are un-Canadian” or simply “Barbara Hall is out of control”. Of course, none of those are as powerful as simply summing up the nutty cases out there, as the reporters above did, referencing the crazy case of Gator Ted’s. [Last time] …there was no appalling figurehead like Barbara Hall to run against; there wasn't a steady stream of easy-to-understand examples of appalling stupidity emanating from the object in need of reform; the media wasn't uniform on the matter -- and committed to it, as personal users of free speech; liberal NGOs weren't on side; and the public hadn't been primed on the subject for a good 18 months in advance. Suffice it to say that in the first political battle in which HRC reform was the central issue, the reformer won handily. Tim Hudak has proved that we have moved from the denormalization phase to legislative action phase of our campaign. Other political entrepreneurs should take note.
I should have devoted more attention to the leadership contest for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Four candidates ran in that election -- Tim Hudak, Frank Klees, Christine Elliott and Randy Hillier. And -- amazingly -- reform of Ontario's out-of-control human rights commission became the central policy debate of the race.
Stop for a moment to reflect on how incredible that is. That simply wouldn't have happened two years ago, or perhaps even a year ago. That is a testament to the denormalization of Canada's HRCs, and how politically-aware Canadians (particularly those of a conservative stripe) have taken a keen interest in the subject.
As I noted in April, it was Randy Hillier, the great libertarian MPP, who first raised the subject, with his simple call for the abolition of Ontario's HRC. I loved his motto: real justice, real judges.
Tim Hudak saw the common sense of Hillier's position -- and its political appeal -- and dittoed Hillier's position. He had a few phraseological nuances -- he'd simply refer such matters to real courts, and get rid of the more obscene counterfeit human rights, like the "right" not to be offended. I wrote about it here.
That's when Elliott and Klees decided to use the issue as a wedge.
Klees said the Hudak and Hillier proposals would "send the wrong message" and that letting real courts handle these matters – meaning real rules of evidence and procedure, costs being awarded against nuisance litigants, etc. -- would "limit access to justice".
It would limit access to something, that’s for sure, but not to justice.
Elliott's campaign said HRCs are a "legitimate forum" that should be reformed, not abolished.
But both Elliott and Klees tried to have it both ways; as you can see in the two statements I linked to, Elliott called for the HRC's abuses to be "stopped", but left it at that vague non-promise; and Klees proposed to repeal the Ontario Human Rights Code's ban on discriminatory signs and notices -- a good start, but hardly the root of the problem.
The main argument put forward by Elliott and Klees, though, was not that HRCs were particularly good, or that the Hudak-Hillier position was particularly bad, from a policy point of view. It was that they thought HRC reform simply couldn’t be sold.
In the debates, Klees said “just like the faith-based school policy, which took us 20 minutes to explain ... no one has 20 minutes to explain this” and Elliott called it “politically toxic”. Note carefully: neither of those arguments are substantive policy arguments. They’re political worries, signs of self-doubt, of conceding that the other side will be better communicators on the issue. As the reference to the school policy of the last election shows, it’s a position motivated in fear – a fear that would let the Liberal Party determine what the PCs would or wouldn’t believe in.
That’s pretty weak – and it smacks of the Liberal lite policies that were so disastrous for the PC party after Mike Harris’s departure, when the PCs thought that tacking to the left would help. It didn’t.
Let me close win some observations as to the political viability of proposals to reform HRCs:
1. Hudak won, and the two nervous nellies lost. That’s pretty much the clearest verdict on whether or not HRC reform is “toxic”.
2. Hudak didn’t just win with his own members and Hillier’s; he won substantial numbers of votes (points, actually, under their system) from Elliott’s camp, too. On the second ballot, the points stood at
Clearly, if Elliott’s voters were convinced that HRC reform was “toxic” – or a “recipe for electoral disaster” – they would have gone to Klees, and easily beat Hudak in the final run-off. Instead, Hudak picked up more than half of her vote.
It was dramatic spin from Elliott’s camp to make HRC reform sound scary, but most of her own supporters didn’t believe her.
3. Klees said it takes 20 minutes to make the case against HRCs, and that in an election politicians just don’t have much time. I don’t think it takes 20 minutes – I think it can be done in 20 seconds. Here’s one news story about Hudak’s win that mentions HRCs in passing, and does a pretty good job of summing up the problem in about half that time:
…Mr. Hudak was unapologetic about his campaign, which included a pledge to disband the province’s human rights tribunal, a body that has issued some perplexing decisions in recent years, including one forcing a bar owner to post signs saying “We accommodate authorized marijuana users” after he asked the man to move from the doorway while he smoked a joint.
That’s not bad, and that’s by a reporter, not a professional campaign team. I could imagine campaign sound bites that included phrases like “there’s no such thing as a human right not to be offended” or “real human rights deserve real courts” or “kangaroo courts that don’t respect freeom of speech are un-Canadian” or simply “Barbara Hall is out of control”. Of course, none of those are as powerful as simply summing up the nutty cases out there, as the reporters above did, referencing the crazy case of Gator Ted’s.
[Last time] …there was no appalling figurehead like Barbara Hall to run against; there wasn't a steady stream of easy-to-understand examples of appalling stupidity emanating from the object in need of reform; the media wasn't uniform on the matter -- and committed to it, as personal users of free speech; liberal NGOs weren't on side; and the public hadn't been primed on the subject for a good 18 months in advance.
Suffice it to say that in the first political battle in which HRC reform was the central issue, the reformer won handily. Tim Hudak has proved that we have moved from the denormalization phase to legislative action phase of our campaign. Other political entrepreneurs should take note.
I got a great present for father's day yesterday -- a new baby. So I'm going to be taking a break from blogging for a few days. I've got a lot I plan to write about later this week -- including Jennifer Lynch's outrageous revelation in today's National Post that she keeps files on her critics, Richard Nixon-style. What an odious woman -- and what an embarrassment to her boss, Stephen Harper.
Needless to say, when it came to baby names, "Jennifer Shirlene Elmasry Levant" didn't make the short list!
Roy Green is one of Canada's great radio hosts, and he has a massive audience across the country on the Corus radio network. He called up the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and invited Jennifer Lynch to debate me on his show.
Imagine the panic on the other end of the phone.
On the one hand, Lynch has publicly called for a debate about censorship in her rage-filled speech to her fellow HRC profiteers at their trade convention last week. On the other hand, she didn't mean "debate" when she said debate. She meant "she gives a speech, and we listen obediently".
If she turned Green down, and refused to be on the show with me -- like she did with CTV's Newsnet -- she'd look like a coward and a fool. Again.
But if she debated me, she'd have to answer questions she'd rather not answer -- questions about everything from her outrageous six-figure expense accounts for luxury junkets, to the neo-Nazi memberships that at least four of her staff use at the office.
What's a censor to do?
Well, she rolled out a new list of demands for Green: she wouldn't debate me; she wouldn't interact with me at all; she wouldn't even say hello to me. But she would do us all a favour, and consent to appearing on the show after me -- as long as I can't ask her any questions.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a "debate" looks like for Commissar Lynch and her fellow censors.
It's absurd. The closest thing it reminds me of is high school.
Can you pass this note on to that girl in gym class for me?
Why don't you give it to her youself? She's standing right there.
Oh, I can't just give her the note! Can you give it to her for me?
Uh, why don't you just talk to her?
Just because! Please, please, please!
Seriously: have you ever seen such a childish tantrum from a grown up, let alone one in public life? She calls for a debate -- but then sets down bizarre and censorious rules for the media. Those are her demands for the media -- she demands that they cover her propaganda in a different manner than they cover any other politician in the country.
Could you imagine if Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff tried to pull such a stunt with a journalist? It would be front page news the next day, and the whole country would say, "who the hell does he think he is?"
Well, Lynch and her fellow censors have been bullies for so long, they forget what it's like to live amongst normal people who think a debate means engaging with people who disagree with you.
But I don't mind.
I don't mind that she refuses to interact with me. I don't mind her childish demand that she gets to go last, so that I cannot rebut anything she says. I don't mind, because her childish tantrum speaks far more eloquently than I can about the central issue here: she is a bully who doesn't believe in the right to disagree with her.
She is a bully who would censor her political opponents and the media, if she could.
She is a bully who is so sensitive to criticism that she will do anything to avoid it.
She runs an organization that is so corrupt and abusive, she cannot withstand a single pointed question from someone who has actually seen it from the inside.
She can dish it out but she can't take it.
She can prosecute people she doesn't like -- but she can't even take a single question herself.
Seriously: is there a single question I could ever ask her that would have such a devastating impact on her reputation -- especially amongst the media, especially with fair-minded hosts like Roy Green -- that could rival her own self-detonation?
You would think she would have learned from the PR disaster last week on CTV Newsnet. That was mocked from coast to coast. She apparently thought that went swimmingly, and is signing up to do it again.
Hell, I'm up for it. I'll do one of these lop-sided debates every day for a month with Lynch -- or whatever lackey she throws into the mix. I'll let her go last every time. Hell, I'll happily give her twice the time I'm alotted. Because she has no idea what she sounds like. She's tone deaf. She's like the dictator in a banana republic whose every speech is applauded wildly by her palace guard, so she thinks the peasants truly, really love her. She has no idea what severely normal people outside of her little high-priced fiefdom actually think of her.
Tune in tomorrow at 12 noon MT, which is 2 p.m. ET.
Let me leave you with such an obvious question: if my arguments are so fallacious; if my facts are so inaccurate; don't you think a smart lawyer like Lynch -- with a staff of over 200 flunkies, including a half dozen PR staff -- would be able to tear me to shreds, especially with a fair moderator like Roy Green?
If I had a single inaccuracy in my book or blog, don't you think Lynch would be able to detonate me? If she had an answer to my charges, don't you think she'd love to expose them on a national radio show -- and leave me stammering for a reply?
Of course. Which is precisely why she won't debate me. And it's why she wants to go last, so I can't rebut her own lies.
Bring it on!
This week, the Canadian Human Rights Commission was the subject of committee hearings at Parliament. Jennifer Lynch refused to attend, and sent David Langtry in her place. That's how Lynch likes to do it. She's all about issuing edicts and orders and giving lengthy speeches. Answering questions or debating? That's beneath her, especially if the questioners are merely elected legislators. She earns more than them, after all. Why should she waste her time humouring the little people?
Besides being one of Lynch's lackeys, Langtry's claim to fame is his drunken-sailor-style spending on the taxpayer's dime. Seriously, check out these expense claims -- here's $40,000 in just three months, on top of his obscene salary. Langtry knows how to milk the system almost as well as Lynch does. But she hogs all the exotic overseas trips for herself; Langtry usually has to resort to flying luxury class domestically to rack up his frequent flyer points. (David, you're declaring those points to Revenue Canada as taxable benefits, right?)
Here's a video of Langtry being questioned by Russ Hiebert in Parliament this week. I'll leave this up for a day, and then I'll add to it. It's a quiz:
How many lies can you catch Langtry making to Parliament?
I'll come back later to take you through it, minute by minute.
On Monday, Jennifer Lynch, the chief commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, gave a speech to her fellow censors at the human rights industry’s annual trade show in Montreal. It was such a grotesque speech, any self-respecting government ought to fire her for uttering it. It revealed Lynch’s complete misunderstanding of the nature of human rights, the right of citizens to question their government, and the government’s proper attitude towards peaceful criticism.
It was the speech of an angry bigot.
It showed Lynch to be temperamentally unsuitable for any public office, especially a prosecutorial office with powers similar to those of real police. She’s bitter, vindictive, paranoid and motivated by anger and vengeance. If she was a real cop, answerable to an internal affairs branch, she’d be put on leave and investigated for her rage-filled rant.
Lynch’s speech was that of a bureaucrat at war with Canadian citizens. It was a speech of a bully who seeks the power to destroy those who oppose her.
I’ve rarely seen such a speech uttered by someone in public life; Jacques Parizeau’s “money and the ethnic vote” comment wasn’t a speech – it was a five-word gaffe, but it showed his true colors, and it has discredited him ever since. Lynch’s speech was Parizeau’s vengeance stretched to 20 minutes – but done on purpose. Even Richard Nixon’s enemies list was a private document; Lynch’s speech, in which she catalogues her enemies and denounces them, was a formal, public utterance, vetted by the CHRC’s half-dozen PR staff. It was clearly written by Lynch herself – the personal venom of it just couldn’t be faked.
Lynch is what Orwell feared
There have been some excellent dissections of the speech; Mark Steyn has a round-up of many of them, and the National Post gave almost a full page to the subject on Thursday. I will try not to repeat their points. Rather, I would like to point out something superlative in Lynch’s speech: she has taken Orwellian inversions to a level that I have not seen before. She’s simply the best at what Orwell called newspeak and doublethink.
Every flaw and error in her own conduct and that of her CHRC henchmen, she attributes to her opponents. Every vicious tactic she uses herself as a matter of course, she blames on her victims.
It is classic Orwellian behaviour, and it shows Lynch is better suited to working in Iran than in Canada.
The censorship business attracts sociopaths
This isn’t a small point, and it’s not just a one-liner. It is the entire psychology of the CHRC – and it is why that corrupt organization attracts so many sociopaths as employees. Seriously: in the section 13 censorship squad, you’ve got Sandy Kozak, an ex-cop thrown off a police force for corruption; you’ve got Dean Steacy, a tyrant who declaims that free speech is not a Canadian concept and who laughs under oath that he didn’t break the CHRC’s rules, because there aren’t any rules to break; and you’ve got Richard Warman, who spends literally hundreds of hours online, posting anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-gay venom on neo-Nazi websites. Sorry, that’s just not a normal, well-adjusted group of people. Hunting your fellow citizens using unethical means isn’t what normal people do. These people are off. And Jennifer Lynch is their perfect leader.
Let’s look at a few lines from her speech. Some are merely lies; others are perversions of the truth, where she accuses her victims of committing her own offences:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission welcomes improvements to the human rights system.
That’s simply a lie. Lynch paid $50,000 to Richard Moon to write a whitewash of the CHRC. To everyone’s surprise, he cashed his cheque and recommended scrapping section 13, the censorship provision. Lynch threw his report down Orwell’s memory hole, and pretended it never happened.
And, as many of you will recall, at last year’s conference I launched a comprehensive policy review of how to prevent the harm caused by hate messages on the Internet, while respecting freedom of expression... The Report also proposes improvements to our Act to address shortcomings that were identified during consultations.
Consultations? There were no consultations. When Lynch blew $50,000 on Moon’s report, she learned her lesson: don’t consult people – even one person like Moon – if you aren’t 100% sure they’re going to obediently parrot your views. So she didn’t this time. There were no hearings. That wouldn’t be the CHRC’s job anyways – representing the public will is Parliament’s job. Lynch didn’t consult anyone other than her fellow sociopaths in the censorship industry.
Further, the Commission makes observations with respect to improving the effectiveness of the Criminal Code.
Orwell would have loved that: “improving the effectiveness of the Criminal Code.” In her memo to Parliament, Lynch calls for the repeal of the truth defence to the hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code. As I wrote in the National Post, unlike human rights laws, the Criminal Code allows truth, and honest belief, and religious convictions as defences to “hate speech” charges. Lynch wants to remove those defences to get a higher conviction rate – maybe even the 100% conviction rate her CHRC has for censorship cases.
What is the purpose of a Criminal Code?
Now, even real police know that the purpose of the Criminal Code is not to convict everyone. Merely rigging the law to get more convictions is not “improving the effectiveness” of the Criminal Code, for the Criminal Code’s desired effect is not to convict everyone. It’s supposed to convict the guilty, acquit those who are not guilty, and provide a predictable set of rules for living in our liberal society – ordered freedom.
The purpose of a Criminal Code in a place like Iran or North Korea is to convict whomever the police charge. That’s it’s purpose there – to enable a totalitarian government to have its will done. That’s not the purpose of a Criminal Code in Canada. But it is to Lynch.
In addition, insofar as points about our processes were raised, we are addressing these internally:
We are clarifying and publishing our operating procedures;
Oh, that’s smooth. “Points about our processes were raised.” I love the passive tense and the bland meaninglessness of it.
CHRC internal procedures are a scandal
By “processes”, of course, Lynch means the standard operating procedure of her sociopathic staff: joining neo-Nazi groups and publishing hundreds (thousands?) of bigoted remarks on the Internet, in attempts to entrap “real” neo-Nazis. And that’s just the start of it. Her staff hacked into a private citizen’s Internet account to cover their tracks while they went online in Nazi drag. Her staff routinely refuse to disclose documents to their targets, despite their legal obligation to do so. There’s the spying on political websites, like the conservative Free Dominion, by commission staff. They even admit to illegally acquiring the fruits of criminal search warrants, for use in their own HRC prosecutions.
And then there’s the CHRC’s most basic “process”: having investigators like corrupt ex-cop Sandy Kozak harass citizens for months or even years for political offensiveness. Kozak’s harassment of Fr. Alphonse de Valk, the Catholic priest who publishes a small magazine in Toronto, cost him more than $20,000, before Kozak spat him out. Lynch’s mob just loves bullying Christians for holding conservative views – an illegal application of the “hate speech” law. They’ve also gone after the Christian Heritage Party and Rev. Stephen Boissoin, just to name a couple of others.
Imagine if Kozak the corrupt ex-cop tried to bully Jews the way she bullies Christians.
Emphasis on whitewash, not reform
We will be issuing a policy or a Guideline that will define hatred and contempt, as per the jurisprudence, so that the layperson understands that only the most extreme hate messages on the Internet fall under section 13;
Ah, yes. We must educate the “layperson” that section 13 censorship only applies to “the most extreme hate”. Note that Lynch’s own staff are not the targets of this reeducation – they’ll continue to harass Christians, conservatives and anyone else who gets in their way. Merely offending Lynch’s sensibilities will be enough to prosecute them. But the public must be told that only evil people are being censored.
Right – like evil Fr. Alphonse de Valk and his “extreme hate” newsletter talking about the Bible.
The Commission has a responsibility to better inform the public about its role and processes and we are already engaging in an expanded outreach strategy.
“An expanded outreach strategy” – that could mean so many things. Does it mean the CHRC’s continued publications on neo-Nazi websites? Or is it their new brownshirt approach to news media like CTV, telling them to blackball me from appearing “anywhere” on their programs?
Now, let me also state that this debate is a positive and important democratic exercise.
Really? Is that why the CHRC threw out Moon’s report? Is that why Lynch tried to blackball me from TV? Is that why Lynch herself refuses to testify before Parliament, sending her lackeys instead?
Does Lynch really value freedom of speech?
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in Canada. As all of you will know it is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Really? Well that’s not what the CHRC says under oath, when prosecuting their victims. Two years ago, in the case Warman v. Lemire, Lynch’s employee Dean Steacy testified that "freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value”. You can read that for yourself right here, at page 4793.
Lynch has never corrected Steacy’s statement. Steacy has not been ordered to correct his testimony in that case. It is being used as evidence to prosecute Marc Lemire – a case whose judgment is still pending.
Freedom of expression is important because words and ideas have power.
No, that is not why freedom of expression is important. That doesn’t even make sense. Not all words and ideas have power; most don’t. We believe in freedom of expression because we believe that the essence of being human is to have a conscience and beliefs and dreams, and for the state to censor our speech is for the state to attack our very essence as human beings. That is why freedom of speech is a human right – because to destroy that freedom is to destroy our identity as people.
That power, while overwhelmingly positive, can also be used to undermine democracy, freedom and equality. It is for this reason that Canada, and many other nations, have enacted laws to limit forms of extreme hateful expression that have very minimal value in the free exchange of ideas, but do great harm to our fellow citizens.
What an illiterate, ahistorical lie. Mere words cannot destroy democracy or freedom or equality. Because mere words cannot trump other human rights, such as property rights, the right to self-defence, the right to life, etc. This is what Hitler discovered after he took office: all the fiery speeches in the world couldn’t kill a single Jew, let alone millions – he had to change real laws that protected Jews from what he really wanted to do to them. An even starker example is that of antebellum United States. Blacks in the north had to live with pervasive racism, just like blacks in the south did. But mere racism couldn’t turn a black man into a slave. Only state laws that destroyed real human rights could do that – laws that turned men into mere property. All the insults in the worlds can’t stop democracy, freedom or equality. It takes a tyrannical government to do that.
The major concern is one that I know that most of us share: the need to strengthen the overall human rights system and ensure the public understands what we do.
As Mark Steyn points out, Lynch cares more about her human rights “system” than about any real human rights – such as freedom of speech.
But look at the emphasis on propaganda. Lynch doesn’t really want the public to know what the CHRC does. She desperately tries to have the media shut out of her secret trials. She stonewalls access to information requests, violating the law in doing so.
Pretending that Warman's private playground is for the public interest
Fundamental to the administration of justice is access to justice – entry points for the most vulnerable to have their voices heard.
All but two section 13 censorship cases prosecuted by the CHRC since 2001 have been filed by Richard Warman. He’s a former CHRC investigator himself, who now works in the Department of Defence’s own internal human rights commission. Uh, is he really Canada’s “most vulnerable” voice?
Over time, access to administrative tribunals has been deemed to be an effective vehicle for the disenfranchised minorities, among others. Certainly all of us here who work at Commissions and Tribunals provide that vital access.
I wouldn’t think that white male lawyer like Richard Warman is a disenfranchised minority. But maybe I’m just looking at him wrong – I’m being racist. In some ways, he’s such a minority, he’s probably unique. How many members of EGALE also post anti-gay bigotry on the Internet, as Warman does? How many recipients of awards from the Canadian Jewish Congress are also members of neo-Nazi groups on the Internet, and call Jews “scum”? Indeed, he is a minority!
$200-million/year HRCs vs. amateur bloggers
The debate is now the larger debate – beyond balancing rights – and it has become about the human rights system itself.
We are in a time when a mounting campaign suggests that equality has been achieved in Canada. Certain detractors seek to caricature the human rights system, and undermine its legacy and ability to ensure equality for all Canadians.
That’s gorgeous. A “mounting campaign”. Lynch was speaking at the annual five-star luxury retreat of the human rights industry. Last year it was in gorgeous Niagara on the Lake. This year it’s in historic Montreal. I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s scheduled to be somewhere overseas, perhaps in one of Lynch’s favourite spots, like Vienna or Sydney. (I love the acronym for the HRC industry: CASHRA. You bet – the 14 HRCs get about $200-million a year amongst them from taxpayers, much of it blown on “hospitality” like the CASHRA getaways.
So, against a $200-million industry, whose 14 HRCs probably have 50 full time PR professionals and spin doctors, Lynch cowers before a “mounting campaign” of... amateur bloggers and hobbyists. Not one of us is paid to counter the HRCs; not one of us has a budget for lobbyists and pollsters, like the CHRC does; not one of us can drop $50,000 to commission a self-serving report. A mounting campaign? Too bad Lynch’s scofflaw approach to access to information requests means we’ll never see just how much time and money she’s spending on PR damage control. Oh well – better that than persecuting some Catholic priest.
This began with a complaint brought against Rogers Communications by the Canadian Islamic Congress, in three jurisdictions: Federal, Ontario, and British Columbia. All three dismissed the complaint.
Look at how cavalierly Lynch dismisses the triple jeopardy here – Maclean’s was sued in three jurisdictions simultaneously, for the express purpose of harassing them. No problem for Lynch – and a quarter of the CASHRA room probably nodded their heads, thankful for the busy-work.
Even before the three complaints were dismissed, many commissions and tribunals experienced a cacophony of protest – by those who felt that exposing mainstream media organizations to formal complaints is inconsistent with Canada’s commitment to freedom of expression.
Ah, the “cacophony” of freedom. So much less acceptable than the harmony of the official government view. That’s the sound Lynch likes – her own voice. She doesn’t much like critics, especially those who would dare to complain about a lack of freedom of speech!
Lynch can't name a single factual error
The debate moved to one of discrediting Commissions’ processes, professionalism and staff.
No. Lynch and her fellow HRCs discredited those. The blogging Army of Davids merely exposed them to the light of public scrutiny.
Much of what was written was inaccurate, unfair, and at times scary:
Articles described human rights commissions and their employees in this way:
“human rights racket”
“welcome to the whacky world of Canadian human rights.”
“...(i)t sounds like a fetish club for servants of the Crown”
“a secretive and decadent institution”
Inaccurate, eh? But Lynch provides no examples of such inaccuracies. Unfair? That’s more Lynch’s kind of talk – something vague and personal and emotional. Scary? I guess it depends on your definition of the word. I’m not really scared about the criticism I receive on the blogosphere. I am scared about a government that spies on its own people, entraps them, and then prosecutes them.
Gestapo? That was the Nazi domestic secret police. At least I think that’s what Lynch was referring to. Or maybe she’s talking about one of her staff’s codenames on the Stormfront neo-Nazi website.
Human rights racket? What else would you call it when a former investigator for the CHRC is also the biggest complainant at the CHRC, where he has a 100% conviction rate, wins tens of thousands of dollars in tax-free awards for same – and has his expenses paid for, to this day, by the CHRC itself?
Wacky world? Is she serious? Mark Steyn called her wacky, and it hurt her so badly she felt the need to unburden herself of that in a speech to a conference? Is this woman an emotional five-year-old?
Secretive? See above, re: attempts to ban the media from hearings.
In addition to this mounting discredit for our institution:
blogs worked to destroy our investigators and litigators’ reputations and credibility with untrue accusations;
groundless complaints were lodged with the law societies; and
a Commission employee’s life was threatened.
This is by far my favourite part.
First, it admits that in fact, the Army of Davids who have been blogging about the CHRC have in fact succeeded in discrediting it. I find that concession enormously satisfying: the denormalization is happening. Not through the terrible calumny of calling her “wacky”. But through the incessant publication of real and odious facts about the CHRC – and Lynch herself.
“Destroy our investigators and litigators’ reputations and credibility with untrue accusations”. Really? So is it untrue that investigator Sandy Kozak is a corrupt ex-cop? Is it untrue that investigator Dean Steacy has a membership in a neo-Nazi organization – and that litigator Giacomo Vigna has it, too? What exactly is untrue?
But could any whine from Lynch be less sympathetic than “groundless complaints were lodged with the law societies”. Wow. This from the queen of groundless complaints, such as the groundless complaint against Fr. Alphonse de Valk, which cost him $20,000 before he was let go –or, hell, the $100,000 I had to spend in the two groundless complaints against me.
But the extra irony there is that Lynch’s own staff have filed more than a dozen law society complaints against me – including a complaint that I used the term “kangaroo court” to describe the CHRC. It is unthinkable that Lynch did not know about or approve these complaints against me – or the defamation suit filed against me by her staff lawyer, Giacomo Vigna, for ridiculing his bizarre and embarrassing performance before a tribunal. (Litigation update: I recently had a pre-trial conference on this file in Ottawa – the last step before a trial date is set. I undertook to the judge to keep the content of that conference confidential, and I will. But let’s just say this: after that conference, Vigna decided he’d better not represent himself anymore, and he hired a real lawyer. I’m looking forward to the trial, and I think Vigna will be quite surprised to learn that in some real courts in Canada, truth and fair comment are actual defences.)
Some human rights experts tried to respond and correct this misinformation. One human rights expert who wrote a letter to a major daily paper faced an accusation in a response letter by a journalist the next day asking, “is (name of person) a drunken pedophile?”
This is a damnable lie by Lynch. Again, Mark Steyn wrote that comment about Pearl Eliadis, an HRC hack from Montreal. But for propaganda purposes, Lynch strips out so many words to invert its meaning. Steyn was mocking Eliadis’s own unfair accusations. Here’s what he really wrote:
Let me take just one sentence: “Are Levant and Steyn hatemongerers? Maybe not. But no one has decided that.”
Overlooking her curious belief that “hatemongerers” is a word, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Eliadis stands on its head the bedrock principle of English justice and airily declares that my status as a “hatemongerer” is unknown until “decided” by the apparatchiks of the HRC.
Can anyone play this game? “Is Pearl Eliadis a drunken pedophile? Maybe not. But no one has decided that.” In her justification of the HRC process, Eliadis only confirms what’s wrong with it.
What he wrote had the 180-degree opposite meaning of what Lynch said he wrote. That’s a lie. That’s how Lynch operates. In fact, her lie hides that it as Eliadis herself who made the baseless accusation against Steyn (and me).
Public embarrassment doesn't equal "chill"
As personal attacks were made against anyone who tried to correct the record, the number of people willing to make the effort dwindled. There is tangible proof of this: 50% of interviewees for an upcoming book on human rights have stated that they feel “chilled” about speaking up.
I know what “chill” means. Chill means that if you are a publisher and print some Danish cartoons of Mohammed, some HRC will prosecute you for 900 days, with fifteen government bureaucrats and lawyers, and you’ll spend $100,000 in legal fees even if you eventually win. That’s chill.
Chill is not a critical letter to the editor, or someone cancelling their subscription, or someone calling you an idiot. That’s part of the fun of being in the public square – and part of democracy.
Lynch dares to equate the real chill or prosecution, fines, legal fees and the stigma of a government agency deeming you to be a “hatemonger” with the “chill” of having your foolish ideas criticized in some far corner of the Internet.
Can’t you see how these people despise freedom?
Ironically, those who are claiming that human rights commission’s jurisdiction over hate speech is “chilling” to freedom of expression, have successfully created their own reverse chill.
The reverse chill! I love it!
Critics of the human rights system are manipulating and misrepresenting information to further a new agenda: one that posits that human rights commissions and tribunals no longer serve a useful purpose.
Lynch has shown in this speech that she’s no slouch when it comes to manipulating and misrepresenting the facts. But that’s the thing about liars like her – they’re easy to rebut and discredit.
Why won't Lynch debate her critics?
If, as Lynch claims, people like me and Steyn are such liars, why doesn’t she just tear us to pieces? If we’re making it up, why not point out a single inaccuracy?
Why not debate us?
The answer is easy. Because we aren’t making up the facts – we’re uncovering the facts that Lynch doesn’t want uncovered.
And, on a deeper level, for Lynch to debate us would be an acknowledgement that there is a debate – that there are two or more points of view that are legitimately held. That’s not part of Lynch’s business model – or her psychology. She believes there’s her point of view – and the rest is hate speech. That’s why she wants to remove truth as a defence from the Criminal Code. Doesn’t she have a monopoly on the truth?
Because the Maclean’s case was about a journalist, it naturally attracted the attention of many other journalists, who quite rightly see their role as a bulwark against incursions on freedom of expression.
I do believe that some are unwitting accomplices in a gross oversimplification of the issue, who flame the controversy by repeating inaccuracies.
Again, I’d pay someone a dollar to hear just one single inaccuracy that this nag is referring to.
It seems that fundamentally detractors do not believe that access to administrative tribunals in search of equality is something that our country should ensure.
Is that what I’ve been railing against for 18 months? I don’t want people to have access to legal help as they search for equality?
What a damned liar. Of course, there is no equality at the CHRC – for example, they refuse to accept complaints against anyone other than white Christians. Last year, when a radical Muslim imam was caught calling for the death of gays, Jews, women, liberal Muslims, etc., the CHRC refused to even take the case. Access to justice, eh?
No, I’m not against access to justice. It’s that I don’t think the CHRC is anything remotely like justice. It’s a kangaroo court, a political court, a rogue court. It prosecutes fake crimes, like thought crimes, word crimes and emotion crimes. And it destroys natural justice and the rule of law. That’s what I’m against.
But maybe that’s why Lynch won’t debate me – she’d rather fight against a straw man argument, than my real arguments.
As I provide examples, I ask you to listen for a thread that is causing many of us a larger concern.
Here are some examples, all from mainstream media:
“Human rights commissions have been set up as a kind of parallel police and legal system, yet without any of the procedural safeguards, rules of evidence, or simple professional expertise of the real thing.”
True. They have police powers – and then some. They have the right to warrantless search and seizures. They have no internal affairs oversight (even judges have a judicial committee overseeing them). HRCs allow hearsay evidence; HRCs aren’t run by judges, often not even by lawyers. I say again: where’s the inaccuracy?
“…our human rights commissions have flown under the radar of public attention for too long, ignored by … a judiciary that has inexplicably allowed these pseudo-courts to flourish under their very noses.”
True. And it was that anonymity that allowed them to persist. How they wish they could turn the clock back.
Is Lynch investigating Monte Solberg?
A former Cabinet Minister recently wrote about an author’s description:
“His story of the terrible abuse of power at the Canadian Human Rights Commission is a bone-chilling horror story. God help you if you get caught in (a human rights commission’s) crosshairs, because if it investigates you, the ordinary rules of justice don’t apply, including the normal legal protections for the accused.”
Watch out, Monte – they’re prosecuting a former MP, Jim Pankiw, for letters he mailed to his constituents. You’re on their watch list now, too.
These comments clearly show misunderstanding about the separate roles of Commissions and Tribunals and our processes.
Legislatures and Parliament have begun to pay attention:
Federally, the Justice and Human Rights Committee has a motion before it to examine the Canadian Commission’s mandate over hate on the Internet – a forum we welcome for this dialogue.
In Alberta, the recent passing (June 2, 2009) of Bill: 44, the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act maintained the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s role over hate, but not without a chorus of ‘boos’ from the far right.
Not all HRCs have separate commissions and tribunals – in Alberta they don’t, for example. But it’s irrelevant. If the kangaroo prosecutors and the kangaroo judges work in different buildings, does that really make the process so much more legitimate?
Lynch is not above a little name-calling herself -- or is that hatemongering?
But my favourite part here is how Lynch calls the opponents to Bill 44 – the law in Alberta that failed to repeal the censorship provision – “the far right”.
Now, first off, that’s just not factually accurate. The chief opponent to Bill 44 was the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics. Chumir was a Liberal and a liberal – in the best sense of the word. The Chumir Foundation is run by true liberals, like Janet Keeping – a deeply thoughtful woman who truly cares about real human rights. I spent part of a day with her at a conference in Halifax, and she told me of how she always visits the Magna Carta when she’s in London.
And the idea to repeal the censorship provision first came from Lindsay Blackett, a moderate Tory – who also happens to be black.
But to Lynch, Keeping and Blackett are the “far right”. Because it’s easier to denounce your opponents with name calling than to actually engage them – especially if they’re true liberals who care about human rights, like Keeping does and Blackett did.
But note also how Lynch uses “far right”. It’s a name she calls her political opponents. But it’s also the phrase that the CHRC uses to describe neo-Nazis they prosecute. She’s trying to anathematize her opponents using the same legal language she uses against her legal targets.
That shows you what this is all about: criminalizing dissent. If she could, she’d probably prosecute Blackett and Keeping, too.
Blackett and Keeping aren’t far right. They’re centre-left. But if Lynch thinks they’re far right, that tells you just how far off centre she herself is. Because if you’re a Marxist, even liberals look far right to you.
I bet Lynch didn’t use the phrase “far right” as an insult when she was begging Stephen Harper for her appointment to the CHRC.
In Ontario, the abolition of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Tribunal has become a platform issue in a current leadership campaign.
So now the CHRC is monitoring political campaigns and weighing in on them.
The human rights community has a responsibility to inform Canadians of the importance of our human rights system and the work yet to be done.
Again, Steyn nailed it: they care more about the “system” that gives them all jobs, than about real rights themselves.
Today, many Canadians’ perception of our human rights system has been, in large part, informed by the misinformation and spin of our critics. Many no longer see the connection between the societal values that they cherish and the organizations that are there to promote and protect those values.
But the CHRC isn’t promoting or protecting values like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and property rights – the things we went to war over. They’re actually eroding those rights. But, as always, the blame is on others, never Lynch and her mob.
By "balanced debate", Lynch means: she talks, we listen
I’m at 5,000 words, so let me skip to Lynch’s last line:
I encourage you, members of the human rights community, to speak out when you can on these issues. I also encourage you to use your skills and expertise to ensure that informed discussion takes place, and the manner in which it takes place is respectful of our human rights system.
When rights must be balanced, so too debate about these rights should be balanced, but it is not.
Lynch wants an informed discussion – but to bar critics who actually have concrete information to be banned from that discussion. She wants a discussion that is respectful not of human rights, but of the human rights system – translation: her job. And she wants the debate “balanced”. That’s code for predetermining the outcome of the debate.
This isn’t a balanced issue. Canadians aren’t split on freedom – we’re for it. A real debate wouldn’t result in a tie. Only a rigged debate would, which is why Lynch is trying to rig her debate, from garbaging Moon’s inconvenient report, to trying to ban me from talk shows.
This is a debate about censorship, and Lynch is losing badly. The fact that she’s now trying to rig the debate by censoring her opponents only makes the case against her more damning.
The Daily Kos is a large left-wing blogger collective in the U.S. that is a substantial faction in the Democratic Party's base of activists. Needless to say, I was delighted to find support for reforming Canada's abusive human rights commissions from them. But that goes to my point that freedom of speech isn't a right wing or left wing thing -- it's for anyone who cares about ideas and believes in the right to disagree with each other. And, more importantly, the right to disagree with the government, and megalomanic czarinas like Jennifer Lynch.
Here's the item. An excerpt:
Well, Canada’s empire of speech suppression has struck back, as George Lucas taught us empires are fond of doing. Apparently, all this criticism of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and their ways have led to a – drumroll, please – "chilling" of free speech in Canada.
At this point it seems important to note that, just like Dave Barry, I am not making this up. I’ll let today’s National Post editorial explain the bizarre thinking here:
Monday in Montreal, Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), launched a counterattack against critics who, over the past couple of years, have suggested the commission is out of control and should have its power to investigate alleged hate speech taken away from it...
[Lynch] also claimed that those who accused the CHRC and its provincial counterparts of "chilling" free expression with the prosecutions of writers such as Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were themselves guilty of "reverse chill." Harsh criticism of the commissions in the media had discouraged many of their supporters from coming forward to defend their missions, she said. Others who were brave enough to speak out had been subjected to withering personal criticism in opinion pieces and letters to the editor, so much so that "50% of interviewees for an upcoming book on human rights have stated that they feel ‘chilled’ about speaking up."
The thinking of Lynch is almost beyond my ability to mock.
Here's a friendly interview with Bernard Chapin from Pajamas Media, the large U.S. website alliance that include the great Instapundit. Some excerpts (from a 2,000-word item):
BC: Are the HRCs an example of a good idea gone mad or were they never a good idea in the first place?
Ezra Levant: I think it’s a good idea for us to get along, regardless of race or sex, etc. But most of life’s little grievances and setbacks are too trivial to be arbitrated by the government. We shouldn’t criminalize mere rudeness or offensiveness. And we shouldn’t dress up a political action committee as a neutral arbiter of justice.
...BC: Ezra, here in this country, we think of Canadians as being hardy, rustic, and good. What the heck happened to our neighbors over the last 40 years? Why is political correctness worse there than it is here?
Ezra Levant: Your First Amendment is the main answer. Were it not for that, I’m sure you’d have HRCs by now. And, the ACLU — despite its many flaws — is quick, forceful, and noisy in defense of “offensive” speech. We don’t have the same level of public interest law firms defending free speech up here. Finally: don’t get too smug. Many of your university campuses have strict “speech codes.” Some of your cities actually have hodgepodge HRCs. (Philadelphia’s HRC put Geno’s Steaks on trial for a sign telling customers to order their cheesesteaks in English.) And then there’s the biggest HRC of them all: the United Nations, which just passed a resolution calling on member states to criminalize “defamation of Islam.”
And here's a fun piece in Australia's Daily Telegraph, by Tim Blair, called "Frightened of Ezra". You can probably guess what he's talking about!
I'm pleased to report that Parliamentary hearings into the Canadian Human Rights Commission's censorship powers will begin today at 12:30 ET. They'll be televised.
Witnesses include Alan Borovoy -- and whatever lackey the CHRC sends this time.
I understand that Jennifer Lynch has refused to attend -- just like she refused to debate me on television. MPs who would dare to ask her questions are personae non grata to her, just like I am.
Princess Lynch is above answering questions -- it's so dirty. It's for the little people. And, surprise! She's busy on another junket, this one to the annual five-star human rights industry gala, in Montreal. Montreal is just 90 minutes down the highway from Ottawa. I bet you Lynch's expense tab for this getaway is more than $1,000. We'll find out soon enough. I wonder if she'll expense a visit to the spa?
I'm guessing Lynch will send that same useless intern she sent in her place to the CTV debate. I wonder if Lynch will give him the same instructions again -- not to answer questions.
Seriously: why the hell would Lynch stoop to answering questions from mere MPs? She's not in the debate business; she's not interesting in taking instructions from legislators. As her bizarre memo demonstrates, she's all about issuing the elected representatives of the people orders, and telling them what to do.
Here's the press release by MP Russ Hiebert announcing the hearings. Money quote:
We clearly have some serious problems with our current system, including the controversial Section 13 of our current human rights act which seeks to suppress some legitimate forms of speech, including freedom of the press.
No wonder Lynch is boycotting the hearings.
She should be subpoenaed, and arrested for contempt of Parliament if she refuses.
I'm still shaking my head over the Canadian Human Rights Commission's grotesque memo to Parliament. It's a political stunt -- designed to save Jennifer Lynch's job as chief commissar, and to protect the CHRC's North Korea-style powers of political censorship. It's an attempt to mau-mau Parliament into forgetting the CHRC's abusive and corrupt conduct.
Here's my Op-Ed in today's National Post on the subject. They've given it the headline "Appetite for censorship". I've put a few parts in bold:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has given itself another report card. The last one, released in November, 2008, didn't quite work out as planned: Professor Richard Moon, who was paid $50,000 by the CHRC to write a short review of its conduct, surprised everybody by calling for the repeal of the commission's censorship powers.
The CHRC immediately garbaged Moon's report. Its press release accompanying the report didn't even mention Moon's chief recommendation, and announced instead that a do-over review would start immediately. Needless to say, no outsider was trusted to write this one.
It's not surprising that the CHRC gave itself a glowing review this time. But what is remarkable is that, far from being chastened by the public condemnation its bad behaviour has provoked, the CHRC has called for even more censorship in Canada.
The CHRC already has a 100% conviction rate for censorship prosecutions -- no one in 32 years has ever beat the rap. That's not hard to believe when you learn that truth, fair comment and honest belief are not legal defences in human rights hearings -- the commission operates more like a kangaroo court than a real court that way. And look at how vaguely the censorship law is written: Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act says it's an offence to communicate anything "likely to expose a person... to hatred or contempt." The word "likely" is amazing: The CHRC doesn't have to prove you've actually done anything, just that you might in the future. And all they have to prove is that you said something that might cause one person to have hard feelings about another.
So it's not just a speech crime. It's an emotion crime, too.
That's an un-Canadian law, and it's an embarrassment that an organization with the words "human rights" as its middle name would be behind such an attack on our civil liberties.
What's new is the CHRC's suggestion that Canada's Criminal Code be stripped of its free speech protections, too.
Right now, the Criminal Code has a hate speech crime in it. But, unlike the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Criminal Code has important defences built right in. Section 319(3) specifically protects anyone who was telling the truth, or believed what he was saying was true. Religious views are specifically protected, too, as are other defences.
Pesky civil rights -- like the right to speak the truth -- are a big reason why police don't have a 100% hate speech conviction rate like the CHRC does. So in its new report, the CHRC suggests that the defence of truth be removed from the Criminal Code.
How perverse is that? A human rights agency is telling the police to reduce its commitment to civil liberties. Could you imagine a genuine human rights activist -- say, Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King -- calling for more power for the police and less for political dissidents? If a government agency like the CHRC had been around in the United States in the 1960s, or India in the 1940s, is there any doubt that it would have prosecuted King and Gandhi for saying things that "exposed" people to "contempt"?
But that's not all. Like obscenity laws, censorship laws are necessarily vague and subject to abuse by police and prosecutors. So, as an added safety measure, Criminal Code hate speech charges cannot be laid without the personal approval of the Justice Minister. The CHRC calls this an improper "barrier" to prosecutions, and asks that it be removed.
That's not surprising. At the CHRC, there is no oversight --no internal affairs committee, not even a written ethics code.
It's astounding that an organization as dysfunctional as the CHRC would have the hubris to tell Canada's police forces how to do their business. It's depressing that its advice to police forces is to strip protections for civil liberties out of our Criminal Code.
This report is the second PR exercise the CHRC has bought in eight months. It is spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on damage control, including $15,000 to pollster EKOS and $10,000 to lobbyists Hill and Knowlton. Real courts don't spend money on pollsters and spin doctors. But real courts aren't held in as much public disrepute as the CHRC.
We've heard more than enough from the CHRC. It's no longer a civil liberties organization. It's a self-perpetuating industry full of empire-building bureaucrats, global junketeers and political bullies.
Now it's time for Parliament to act. There is multi-partisan support for Parliamentary hearings into the CHRC's censorship powers and its operational misconduct.
When real civil rights groups -- from the B'nai Brith to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association -- say the CHRC is broken, then you know it's time to fix it.
I've had a lot of amazing people read Shakedown -- including two Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. One reader I admire deeply is Christopher Hitchens. Imagine my delight to learn that he recently sent the following comment about Shakedown to my publisher:
I was at a low moment, and beginning to fear that our adversarial culture was dying and the open society was losing its will to resist, when Ezra Levant showed that every citizen has the birthright of a little spark, and a grown-up duty to kindle that spark into a flame. Let the bureaucrats do their worst: the tongue and the word are chainless and nothing is sacred except this freedom above all.
What a great honour -- and what a powerful encouragement to all of us to continue fighting the good fight.
If I knew how to put a poll on this blog, I'd do it, but I don't. So I'll just ask the question, and you can answer in the comments:
What is Jennifer Lynch's biggest PR blunder?
I can think of a few. Is it:
1. Her attempt to force CTV Newsnet to blacklist me from a TV panel tonight?
2. The CHRC's disastrous conference call with Joseph Brean, where they whispered to each other on the speaker phone and read out bigoted insults about blacks?
3. Richard Moon cashing his $50,000 cheque from the CHRC -- and then calling for the repeal of their censorship powers?
4. Lynch's $100,000 junket binge, including luxurious trips like these? (Say, Jen: are you flying first class so you can keep all of those Aeroplan points for yourself? Are you declaring them as a taxable benefit?)
5. Or... your suggestion here! Let me know in the comments.
As long-time readers will recall, last summer Jennifer Lynch panicked. The chief commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission wasn't in Canada a lot then -- she was on a string of five-star junkets around the world, "studying" human rights -- but when she was in town, it was all bad news.
The CHRC was being investigated by the RCMP.
The CHRC was being investigated by the Privacy Commissioner.
The CHRC was under attack in the House of Commons, through private members motions such as Keith Martin's.
The CHRC was under attack in Parliamentary committees, through Rick Dykstra's resolution.
And then there was the daily shellacking the CHRC was getting in the press -- even from liberal NGOs, like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and PEN Canada.
So Lynch did what she does best: she spent your money. She spent $10,000 on Hill & Knowlton, a lobby firm, to ask them what she should do. That sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but remember this is an outfit that burns through $25,000,000 a year -- or half a million dollars a week.
They told her to create her own fake review, to get out ahead of the four independent reviews. And they told her to hire Richard Moon, a University of Windsor professor who had already written publicly that the government ought to have a role in censoring the news media. The esteemed professor had actually written that the government should have the power to command media companies to print things they don't want to, in the name of "fairness". In other words, it was Mohamed Elmasry's fascist dream come true!
Moon's reputation for censorship -- combined with the CHRC's $52,000 payment for just 42 pages of writing -- should have given Lynch what she wanted: a whitewash of the CHRC's bad behaviour.
Instead, to everyone's surprise -- especially my own! -- Moon cashed his cheque and called for a repeal of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the censorship provision so loved by Lynch and her mob.
(That was the only good thing about Moon's report; the rest was a Soviet-style mush of censorship and libel chill that, in a more robust academic environment, would have made him a civil liberties pariah. By the way, here is my list of a few dozen questions I sent to Moon for him to ask and answer. He didn't answer them.)
I laughed when Moon's report was released: the official CHRC press release not only didn't mention his chief recommendation, but it also announced another slap-dash, home-made review would be done to replace Moon's unacceptable conclusions. That second report was finally released yesterday -- the second whitewash attempt in eight months by the CHRC. (And no more messing around with mere lobbyists. Lynch dropped a cool $15,000 on polling to test her new spin. Question: do real courts hire lobbyists, spin doctors and pollsters? Or just political hacks running kangaroo courts?)
Here's the new report. If Moon's cost $52,000 plus $10,000 in lobbyist fees, what do you think the newer, larger, poll-tested report cost? $100,000?
Mark Steyn, Jay Currie, Kathy Shaidle, Blazing Catfur, Debbie Gyapong, Rob Breakenridge and others have some excellent observations. Even B'nai Brith -- the Official Jews who are, right now, prosecuting an HRC censorship case in British Columbia -- came out with a strong denunciation of the report. (I've heard the phrase "two Jews, three opinions". But BB's Frank Dimant does better: "one Jew, two opinions".)
This was my instant response to the Canadian Press today:
Conservative pundit Ezra Levant, who has written a book on what he calls "abusive" human-rights bodies, said the commission should have listened to Moon.
"The CHRC is ignoring its own hand-picked expert's advice to get out of the censorship business," he said. "Why did taxpayers pay $50,000 for that expert's recommendations, if the CHRC was just going to throw it in the garbage?"
He said the commission essentially exonerated itself.
"That's unacceptable. We wouldn't allow any other police force to investigate themselves after a scandal, so we shouldn't let the Thought Police investigate themselves"
I've done some more thinking about it since then, and I should have an Op-Ed on the subject in a major newspaper to point you to, soon.
The CHRC's report is grotesque -- as Steyn points out, even the name of the report is a lie: Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Hate in the Internet Age. Freedom of expression is indeed a true civil right; but "freedom from hate" is not. You don't have the legal right to stop someone feeling a certain way about you. And even the qualifier "in the Internet Age" shows the shallowness of the CHRC's thinking. Freedom of speech is an eternal, natural right. It is the same now as it was in John Milton's day and, frankly, the advent of the Internet doesn't change a thing. As Debbie points out, the CHRC has cooked up some Third World, UN-ish claptrap about a "Matrix of rights" replacing our old ideas of fundamental freedoms like free speech. I've heard or read a dozen official speeches given by CHRC honchos, and they always come back to that theme: they want to replace our British tradition of freedom with some new UN version of human rights -- a watered down, nanny-state replacement for our real heritage of liberty.
I'm just going to focus on subject that I haven't seen elsewhere yet: the CHRC not only wants to keep its section 13 censorship powers for itself, but it also wants to strip legal defences of free speech from the Criminal Code's hate speech provisions.
As readers know, truth, fair comment and honest belief are not defences to section 13. How could they be? The test is someone else's feelings. Is something you've done "likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt"? Truth has nothing to do with it -- it's a feelings crime.
No wonder it has a 100% conviction rate.
But the Criminal Code provisions actually have some real defences built into them. (As I pointed out in the Star the other day, those defences were inserted by Saul Hayes of the Canadian Jewish Congress. How bitterly disappointed he would be in his heirs, who now seek to remove those provisions.)
It is a defence to a criminal charge of hate speech if you were speaking the truth; or thought you were; or were expounding on a Biblical passage, etc. None of those defences exist to the CHRA's section 13. But they're there in the Criminal Code.
And the CHRC wants Parliament to get rid of those defences.
Seriously: the CHRC is now telling Parliament not just to leave their own censorship powers intact, but to expand the powers of police and prosecutors, too. The CHRC -- whose middle name is "human rights" -- is actually lobbying to reduce the commitment to civil liberties of our police and prosecutors.
Stop for a second. Could you imagine real human rights heros -- Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King -- arguing that police should have more power, and political dissidents have less, and that truth and honest belief shouldn't be defences to thought crimes?
This is a scandal in itself: that the CHRC is now lobbying to make police more brutal and less considerate of real human rights. This passage alone should cause the termination of Jennifer Lynch, and a house-cleaning of her ranks.
But that's not all. In the same passage of their report, the CHRC complains that there are not enough Criminal Code prosecutions -- and they blame the Justice Minister, who must personally approve all such prosecutions.
It's another small check and balance to the natural instinct of police and prosecutors. We've seen what unbridled, unregulated prosecutorial power has done to the CHRC itself -- you have the abuse of the system by Richard Warman, who has gamed the system, and turned it into a personal vengeance machine wherein he files complaints against his Nixonian enemies list. If section 13 prosecutions needed the permission of the Justice Minister before they were prosecuted, Warman's spree of complaints would never have got off the ground -- his bizarre conflicts of interest would have scotched that, not to mention his membership in neo-Nazi organizations.
Right now, a Justice Minister has to take political ownership of Criminal Code prosecutions for speech. It's not much of a safety net -- I bet a lot of Justice Ministers would love to crusade against their definition of a "hater" -- but it's more than nothing. It's not just the Minister whose "no" could stop a prosecution. As the request moved up the bureaucracy to the Minister, any skittish staffer (or merely someone who cared about freedom) could probably stop the prosecution. And then there's the discipline that merely knowing the Minister is involved would bring to any cop or prosecutor thinking of pulling fast one.
Simply put, getting the Minister's approval is indeed, as the CHRC says, a "barrier" to more censorship prosecutions.
And they want to change that.
So to sum up: we've got a Canadian Human Rights Commission that thinks censorship is some sort of "human right". It is so operationally corrupt that it thinks issuing a report card about its own behaviour is legitimate conduct for a government agency. It so despises the public -- and holds their intelligence in such contempt -- that it thinks the country will forget that Prof. Moon has already recommended that their censorship powers be repealed. It is so naturally Orwellian that it thinks it can invent counterfeit human rights, like the "right to be respected", merely by coining those forgeries, and dressing them up as "modern" "rights" "matrixes", and other such legal junk.
And the CHRC -- corrupt; abusive; without an ethics code; employer of a corrupt ex-cop; etc. ad nauseam -- now presumes to lecture real police and real prosecutors and real courts on how to run the Criminal Code. And the nature of their lectures is to demand a diminuition of our ancient freedoms, including the God-given freedom to even speak the truth.
What a disgusting document.
Fire. Them. All.
I was on TV Ontario last night, talking about human rights commissions -- for almost 20 minutes. I always like Steve Paikin's interviews -- they're fair but the questions aren't soft-balls. Frankly, I think slightly aggressive questions make not only for a more interesting show, but they sharpen up the interviewee. I thought it evoked some of my best responses to date. Judge for yourself, and let me know what you think:
Last Sunday I was on Michael Enright's CBC radio show, The Sunday Edition, debating human rights commissions along with Keith Martin, the Liberal MP, and a nutty professor called Lucie Lamarche.
You can listen to the show here -- it's the May 31 edition. The debate starts at about 1 hour and 12 minutes into the show.
Lamarche goes first -- and for about sixty seconds she actually made a little bit of sense. She even joked about the difference between HRCs and "real courts". She keeps it together for a little while -- and even pretends that she's "neutral" about whether the censorship provisions should be scrapped.
But she loses her grip at 1:25 when Enright challenged her on the lack of due process and natural justice in HRCs. Her first response is to dismiss the horrors of HRCs as my own personal story. When I pushed back, citing the very section of the Alberta act that allows warrantless search and seizures, and pointing out that targets of HRCs don't get legal aid, she just collapsed, saying that "discrimination is about attitudes... and transformation. It's not only about due process."
Oh. So to hell with the law or fairness. Guys like me need to have our attitudes transformed. It's not law. It's brutal politics pretending to be the law.
I like this Lucie Lamarche -- for her honesty.
After a few minutes of her reading her talking points -- likely authored by the battallion of PR flacks at the Canadian Human Rights Commission -- she just stops pretending that HRCs are about justice. They're about politics and propaganda -- making political dissidents like me conform to the "official line". And the high costs? That's just an additional punishment for our thought crimes.
Seriously: when she ran out of her prepared talking points, she said what she truly believed: this was about transforming attitudes.
Funny. I thought it was supposed to be about protecting real human rights -- like the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and thought and speech, no matter what busybodies of the state say you should believe.
Readers, do you think that Orwell or Solzhenitsyn would call Lamarche a defender of human rights, or a destroyer of them?
Do you think that giving the state the power to transform your attitudes is a protection of your freedoms, or an abridgement of them?
Do you think that Lucie Lamarche follows in the footsteps of dissidents who challenged the conventional wisdom, like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi -- or is she a descendant of the censors and bullies who tried to shut those two up?
At 1:36, Lamarche is at her most radiant. Are HRC trials too punitive? Too slow? Too costly? So what is essentially her reply. This from a professor of human rights. I can just imagine what it's like to be in her classroom.
Could you imagine her being so dismissive of the civil rights of, say, an accused terrorist? Of course not: it would be too judgmental and ethnocentric to ask a terrorist to transform his attitudes. But a mere publisher of cartoons? Fire away.
I've been blogging for about a year and a half, and by far the most enjoyable days of it were the ones I spent live-blogging Mark Steyn's show trial at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal last June.
I didn't enjoy the trial, of course -- it's not joyful to witness the Canadian legal system be brought into disrepute. I sat in a court house crowded with journalists who were stunned by the sham they were watching. As the Vancouver Sun's Ian Mulgrew wrote at the time, "The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is murdering its own reputation". Yet the three kangaroos running the show were oblivious to the scandal they were participating in. Or they knew, but they just didn't give a damn.
One of the reasons I enjoyed blogging from that trial was that it was the first time that the anti-Semites at the Canadian Islamic Congress had to face cross-examination for their conduct. Their anti-Semite-in-chief, Mohamed Elmasry -- who had boasted on national TV that all adult Israelis were legitimate targets for terrorist murders -- refused to take the witness stand, the coward. But bizarrely, his young protege, a Toronto law student named Khurrum Awan, took the stand in his place.
That, of course, is a procedure unknown to any court -- to have a stunt double doing your testimony for you. Awan wasn't the complainant; he wasn't a British Columbian, the jurisdiction that held the trial; he wasn't an expert in anything. He was just some guy who was testifying so that his boss, Elmasry, could avoid answering tough questions. The idea of sending in a proxy -- a PR flack; a stunt double; an actor; whatever -- to give testimony on behalf of the real complainant is novel in law. But then these kangaroo courts aren't run by real judges with real rules of procedure -- they just make it up as they go along.
My point is that it was an absolute pleasure watching Maclean's trio of top-gun lawyers tear Awan's buffoonery apart sentence by sentence. If I hadn't had the outlet of my blog, I might well have laughed or cheered aloud.
My favourite part was when Julian Porter, Q.C., got Awan to admit that he had been lying to the Canadian media for months when he had publicly claimed that he had said to Maclean's that their demanded "rebuttal" to Mark Steyn's article could be authored by someone that the Canadian Islamic Congress and Maclean's mutually agreed upon. Under oath, Awan admitted that was a lie -- he had demanded that Maclean's submit to an author of the CIC's own choosing. And, under oath again, Porter got Awan to admit that he also tried to shake Maclean's down for thousands of dollars, too.
It was like watching a snowman melt in a spring rain.
Well, I'd like to add an eighth instalment to my series. I missed it when I first read it in the Star's letter to the editors section (scroll down), but Mark Steyn points it out: Awan implies that he was the complainant against me and the Western Standard magazine for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Awan writes:
Ezra Levant accuses Canada's human rights commissions of censorship for investigating our hate-speech complaints about his publishing of cartoons depicting Muslims...
Uh, nope. The complaints against me were filed by a Pakistani Jew-hater named Syed Soharwardy, and Soharwardy's fellow censors at the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. Awan and the Canadian Islamic Congress had nothing to do with it.
Who cares, really.
But it's so curious: what is it about Awan that just makes him say or write anything -- anything at all -- no matter if it's true or not?
I can understand if he has an urge to lie. It's called taqiyya. But surely any intelligent liar would choose a lie that is not so easily check-able. Why lie about something that can be so easily disproven?
It's a small point. But it brings me back to the fabulous vivisection performed on Awan by Porter. And I guess it just gave me a fond trip down memory lane.
P.S. At Steyn's trial last year, Awan was revealed to be a non-party, non-expert, no-standing witness. And it was more bizarre than that. Awan was not only a stand-in witness for Elmasry -- he was co-counsel for Elmasry, along with Faisal Joseph.
Could you imagine: someone's lawyer (or articling student, to be more accurate), being a "witness" for his client, too? It's the definition of conflict of interest.
And then take that conflict of interest to the power of two: when Awan was testifying, he was being led by Faisal Joseph, Elmasry's other lawyer (and co-counsel with Awan). And -- here's the gorgeous part -- Awan testified that he was going to go to work for Joseph at his firm, as a lawyer.
1. Awan wasn't a party or an expert in any way. Yet he testified.
2. But he was also co-counsel for the complainant and party in the case, Elmasry.
3. The lawyer who examined Awan was Awan's co-counsel, Joseph.
4. And Joseph had offered Awan a job at his firm.
Just for fun, I went to Faisal Joseph's law firm, Lerners LLP. And Awan is not in fact working there -- see for yourself . Did he not do a good enough job at the show trial? Did the Lerners partners read about his antics, and scotch his job offer? Did Awan's serial lies cause them to disown him? Are Joseph and Awan still buddies? What's going on? Other than being an unimpressive emcee at CIC events , what's Awan up to these days? Is he even lawyering? The Law Society of Upper Canada directory suggests he's not .
A commenter points out, I'm wrong: Awan is indeed an articling student at Lerner's.
July? So just four weeks from now, economists think Canada's economy will start growing again?
And -- even right now, in the middle of the recession -- the Liberals and Conservatives are statistically tied?
But don't worry too much about Ignatieff.
I think the weakest phrase in political debate these days is "mean-spirited". When they call you mean-spirited, you know they couldn't come up with anything else better.
I refer to this column in the Globe and Mail by Lysiane Gagnon. It's her criticism of the Conservative Party's ads targeting Michael Ignatieff's record. You can see the comprehensive website at Ignatieff.me, which includes not only the ads, but dozens of other facts, including many newspaper clippings and even video clips.
Gagnon doesn't like them, for reasons of class and taste. I say that because she hasn't been able to find a single factual error in them. Like the rest of the press gallery that, three weeks after they were launched just can't seem to stop talking about the ads, Gagnon senses they'll persuade people -- people who, unlike her and her circles, don't have a Portuguese housekeeper and a place in France.
Fine. Negative ads aren't pretty, but Canadians are smart enough to judge for themselves. I think the Ignatieff ads are effective, because they bring to light facts that would startle most Canadians -- like that he has been away from the country for 34 years, and that he told Harvard he wants to go back there if he doesn't get to be Prime Minister. I think Canadians will find that information useful, if ugly. By contrast, the Liberals' laughable attack ads in 2006 simply made the Liberals look desperate and condescending. Remember this beauty?
I think part of Harper's success in 2006 and 2008 was that he managed to ignore the echo chamber of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and connect with severely normal Canadians -- even those who don't have Portuguese housekeepers. It was the Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons thing, and it will be again this time, too.
But there is one thing in Gagnon's column -- and in Susan Delacourt's jubilant repetition of it -- that ought to be responded to. Gagnon implies that the choice of the word "cosmopolitan" to describe Ignatieff was chosen deliberately by the Conservatives, and that it contains anti-Semitic undertones.
Delacourt goes further, and says it's a Stalinist term of denunciation.
Oh, those Conservatives! Scratch Stephen Harper -- the most pro-Israel, pro-Jewish prime minister in our history -- and you'll find an anti-Semite! Who else would choose the word "cosmopolitan"?
Well, Ignatieff did.
That's where the word comes from -- from Ignatieff's description of himself. Page 7 of his book, "Blood and Belonging", to be precise. "If anyone has a claim to being cosmopolitan, it must be me," he wrote. That's not hard to find -- it's sourced right there on Ignatieff.me.
It's fair game to call that criticism of Ignatieff undignified, something designed to appeal to Canadian who are -- how does Gagnon put it? -- "small minded". Could be. We'll see.
But it's not fair game to impute to the Conservative Party anti-Semitism in choosing that word, as both Gagnon and Delacourt have implied.
If I followed their lead, I'd call their commentaries "mean-spirited" and "negative attack ads". But I'm not -- I'll just call it par for the course for the liberal media.
Of course, as one astute commenter noted, Gagnon has used the phrase "cosmopolitan" herself, when trying to make a slur by euphemism. In this column, she used it as a code word for gay. Now she sees it as a code word for Jew. I think the liberal ladies do protest too much.