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June 07, 2008
MORE ON CANADA'S "HUMAN RIGHTS" KANGAROO COURTS:
Section 7 of the B.C. Human Rights Code is not compatible with freedom of speech and expression in Canada, and should be struck down by a court, if not by the tribunal.
"I'm not happy to be here," said Toronto lawyer Julian Porter, who is representing Maclean's. "We're not entitled under the law the way it's structured to plead truth, fair comment, qualified privilege or intent or standards of journalism."
Porter said that in the Supreme Court of Canada, truth or fair comment is a defence, but that test doesn't apply with the human rights tribunal.
Human rights commissions and tribunals were set up decades ago to deal with discrimination over access of services in housing or employment.
At the start, opponents of such tribunals were what criminologist John Miller called "wing nuts, the white supremacists or fundamental Christians."
No one had much sympathy for them when they complained about the tribunals. Now that Maclean's is targeted, the debate has flowed into larger, broader issues of constitutional rights of freedom of expression, Miller said.
Stupid wingnuts. Then there are the charges of evidence tampering by investigators.
And a prediction:
Goodness knows what the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will do with their hearing about Maclean's and Mark Steyn. Probably what they did with their 1997 case against North Vancouver columnist Doug Collins: Release the steam by calling them horrible people but not quite hateful enough to be convicted, then write in some judicial refinement for future use against less well-equipped defendants who have no powerful friends and can't afford counsel like Julian Porter and Roger McConchie.
Of course, the tribunal may not. They may go for broke, rely on the precedent subversive to free speech that's been handed down over the years by the Supreme Court of Canada and companion human rights commissions and convict Steyn and Maclean's of publishing something likely to expose Muslims to hatred and contempt.
But these are not silly people. Anti-free-speech, yes; silly, not at all. They have excellent survival skills, and knowing what a bollocks the week's proceedings would appear to a reasonable person, and how many reasonable persons know about it, they may well decide not to push their luck.
Their names and pictures should be widely published, along with those of the put-up complainants, as enemies of free speech and -- ironically enough -- human rights. They're commissars without, so far, a fully-functioning KGB. But it's not for lack of trying.
UPDATE: Canadians may be figuring things out.
MORE: "Canada's shame." A succinct and accurate summation.