PJ Media

Canada’s Human Rights Kangaroo Court

Next time someone threatens to “move to Canada” over real or imagined Patriot Act overreach, present him with this scenario:

Having settled into his new Ottawa digs, your expatriate pal is reading his morning paper when a familiar name leaps off the newsprint: his own.

Turns out Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) investigators were trolling your friend’s neighborhood for unprotected wireless internet connections, and leeched onto his.

Why? So they could post racist comments under assumed names on “neo-Nazi hate sites,” then charge the site’s owners with … publishing hate speech.

That’s how your innocent friend’s name and address got read aloud — then hastily broadcast by Blackberrying bloggers and journalists — in open court, as evidence in one of the CHRC’s most widely publicized cases.

So now your left-wing expatriate friend is widely suspected of being either a neo-Nazi racist or part of a secret government entrapment scheme.

His phone starts ringing. It won’t stop for quite some time.

Kind of a buzzkill after all those (highly exaggerated) reports about “gay marriage” and “legalized pot” up here in the Great White North, eh?

On March 25 there were gasps in an Ottawa hearing room when testimony during Warman vs. Lemire revealed that just such Soviet-flavored tactics were being used during CHRC “hate speech” investigations.

Gasps are rarely heard during CHRC hearings — they’re normally not open to the public or the press. Macleans magazine sued to get columnist Mark Steyn access to Tuesday’s event, which had originally been declared in camera for somewhat shaky “security” reasons. (Steyn and the magazine face an unrelated CHRC kangaroo court case later this year, charged with “flagrant Islamophobia” for publishing an excerpt from Steyn’s bestselling book America Alone; the commission became Steyn’s de facto “beat” after he and the magazine were served in December 2007.)

“Free societies do not hold secret trials except for the most serious reasons of national security: mid-level servants of the Crown who get their jollies by posing as racists on unread websites do not fall into that category,” wrote Steyn before heading to Ottawa, adding, “I’ve been received in Buckingham Palace and the White House; I’ve passed the security checks at the Pentagon and the European Commission. … And yet I’m too big a security risk to be allowed anywhere near minor civil servants of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Why don’t they just cut to the chase and rename it the Human Rights Politburo?”

Set up in the 1970s to tackle housing and employment discrimination, the only “speech” crimes the HRCs originally investigated were those proverbial “No Irish Need Apply” signs.

Inevitably, the tribunals began exercising their quasi-judicial powers to enforce then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s new vision of Canada: multicultural, blindly tolerant, and trendily “progressive.”

In one notorious case, “a Christian printer [was] ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, [was] fined $5,000 for having refused to do so, and [was] left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself.”

That printer and others like him — almost always conservatives and usually Christians — including one Catholic bishop charged with “homophobia,” Steyn and Macleans, and the defendant in Warman vs. Lemire, have all attracted the CHRC’s ire because they’ve said or done something “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”

That’s from Section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Note that magic word: “likely.” No need to prove certain words or images inspired tangible hate crimes, like arson or assault. Rather, CHRC bureaucrats need merely deem it “likely” that persons unknown might commit such crimes between now and the end of the world. That’s “thought crime” meets “future crime.” And it is enshrined in Canadian law.

Oh, and the Human Rights Commission’s conviction rate for Section 13.1 cases? A Stalinist 100%.

Nobody’s ideal free speech poster boy, Marc Lemire of Warman vs. Lemire used to head the allegedly neo-Nazi Heritage Front. That there are more Nazis in the average Hogan’s Heroes rerun than in all of Canada didn’t deter the HRC from investigating Lemire, without warrants, and employing those other dubious “drive-by Wi-Fi” techniques described above — techniques that not a few observers of Tuesday’s kangaroo court have dubbed, well, “fascist.”

As Jonathan Kay observed in the National Post, “for an organization that is supposed to promote ‘human rights,’ the HRC’s agents seem curiously oblivious to basic aspects of Canadian constitutional law. In one famous on-the-record exchange during the Lemire case, [CHRC lead investigator Dean] Steacy was asked ‘What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints? — to which he replied ‘Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.’”

“There must be a few genuine white supremacists whooping it up over at [the hate site] Stormfront,” Steyn wrote in his post-hearing dispatch, “but they seem to be thin on the ground. Mr. Steacy, the CHRC’s lead investigator, is a member of Stormfront; Richard Warman, celebrated Canadian ‘human rights’ crusader and plaintiff on every CHRC case since 2002, is a member of Stormfront; and Sgt. Stephen Camp is a member of Stormfront.

“What proportion of Canada’s ‘white supremacists’ are, in fact, government employees? On a quiet day, chances must be pretty good that you’ll log on and find the joint deserted except for ‘jadewarr’ (Mr. Steacy) trying to entrap ‘estate’ (Sgt. Camp) while ‘estate’ (Sgt. Camp) is simultaneously trying to entrap ‘axetogrind’ (Mr. Warman).”

If only they’d all arrest each other and leave the rest of Canada, and the internet, alone.

Alas, it is not to be. Even if Section 13.1 is scrubbed from the law — as some lawmakers are demanding — or a Royal Commission is established to investigate the investigators, neither will happen for years.

Meanwhile, the Warman vs. Lemire decision is scheduled for June and Mark Steyn faces his first tribunal that same month.

Pat Buchanan’s comical nickname for my country, “Soviet Canuckistan,” is proving more accurate than he ever imagined.

Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury. Mark Steyn has called her new e-book Acoustic Ladyland a “must read.”