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  • Canada's Star Chambers

    I notice many folks here laugh when I say Canada is a totalitarian state.

    This is from the Tyee, a paper that some Canadians will recognise here as a thoroughly leftist scribe (or perhaps the moderate and sensible views), and their take on things.

    http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/12/13/MarkSteyn/

    As soon as word got out last week that the Canadian Islamic Congress was planning to haul Maclean's magazine and author Mark Steyn before three Canadian human rights tribunals for the offence of subjecting this country's Muslims to "hatred and Islamophobia," the thing went viral, as pretty well anyone could have predicted.

    In New York, alarms rang non-stop at the rightist National Review. In Britain, sensible pleadings emanated from the leftist Guardian newspaper. A recent column in Jewcy, an otherwise intelligent and deservedly popular American web magazine, was headlined: "Toothless Canada Borrows Crescent Fangs."

    For all this, we could just blame Steyn, a prolific, witty and incorrigibly conservative writer because the fulcrum of the current rumpus is an excerpt from Steyn's book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. Its weirdly Malthusian thesis more or less holds that Muslims are taking over the world and Europe will soon be peopled only by guillotine operators and women wearing tents instead of proper clothes. The excerpt was published in Maclean's under the headline "The Future Belongs to Islam," and it appeared in October 2006.

    But the Canadian Islamic Congress says the book excerpt was the last straw, just "one in a string of articles that are anti-Islam and anti-Muslim," written mostly by Steyn and by his fellow columnist Barbara Amiel, that Maclean's published between January 2005 and last July.

    In the 70-page "Maclean's Magazine: A Case Study of Media-Propagated Islamophobia" that forms the basis of the Canadian Islamic Congress case, Maclean's is charged with "engaging in a discriminatory form of journalism that targets the Muslim community, promotes stereotypes, misrepresents fringe elements as the mainstream Muslim community, and distorts facts to present a false image of Muslims."

    The congress announced it was filing complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. Which caused a lot opinionators to become unhinged.

    This ain't the USA

    Let's leave the caterwauling to other people, take a deep breath, stay calm, and have a look at what's really new and really disturbing about all this, and what isn't new at all.

    We'll start with what isn't new.

    Canada is not the United States. We have no First Amendment here. Canada's Constitution affirms our rights to free speech, but we've never had such cause to be so afraid of our government that we wet our trousers at the suggestion that it's okay to reserve to the state some authority to limit free speech.

    Hate propaganda, the low to which the Canadian Islamic Congress now accuses Maclean's and Steyn of having stooped, actually does cross the Canadian "free speech" limit, and strays into what Canucks have long considered criminal conduct. So we haven't suddenly fulfilled the fears of Yankee paleoconservatives and degenerated into Soviet Canuckistan. We've actually been like this for several decades already.

    It was the Canadian Jewish Congress that first put the hate-propaganda proposition to the House of Commons, formally, in 1953, and hate speech was finally prohibited by the Criminal Code, after much parliamentary deliberation, in 1970. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the prohibition's constitutionality more than once since the promulgation of the 1982 Constitution Act.

    Also, for a long time now, Canadians have regarded the much-dreaded principle of "multiculturalism" as an important value that is properly taken into account when we ponder thorny questions about our fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of speech.

    This is not a proposition found only in weird post-modernist scholarly journals. Multiculturalism has been official federal policy in Canada since 1971. More importantly, the affirmation of multiculturalism as a defining national characteristic is entrenched in Canada's Constitution. It's been there for a quarter of a century.

    So, the Canadian Islamic Congress, "in order to protect Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance," as it claims, is engaging in a time-honoured Canadian tradition by seeking a legal disposition of the question about whether Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine have committed the offence of waging propaganda against an identifiable group, in this case, Muslims. Right?

    No. Not right. And this is the part that's new, and not just a tiny bit disturbing.

    The Criminal Code prohibits any incitement of hatred against any identifiable group that is likely to result in a crime. It also prohibits the willful public promotion of hatred against any identifiable group. Break this law and you could find yourself in prison for up to two years.

    But the Canadian Islamic Congress isn't using the Criminal Code to go after Maclean's and Steyn. Any reasonable person who reads the 70-page brief that forms the basis of its complaint will see why the case is being taken to human rights tribunals instead. It's because there's absolutely no way a criminal charge would hold up.

    The Criminal Code's hate-speech provisions make plain that you can't be busted for statements that are true or for the expression of an honest opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a religious text. Statements relevant to the public interest and for the benefit of the public, and reasonably believed to be true, are free and clear of the hate-crime law.

    But at the mercy of the human rights tribunals where the Canadian Islamic Congress wants them summoned, Maclean's and Steyn are not assured of any recourse to the defences the Criminal Code's hate-speech provisions provide.

    The Canadian Islamic Congress isn't engaging in an entirely groundbreaking strategy -- tribunals have been used in hate-speech and incitement cases before, to useful effect, against Nazis, white-power lunatics, holocaust deniers and gay-bashers. But filing these sorts of complaints with human rights tribunals is a growing trend, and it's pushing the tribunals into terrain they weren't built to traverse.

    Acts, not opinions

    You could say the Canadian Islamic Congress is steering the tribunals into a swamp more forbidding than any they've traveled before.

    The human rights codes that quasi-judicial human rights tribunals operate under in Canada were initially written to address acts, not opinions, and were expected to address only the most narrow restrictions on speech, such as advertisements or job postings that clearly discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities. As a rule, the thornier questions of fair comment, or intent, or truth, don't matter. What matters most is simply cause and effect.

    The Canadian Islamic Congress has instigated three separate proceedings under three separate human rights codes against a 102-year-old national magazine over the publication of an excerpt from a book, thereby inviting the tribunals to trespass upon free-press rights well beyond their competence. British Columbia's human rights tribunal has already scheduled hearings for next June.

    This entire escapade is not just a threat to Maclean's and Steyn specifically but to journalists generally, and also to pamphleteers, bloggers and just about anyone who might occasionally express a public opinion on a subject of public interest. It also threatens to invite the wrath of the Supreme Court of Canada, which should be expected if Maclean's and Steyn find themselves forced to fight this all the way up. The result could cause great harm to the credibility and the legal clout of human rights tribunals across the country.

    From Zundel to here

    Alan Borovoy, the widely-respected general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and a key architect of Canada's first human rights commission, saw this coming seven years ago. Back then, he warned of the very real free-speech threat we're now staring in the face.

    It's one thing to go before a human rights tribunal with a hate-speech complaint against a dangerous crank like Ernst Zundel, Borovoy said back then. Zundel is a fascist, and he was successfully prosecuted under Canada's Human Rights Act for inciting hatred against Jews. He fled to the United States, got deported back to Canada, was confined for a while under a security certificate, and was then sent back to his fatherland where he was tried, convicted and jailed earlier this year.

    "But a wise concern for human rights must address not only current cases but also longer-term implications," Borovoy told a 2000 gathering of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies. "In short, who else could be targeted under these statutes?"

    Well, now we know.

    The question isn't whether we like Maclean's, which has taken a decidedly pugnacious turn since editor Kenneth Whyte took over as editor in March 2005. Neither is it about whether suppressing hate propaganda is a good idea. It is a good idea.

    The question is whether human rights tribunals can sort through the necessary cacophony of utterances and statements in a free and open society in order to police vigorous public debates for commentary that is "likely to expose" religious, ethnic or other minority groups to hatred, contempt or discrimination. And the answer is they can't, and they shouldn't. That's not what they're for.

    Besides, human rights tribunals aren't competent to assess intent to foment hatred or contempt, much less define what these terms mean, and they aren't obliged to guarantee the defence of truth. The Canadian Human Rights Act, for instance, fails to allow for either the truth or reasonable belief as a defence.

    But in the realm of public discourse, truth matters, no matter how old-fashioned this sounds, and no matter how many post-structuralism discussion parlours will banish you for saying so. The truth that matters isn't some metaphysical notion of truth, or the kind of magical truth that is said to be culturally-dependent, but the commonplace kind that is revealed by objective facts.

    The free expression of opinion also matters, and sorting out the intelligent opinions from the rubbish ones requires a robust and free "marketplace of ideas" in which opinions flourish or wither according to the good sense of the people.

    The 'likely to expose' clause

    Certainly the marketplace is no utopia, and in Canada, it may well be that the news media is providing an especially dystopian ideas marketplace, as author and journalism professor Marc Edge has forcefully argued, most recently here in The Tyee. But that doesn't get us away from the peril of giving human rights tribunals the job of telling us which ideas are permissible, and which ideas aren't.

    Last year, in the middle of the "Mohammed cartoons" controversies, Borovoy again warned about the perils that lie on the road the Canadian Islamic Congress is now so boldly marching down.

    In a multicultural country like Canada, journalistic analysis, commentary and even pedestrian news reportage, on any number of global conflicts and controversies, will inevitably result in the publication and broadcast of things that are "likely to expose" some people, sooner or later, to somebody's hatred or contempt, on the basis of their religious beliefs, ancestry or place of origin. To take all that in, human rights tribunals would have to apply "a more general restriction against the transmission of certain news or opinion," Borovoy said. "Hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions."

    It's hardly what Canadians had envisioned for multiculturalism, either.

    When pollsters ask Canadians what they think of multiculturalism as a bedrock national value, most of us say we like it even better than hockey. We haven't had to be bludgeoned by political-correctness police to think this way. It comes naturally to us, and as uber-pollster Michael Adams has found, we're quite happy with it, thanks. Yes, we worry. And by "we," I'm including the 700,000-plus Muslims that the Canadian Islamic Congress claims to speak for, nearly 90 per cent of whom are foreign-born. Statistics Canada data and Environics polling results show that most of us think new immigrants aren't adopting Canadian values fast enough. But most of us also think that even though Canada has the highest rate of immigration of any country on earth, we're still not taking in too many immigrants.

    Newcomers continue to face a range of problems, including racism, but the vast majority of recent immigrants say they're happy they came and they're better off for coming. Their kids are actually doing better, economically, than children whose parents were born here.

    Nine of every 10 Canadian Muslims say they're proud Canadians, and almost as many think Canada is headed in the right direction. They explain their optimism in ways no different than anyone else: This is a free and democratic country and it's a pretty friendly place, besides.

    Canada's multicultural strength

    There are serious problems with Islamist radicals in Canada. The Muslim Canadian Congress -- which is routinely badmouthed by the Canadian Islamic Congress -- has had to point this out, time and again.

    Still, this is not Britain, with its radical core of Islamists bullies, where Westminster foolishly grants official-voice status to radical imams, and where the mayor of London is happy to roll out the red carpet for misogynists and homophobes. This is not France, with its rioting banlieues and its weird rules against headscarves and crucifixes in the classrooms. And this is not the United States, where paralysis sets in almost the minute a public debate involving race or immigration begins.

    These countries are better than us, in many ways. But in matters of multicultural harmony, Canada rides shotgun to nobody.

    The Canadian Islamic Congress says Maclean's magazine is trying to drive a horrible wedge between Muslims and everyone else. It says Maclean's is "attempting to import a racist discourse and language into mainstream discourse in Canadian society."

    If that's true, the magazine is doing a lousy job of it. The sinister plot is clearly not working.

    But the Canadian Islamic Congress can say what it likes.

    It's a free country.
    Scouse Git (2) La Fayette Adam Smith Solomwi and Loinburger will not be forgotten.
    "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for..."
    2015 APOLYTON FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION!

  • #2
    tld
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    Comment


    • #3
      1) Learn to quote
      2) Learn what Totalitarianism is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism
      (Hint: Any aspect of regulation does not totalitarian make)

      You fail, I am banning you for 4 months from this site.
      "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
      Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm not taking it down to bite size chunks for people who fail in reading comprehension.

        Then I'm sure people would accuse me of selective citing.

        RTFA.

        As for your citation, someone changed it to read "Totalitarianism = Hitler."

        Is the only source you can find wikipedia?
        Scouse Git (2) La Fayette Adam Smith Solomwi and Loinburger will not be forgotten.
        "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for..."
        2015 APOLYTON FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION!

        Comment


        • #5
          Little known fact:

          David Beers, the founder of this "leftest rag" Ben quotes from, was fired from the Vancouver Sun (a "rightest rag") for an incendiary and controversial editorial related to Muslims and freedom of speech in post-9/11 Canadian society.

          Sound familiar?
          "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
          Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ben Kenobi
            I'm not taking it down to bite size chunks for people who fail in reading comprehension.

            Then I'm sure people would accuse me of selective citing.

            RTFA.
            I am merely asking you to learn how to quote, not to censor.

            Why must you be a totalitarian?
            "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
            Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

            Comment


            • #7
              So, what source would you prefer?

              Macleans?

              Name one that suits your biases.
              Scouse Git (2) La Fayette Adam Smith Solomwi and Loinburger will not be forgotten.
              "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for..."
              2015 APOLYTON FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION!

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm just stating this is a bunch of hot air from somebody who makes a career with incendiary articles.

                The article is terribly written, long-winded. I stopped after two paragraphs.

                Find one written by a professional or at least provide a summary of the article.
                "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
                Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

                Comment


                • #9
                  I notice many folks here laugh when I say Canada is a totalitarian state.


                  Yeah, because calling Canada "totalitarian" is dumb. Me thinks you have no idea what the word means.
                  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
                  - John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_r...n%27s_magazine

                    There's been no ruling on this, so I can't say what the **** is going through your head when you say this is an indication Canada is a totalitarian state. Somebody took exception to an incendiary article by well-known douchebag Mark Steyne and it is going through the various court processes now, and you are pretending like this is the indications of a totalitarian state (which, by definition, control all aspects of life)?

                    You don't even understand the word and you've no clue what the context of this complaint is. Clueless, utterly clueless.

                    I am extending your ban to six months.
                    "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
                    Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You'll like this one.

                      http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/vide...gone_awry.html

                      Time was when "human rights" was a truly large and noble idea. I associate the concept with, and its birth out of, some of the great horrors of the past century: the bestial depredations of the Nazis, their 'race science' and death camps, the horrors of unbridled totalitarianism - under which, the whim of the rulers was sufficient to mutilate, torture and destroy lives, collectively or individually - send millions to arctic slave camps - the debasement of internal exile and psychiatric rehabilitation.

                      More currently, I associate real human rights advocacy with the case of a young Saudi woman, who very recently was repeatedly gang-raped - and then she – the victim - charged and sentenced by a Saudi court to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in a car with a male not her relative. The sentence, after international protest, was voided --- but that young woman’s case represents a real example of the violation of basic human rights.

                      What I do not associate with this deep and noble concept is getting ticked off by something you read in a magazine - or for that matter hear on television - and then scampering off to a handful - well, three - of Canada's proliferate human rights commissions - seeking to score off the magazine: this is what four Osgoode Hall law students and graduates --- a very definition of the 'marginalized' --- under the banner of the Canadian Islamic Congress have done after reading an excerpt from Mark Steyn's America Alone in Maclean’s. The complainants read the article as “flagrantly islamophobic”.

                      Maclean’s magazine? Well, we all know what a hotbed of radical bigotry and vile prejudice Maclean’s magazine has been. Go away … for what seems like a century Maclean’s was no more "offensive" (that is the cant term of choice these days) than a down comforter on a cold day and if Mark Steyn's article offended them: so what? Not every article in every magazine of newspaper is meant to be a valentine card addressed to every reader's self-esteem. Maclean’s published a bushel of letters following the article's appearance: some praised it: others scorned it. That's freedom of speech: that's democracy: that's the messy business we call the exchange of ideas and opinions.

                      But where does the BC Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Human Rights Commission come into this picture? Has anyone been publicly whipped? Has someone or some group been hauled off to a gulag? Is there a race frenzy sweeping the land?

                      Why is any human rights commission inserting itself between a magazine, a television show, a newspaper and the readers or viewers? Is every touchy, or agenda-driven sensibility now free to call upon the offices of the state and free of charge - to them - not their targets - to embroil them in "justifying" their right to write and broadcast as they see fit? The Western Standard magazine, during the so-called Danish cartoon crisis got hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for publishing the cartoons that all the world was talking about. The action drained the magazine’s resources - but it was free to the complainant.

                      Meantime real human rights violations - threats of death against Salman Rushdie, riots after the cartoons, death threats against the artists, the persecution of Hirsi Ali, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, neither inspire nor receive human rights investigations.

                      Maclean’s and its columnists - especially of late - are an ornament to Canada's civic space. They should not have to defend themselves for doing what a good magazine does: start debate, express opinion, and stir thought. And most certainly they should not have to abide the threatened censorship of any of Canada's increasingly interfering, state appointed and paradoxically labeled human rights commissions.
                      Scouse Git (2) La Fayette Adam Smith Solomwi and Loinburger will not be forgotten.
                      "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for..."
                      2015 APOLYTON FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        LEARN HOW TO QUOTE.
                        "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
                        Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's one from the National Review.

                          I've got plenty more Asher.

                          http://article.nationalreview.com/?q...0ODZjYjY=#more

                          Our readers know Mark Steyn well. His witty and learned commentary appears in every issue of National Review, and in many other English publications across the world. What Steyn’s American readers may not know is that a Muslim advocacy group in his native Canada is doing its best to muzzle him.

                          On December 4, the Canadian Islamic Congress announced that it had filed a complaint with three of Canada’s “human rights commissions” over an October 2006 article that Steyn had published in Maclean’s, Canada’s leading news weekly. “This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslims’ values, their community, and their religion,” said Faisal Joseph, an attorney representing the complainants, in a press release. “We feel that it is imperative to challenge Maclean’s biased portrayal of Muslims in order to protect Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance.”

                          The article in question was adapted from Steyn’s recent book America Alone, which argues that Western society may be irrevocably altered — and not for the better — by unassimilated Muslim immigration. It’s no surprise that this thesis is controversial, probably in part because Steyn makes his points so well. But the real threat to tolerance here is the CIC, which would have the state impose penalties on those whose writings it disagrees with.

                          In doing so it only provides evidence for Steyn’s thesis. Another group of Canadian Muslims — the Muslim Canadian Congress — has said as much, denouncing the CIC’s complaint for affirming “the stereotype that Muslims have little empathy for vigorous debate and democracy.” But at the moment, the CIC’s push for censorship advances. Of the three human-rights commissions to which it submitted its complaint, two have agreed to hear the case. (The third has yet to decide.)

                          Since their founding, Canada’s human-rights commissions have done less to protect the rights of minorities than to undermine the liberties of everyone. To get an idea of what they’re like, consider the recent case of Stephen Boissoin.

                          Boissoin, a Baptist minister, learned that the Alberta Human Rights Commission was funding an initiative that described homosexuality as “normal, necessary, acceptable and productive.” Boissoin objected to this and wanted to make his views known. As he put it to a Canadian Internet publication: “[I] felt that as a taxpayer, and indirect funder of this initiative through my tax dollars, I had a right to communicate my opinion which is reflective of my religious beliefs. In an attempt to do so, I decided to potentially share my opinion at large by submitting letters to the editor in newspapers.”

                          The publication of one such letter brought a complaint from a “social justice” advocate, and Boissoin was dragged before the very body he had complained about — the Alberta Human Rights Commission. That was 2002. It took five years of anxiety-filled and expensive legal proceedings for the commission to rule against Boissoin. They determined that he had violated Alberta’s laws because there was, as one commission member put it, a “circumstantial connection” between the publication of the letter and an incident of gay-bashing. “Circumstantial connection” is of course another way of saying that Boissoin had nothing to do with it. One wonders in passing whether the same can be said of the Koran, and which side the commission would take if Maclean’s published a few choice Koranic passages on homosexuality.

                          Even if the human-rights commissions eventually rule for Steyn and Maclean’s, the proceedings will be costly, and will intimidate others who wish to express controversial views. To his great credit, one conservative Canadian cabinet minister, Jason Kenney, has spoken in defense of Steyn. Some of the Canadian press is coming to Steyn’s defense as well. We hope the chorus swells.

                          And we hope Americans raise their voices too. So far the U.S. media have paid little attention to the case, but it should matter to us. Steyn’s writings — even those in Canadian publications — have a large and influential American readership. We trust those readers prefer that Canada remain free.
                          Scouse Git (2) La Fayette Adam Smith Solomwi and Loinburger will not be forgotten.
                          "Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for..."
                          2015 APOLYTON FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ben Kenobi
                            You'll like this one.

                            http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/vide...gone_awry.html
                            You are citing Rex Murphy, the same man who called (in all seriousness) the Premiere of Newfoundland a "dictator"?

                            That just about cements your case, doesn't it.
                            "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
                            Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ben Kenobi
                              Here's one from the National Review.

                              I've got plenty more Asher.

                              http://article.nationalreview.com/?q...0ODZjYjY=#more
                              LEARN HOW TO QUOTE.

                              The problem isn't LACK OF SOURCES, it's your LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD TOTALITARIAN.

                              It's also your LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE SITUATION.

                              And your complete GULLIBILITY TO SENSATIONAL RIGHT-WING LOON NUTJOB COLUMNISTS.
                              "The issue is there are still many people out there that use religion as a crutch for bigotry and hate. Like Ben."
                              Ben Kenobi: "That means I'm doing something right. "

                              Comment

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