Well, it’s that time of day again, for me to talk about all of the people who have been talking about Jennifer Lynch and her wondrous multi-colour commission, with gratuitous mention of the various others commissions and commissioners currently mucking about in the Dominion.
First off, Ezra Levant responds to Janet Keeping’s article in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Personal attacks have no place in ethical debate. Here’s his response in the letters of the StarPhoenix: Exposing bigotry ethical:
In Personal attacks have no place in ethical debate (SP, July 30), Janet Keeping writes that I was unethical to call Jennifer Lynch, the head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, a “damned liar.”
But Keeping left out something important: I have, in fact, caught Lynch in a damnable lie. On July 11, she told the National Post that her staff members have never published hateful comments on neo-Nazi websites. But that’s not true, as Lynch knows.
At a March 25, 2008, hearing and elsewhere, her staff confessed under oath to making countless hateful remarks, including calling Jews “scum,” gays a “cancer” on society and for white police to discriminate against blacks and be loyal to “their race.”
Dean Steacy, who works for Lynch, even testified that he and six other CHRC employees have memberships in neo-Nazi organizations like Stormfront. Just to be clear here: These are people who are supposed to be fighting against Nazis.
It might be unethical to call her a damned liar if she hadn’t lied. It might be unethical to call her “execrable” if she were lying about a trifle, instead of covering up a systemic corruption of human rights.
Keeping also writes that it was unethical of me to note that, when I bumped into Lynch on Parliament Hill, she looked haggard. If I had seven Nazi members working for me, and had been investigated by the RCMP, the Privacy Commissioner and Parliament all in the last year, I’d look pretty haggard, too.
For me, exposing bigotry within our government is a higher ethical calling than staying silent so I don’t hurt some politician’s feelings.
I have to say I was surprised by Janet Keeping’s latest Op-Ed in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and in a few other newspapers. Keeping is the boss of the Sheldon Chumir Ethics Foundation, and she has been one of Alberta’s leading advocates to repeal the “hate speech” provision of that province’s human rights act — the provision under which I was charged.
Keeping has been an excellent ally, in part due to her impeccable liberal credentials. She was even kind enough to invite me to speak at a conference last year in Halifax, on censorship and the media. We had a chance to chat a bit that day, and she impressed me deeply, especially when she said she always visits the museum in which the Magna Carta is displayed in London, England. I bet you Jennifer Lynch, the chief commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, hasn’t even read that document, and if she did, she’d regard it as some bigoted “dead white man’s law”.
The precise title of that Halifax conference was actually about the media’s “right to offend”. I don’t think that I or any of the other presenters actually got around to dealing with “should” the media be obnoxious — we were all talking about the media’s right to be obnoxious — that is, the immorality of the government being the arbiter of obnoxiousness. I think we were all focused on the present peril — censorship — so we didn’t have a debate on rudeness and its remedies, a debate which is a luxury in a time of censorship.
As I have argued before, obnoxiousness (or offensiveness, to use a term preferred by HRCs) is something that the free market deals with almost instantly. First off, the marketplace of ideas is far less politically correct than government bureaucrats — and certainly less so than the media. When the Western Standard published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed back in February of 2006, the media went into Michael Jackson mode. Our readers? Not so much. They loved it. Going from memory, we had over 1,200 new subscriptions, and only a few dozen cancellations, all of which happened before people actually received the magazine. In other words, those objectors thought the cartoons were so outrageous and so pornographic before they even read it — that’s what the media frenzy led them to believe — so they quit the magazine pre-emptively.
People are interested in controversy. That’s part of what makes news newsy. They’re interested in the weather and tasty recipes too, of course. But they want to know about the clash of ideas. A degree of offensiveness — that is, ideas that offend other ideas, other dogmas — is one definition of news, and certainly it’s the definition of politics. It’s also the definition of “progressive” ideas — ideas that naturally replace, challenge or offend the status quo. Liberal ideas like equality for minorities were naturally obnoxious, rude and offensive to the status quo — that was the point, they wanted to change things.
The free market of ideas approved of our publication of the cartoons, overwhelmingly. And, if it didn’t, we would have paid a quick and just price: the loss of subscribers and advertisers, perhaps the quitting of staff, and, as a result, my termination as publisher at the hands of our shareholders and directors. All of which would have happened without the intervention of the state (and a lot quicker than the 900-day proseuction by the Alberta HRC).
Second, another female Vancouver dock-worker has alleged discrimination in Vancouver’s port, lodging a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. From the Vancouver Sun: Second female port worker alleges discrimination:
Another female longshore worker has gone public with allegations of discrimination at Vancouver’s port, saying she was fired for “being a woman” in a workplace that suffers from “systemic gender discrimination.”
Karen Suttie, Vancouver’s first female longshore worker in a position of authority, said that in 2007 a foreman directed two other workers, including a casual, to perform her job as a lead hand, a skilled position with extra pay. He told her to perform a low-priority job and then fired her when she insisted on doing both the newly assigned task and her regular job, she said.
Andy Smith, president and CEO of the BC Maritime Employers Association, said the case has nothing to do with discrimination and is merely a case of insubordination.
A week ago, another female longshore worker, Leslie Palm, publicly alleged discrimination at the port, saying work went to the men when hours were short. Palm has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Earlier this month, The Sun published details of a report produced for the local union by veteran labour arbitrator Vince Ready, detailing systemic sexual harassment at the port.
Suttie has filed a union grievance for gender discrimination resulting in wrongful dismissal and a complaint of discrimination with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. One arbitrator is hearing both issues.
Smith said Suttie’s original complaint about the discharge never raised the issue of sex discrimination. If the employer had a problem with a woman in that position, issues would have arisen sooner, he said.
“This is not an issue about the sex of the complainant,” Smith said. “This is about her behaviour and her insubordination.”
He said the employer association is facing just two cases of sex discrimination.
But Suttie said few women are willing to come forward. “The women are afraid.”
Third, Lazer Gurkow has an article up for Chabad.org on the presentation by Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidle, and Salim Mansur in Ontario a few months back. Here’s the article: Legislating Moral Conduct:
I recently attended a seminar on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. On the whole, the event amounted to a wholesale “Let’s Quash the Human Rights Commissions” extravaganza. But I must concede that the tone of the event was rather peaceful. The presenters articulated their call for abolition in reasoned, albeit impassioned, tones; their arguments a blend of thoughtful ideas and emotional appeal.
The idea of abolishing a body committed to the protection of human rights seems absurd to most, but I must admit that I found the arguments compelling. On the way home, my wife and I compared what we had heard with our Torah-based values and education. To explain our musings I must first share some of the more memorable remarks of the evening.
The panel consisted of three presenters: Mrs. Kathy Shaidle, the controversial blogger behind the blog “Five Feel of Fury”; Mr. Ezra Lavant, who was notably hauled before the Human Rights Commission for publishing the now-famous Danish Cartoons offensive to Islamic sensibilities, and subsequently exonerated; Salim Mansur, a published and well-respected professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario.
Mrs. Shaidle argued that protection of human rights has become a platform for political correctness. “You can have diversity or tolerance,” she stated, “but you can’t have both. Protection of human rights requires that the liberty of some be curbed for the benefit of others, and under these conditions a clash of conflicting rights is as assured as it is inevitable. The choice of whose rights we protect is usually rooted in political correctness, a sentiment that serves the most vociferous or populous of ethnic minorities. At the moment, for example, the Canadian gay community outnumbers the Canadian Muslim community, a reality that will eventually change for obvious reasons. Whose rights will the guardians of political correctness protect when that eventuality occurs?” she challenged.
She is right, I later reflected. Yet the Torah also mandates the protection of the innocent and that we provide for the poor. How does the Torah resolve this glaring problem?
Actually, I reflected, the Torah does not protect rights as much as it mandates obligations. It does not “entitle” the poor to my charity. Quite the reverse, it requires me to look after the poor. The Torah entitles neither me nor the recipient.
This entirely different paradigm completely avoids the confluence-of-rights problem and its resultant clash of entitlements. From the Torah’s perspective, there are no rights to protect. There are merely obligations.
From the ECP website:
The ECP CENTRE’s first Eastern Canada conference – in Halifax – is going to be an exciting event.
Canada’s pre-eminent Freedom Fighter Ezra Levant will be our feature speaker on Saturday.
You will also hear from two other champions of freedom: Connie Fournier of freedom blog, Free Dominion, and Scott Brockie, an entrepreneur who was dragged through Ontario’s human rights system by a homosexual activist, but who has lived to tell the story.
At this conference, you will learn about the ongoing assault against our fundamental liberties in Canada. You will learn about the necessary link between our Judeo-Christian heritage and our tradition of liberty. You will learn about the link between the love of one’s child and a parent’s commitment to pick up his sword in this battle.
If you are a freedom fighter, this conference will encourage and strengthen you in this difficult battle. You will hear from motivating speakers and you will be able to network with other like-minded attendees.
If you aren’t active in the battle for freedom in Canada, but you want to learn more about the need for more people working to advance Judeo-Christian ethics and culture in Canada, you will also want to be a part of this conference.
This two-day conference will include workshops. Christian Heritage Party leader, Nova Scotian Jim Hnatiuk, will be speaking. Al Siebring, a long-time broadcaster and now a municipal politician in B.C. will also provide a workshop, providing some very practical ideas for Christians who want to serve the people in their communities and honour God at the same time as a Canadian politician. We are waiting for responses from other invited speakers. A Conservative MP has also been invited to address the conference.
Christian and conservative organizations will be represented. We have other exciting plans that we hope to add as they become confirmed.
If you live in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island, we look forward to meeting you at our ECP Centre Live Free or… Fight “Ignite Our Culture” Conference on Sept. 25-26.
Fifth, Deborah Gyapong comments on the strange position of Canadian politics vis a vis the whole Catholic thing:
There’s no proof Liberals were behind the Telegraph Journal’s now retracted story that launched the Communion controversy, only rumors and speculation based on circumstantial evidence. I suspect the whole thing was Astroturfing, but you know these political machinations can get pretty complex and maybe some other party did it in order to make it look like the Liberals. Who knows. I mean, the NDP and the Bloc also have outreaches to Catholic voters. The NDP has taken a lot of Catholic votes away from the Liberals because of the party’s emphasis on social justice and has an active contingent of Catholic MPs. Same with the Bloc Quebecois.
It’s just odd that, as Biff points out, it is Liberal bloggers who jumped on this story, posted the YouTube videos and are still harping about the Harper’s putting the Host in his pocket.
Oddly enough, Michael Ignatieff, whose father was a devout Russian Orthodox, and who is a self-professed agnostic, is probably the most genuine pluralist of the bunch. From my experience of Ignatieff, he believes religious expression has as much right to the public square as non-religious expression. I have no reason to believe that his efforts through John McKay to invite religious believers back into the Liberal fold are not sincere. I know McKay has not been happy with previous attacks on Christians by members of his own party.
But I don’t think Ignatieff represents the views of the majority of his Caucus, or of the people who work for the party either as paid or volunteer members. Lots of people who were there in the days of Chretien and look back longingly to his astute and strong leadership, are still around and thus the anti-religious streak remains. Some may have leadership ambitions and are looking ahead to replacing Ignatieff if he fails to win the next election.
There have always been a valiant core of conscientious Liberals who have remained prolife and profamily despite the Liberal platform and despite the pressures to conform within Caucus. They are to be commended. But this is a relatively small proportion of the Caucus…about two dozen people plus or minus.
As a deeply religious voter, I do not feel my religious freedom is safe under a Liberal regime, Michael Ignatieff notwithstanding. I don’t think any of my civil rights are safe. This is the party that brought us human rights commissions, after all. While human rights commissions may have been a great idea in the beginning, they have morphed into ideology-driven censorship boards and persecution mechanisms of small business owners that have eroded the very foundations of Western civilization and our Common Law tradition. And did I say they have an anti-Christian agenda? That, too.
I do not find Ignatieff as scary as I found Chretien, as likeable and charming a man as he is. But lots of Chretien supporters are back now. They are still very active and it remains to be seen how strong a leader Ignatieff is—or how committed to principles he is. The problem with politics is that so many who get into the business will say or do anything to get into power or stay in power.
But Harper also has a problem. As some of my socially conservative friends ask, what does he offer us? He has shut down any chance of reopening the abortion debate, despite the fact that a majority of Canadians are not happy with the present free-for-all on the unborn. He did not mount the vigorous defence of marriage we hoped for. He has done little to nothing observable on the abuses of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. (Though I believe the CHRC has been reined in considerably under Jennifer Lynch, though obviously not enough.)
Meanwhile, check out Michael Coren’s new book; of electromagnetic sensitivity and human rights law; old friends of Barbara Hall; a Lorne Gunter redux ( Lorne’s article also noted by the Gates of Vienna ); the dirty laundry of Patrick Brazeau ( scroll down a bit ); and don’t tell Jenny.