An interesting trend

[ ED NOTE: Also cross-posted to Vox Rationis and Heartless and Brainless. ]

[ UPDATE: Welcome Mark Steyn and Blazing Cat Fur readers! ]

Canada’s human rights bureaucracy has found itself in need of a stiff defence in order to maintain its own status quo. Good luck with that. But one interesting trend that I’ve noticed in that defence is, really, just one more indication of why that very bureaucracy being defended is in dire need of some serious reform.

Jennifer Lynch, the chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, is the prototypical example. For instance, despite inviting a ‘balanced’ debate on Canada’s HRCs, she has shown herself rather unwilling to actually have such a debate. Via Ezra Levant, months back: Jennifer Lynch tries to bully CTV into cancelling my appearance on the news:

This evening, Jennifer Lynch, the chief commissar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, tried to have CTV Newsnet kick me off their interview program Power Play, hosted by Tom Clark. To their great credit, CTV refused to be bullied — and it was Lynch who wound up off the show.

You can watch the episode here.

What an embarrassment Lynch and her CHRC have become to this government — and to all Canadians.

Here’s the story — it’s pretty simple. Lynch and I were both invited on Clark’s show to talk about the CHRC’s memo issued to Parliament this week. The CHRC is demanding that they be allowed to continue their censorship, and in fact arguing that Canada’s police should be more active in laying censorship charges, too. I wrote about the substance of it yesterday.

Lynch’s spin is that she wants to “start a debate” about censorship — how Orwellian is that? Well, CTV was happy to provide a forum for such a debate. But CTV made the honest mistake of thinking Lynch actually meant it. They didn’t realize that the CHRC’s idea of a debate is Lynch lecturing, and Canadians listening obediently.

When Lynch heard it would be me against whom she would have to debate, she tried to veto my appearance.

Read the whole thing here.

This was not an isolated incident. A little later, via Ezra Levant: Me vs. Jennifer Lynch — sort of — tomorrow on Roy Green’s radio show:

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.

Read the rest here.

And so there’s already a trend there. But that’s just one woman; albeit, the woman in charge of Canada’s federal commission on ‘human rights’. What about some other examples?

O.K. Here we go. Back when Mark Steyn and Macleans’ mag were being complained against before the CHRC, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the BC Human Rights Tribunal, one recurring irony was the repeated claim by the complainants’ representatives that their purpose in raising the complaints was to foster a debate – a debate which they subsequently avoided when it was offered to them by Mark Steyn himself.

Again, via Ezra Levant: We want to debate Mark Steyn, but only if Mark Steyn isn’t allowed to show up:

The Canadian Islamic Congress’s sock puppets demand a debate with Mark Steyn:

The intention was to engage Mr. Steyn about his views on Muslims… If only Muslims would use the avenues available in a free and democratic society to engage in civilized debate.December 8, 2007, Globe and Mail.

True to Canada’s tradition of free speech, we decided to engage Mr. Steyn in a debate about his views… We agree, which is why we asked Maclean’s for an opportunity to debate Mr. Steyn… This issue isn’t about attacking journalists or stifling free expression. It’s about ensuring that our media outlets provide a forum for open debate and argument. — December 20, 2007, National Post

True to Canada’s tradition of free speech, we decided to engage Steyn in a debate about his views… we asked Maclean’s for an opportunity to debate Steyn… It’s about ensuring that our media outlets provide a forum for open debate and argument.December 29, 2007, Calgary Herald

The complaint is based on the categorical refusal by Maclean’s to allow Muslims to respond and participate in a debate which intimately affects them. Canadians benefit when all parties are brought together, represented at the same table on equal terms. Extremists, by contrast, capitalize on perceived distance between the group they supposedly represent and the rest of society, so that no true dialogue can take place. — January 31, National Post

We wished to close the gap and initiate dialogue… Our complaint is based on the categorical refusal by Maclean’s to allow Muslims to respond and play a part in a debate that affects them… We believe in the benefit of having all interested parties engage one another on equal terms.February 9, 2008, London Free Press

When dialogue stops, we risk re-visiting some of our most shameful mistakes… We believe in the benefit of having all interested parties engage one another on equal terms. February 9, 2008, Toronto Sun 

Et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Mark Steyn says yes to a debate:

…we’ve put in a request to let me go mano a mano with the Sock Puppets. Don’t care how many there are: One, two, or all three. If Daniel Simard wants to come out of his hiding place, he’s welcome to join in for a grand reunion of the original Sock Puppet Four. I’d much rather go mano a mano with the real complainant, Mohamed Elmasry, but his mano is stuck up the Sock Puppets so I guess it’s unavailable.

We’ll let you know whether Steve Paikin’s gonna go for it. But, if they do, it’ll be 8pm Eastern tomorrow night. — 

The CIC’s sock puppets cancel:

Their main reason is that this is not what they have initially agreed to and that they would not have the time  to prepare for such a debate. The other reason they offered is that  their complaint is with Macleans’ magazine and not Mark Steyn personally.

Given this picture, I think we need to go back to our original plan of keeping the combatants apart. e-mail from TVO producer to Mark Steyn

Will TVO really let the sock puppets off the hook? I know Steve Paikin, the host, can handle the “combatants” — he was the outstanding moderator of the last federal election’s English language leader’s debate. He can handle a few law students and an author.

We all know Steyn can handle it.

So why have the Canadian Islamic Congress’s sock puppets declined? They need more time to prepare? They’ve been calling for this debate for four five months. I don’t think it’s that they need time to prepare. I think it’s that they don’t want a debate — they never have. They’ve wanted to make Maclean’s and Steyn submit to them and their Islamic supremacism that brooks no criticism. That’s what going to the human rights commissions was about. That’s what their Al Sharpton-style shake-down attempt last week was about.

Read the rest here. A debate did actually occur on TVO, although it was an impromptu one. You can see video of some of the show here:

Here are parts two, three, four, and five.

You’ll notice though, that even though the debate did occur, it basically had to be dragged out into the open on the part of the people who had been claiming the loudest that a debate needed to take place.

More of this behavior can be seen from Liberal activist and HRC apologist Warren Kinsella. From Ezra Levant ( I’ve been going through his archives, O.K.? ):  Kinsella the cowardly lion:

Over the past few days, Kinsella has been even more excitable and desperate than normal. He has been demanding that Mark Steyn debate him at a June 3rd event sponsored by the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa.

I can understand why: like me debating against Joe Volpe, Kinsella debating against Steyn would be a coup for Kinsella. Steyn is the big dog in Canadian media — both through his column in Maclean’s, but also on the blogosphere, where he has more traffic than any other political blogger in the country. (Kinsella ranks 21st, and is falling). Kinsella used to be interesting when he had access to the federal Liberal Party. That hasn’t been the case since Jean Chretien left, and it has stripped Kinsella of his strongest suit. Kinsella is occasionally funny, but more usually over the top. His schtick worked when he was affiliated with the prime minister of the day, no matter how tenuously. That’s just gone now. Of course Kinsella would like to debate Steyn. And I would like to debate Stephane Dion on national TV, too, but it’s not going to happen.

Kinsella has taunted Steyn:

C’mon Mark! You’re not afraid to debate little old me, are you?


we can safely regard Mark Steyn as a chickenshit.


Your hero shouldn’t be afraid, then, right? The Public Policy Forum will sponsor it, next month in Ottawa. I’ll agree to any format your hero desires.

The great man couldn’t possibly be intimidated by someone committing career suicide, could he?

I look forward to his response. He certainly lurks on my site enough, so I know he’s read my offer

and, my favourite:

Let’s go, tough guy. 

It’s all very compelling theatre, except for one thing: Kinsella was invited by the Public Policy Forum to debate me, and he refused, saying he’d debate anyone but me!

Last month, the PPF invited me to the debate, and I accepted. But then Kinsella backed down, claiming that his lawyer said he couldn’t. According to the PPF’s organizer:

Mr. Kinsella’s lawyer… weighed in with a list of people and issues where there were potential problems.

You’re damned right I’d be a potential problem — I’d cream Kinsella in a debate!

There are no lawsuits between Kinsella and me — though he’s blustered and bluffed enough, you’d think that he’d have filed one by now.

He’s not suing me, and I’m not suing him. Unless Kinsella was planning to defame me, there’s no “potential problem” — and even then, I’m sure I’d let him go, because his rage-aholic rants discredit himself more than anyone else.

So why does Kinsella need a lawyer to tell him not to debate me? I don’t think there’s a legal reason. I think Kinsella is scared. As Kinsella would say, C’mon Warren! You’re not afraid to debate little old me, are you?

The PPF isn’t a for-profit group; frankly, they couldn’t pay my regular speaking fee — I told them whatever they could chip in was fine. But I thought it would be a great debate in front of thoughtful people. I’m in the centre of the human rights maelstrom and Kinsella, well, he’s one of the only people who are willing to make the case for political censorship. Let’s argue.

But, Kinsella backed out — blaming his lawyer. (At least it’s better than his excuse he offered for not following through on his lawsuit against me — blaming his wife!)

I was a little bit surprised that the PPF didn’t tell Kinsella to buzz off. Kinsella was very rude and low-class — like demanding that the host of a party un-invite another guest, or Kinsella wouldn’t attend. But I didn’t want to make a fuss for the PPF, and a five-hour flight each way for me, for a one-hour debate that didn’t pay, wasn’t worth making a fuss over.

Read the rest here.

Are you detecting a trend so far? As I suggested when Blazing Cat Fur was running his ‘Be Mean To Jennifer Lynch’ T-shirt slogan contest, a good slogan for Lynch and her ilk would be the following:

‘”I’ll debate anyone, anywhere, after they’ve left the building”‘

I stand by that statement today. The hpocrisy is self-evident here. I mean, I’m no debater – I’m a lot better in print than I am in person – but it seems to me that if you want to have a debate, you should actually, you know, hold one when the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, you undermine your credibility. In the case of Jennifer Lynch and Canada’s HRCs, there’s not a lot there to undermine in the first place.


8 Responses to An interesting trend

  1. mbrandon8026 says:

    Good work, Walker.

    I like how you picked up on it and analyzed the data and pieced it together cogently.

    Keep it up.

  2. Thanks! I’ll do my best.

  3. Kevin Kindred says:

    It’s true that, for any number of reasons, we don’t see a lot of high profile debates on this issue. At least two reasons come to mind: first, the dearth of intelligent, high-profile advocates on the pro-censorship side; and second, the tendency of the high-profile advocates on the anti-censorship side to engage in petty, ad hominem attacks rather than principled debate. (The second may aggravate the first–at a certain point both sides seem to have abandoned the goal of justifying their position on the basis of sound reasoning.)

    However, I don’t know that the lack of high-profile debate means that there’s actually a lack of debate. For example, the head of our Human Rights Commission in Nova Scotia has participated in at least two local debates on the topic. These didn’t grab many headlines, but they were interesting (and civil) debates. I hope–but I don’t know–that similar smaller-scale debates are occurring in communities across the country.

    • I think you make a good point. I wasn’t aware that the Nova Scotian HRC chief had been involved in debates on the issue.

      But, even though it’s not a universal trend, I still think that there seems to be an odd trend for high-profile HRC staff or advocates to back down from discussion – another exception being Ian Fine, who had a pretty hard time of it when he sat on a panel with Keith Martin and Ezra Levant.

      Personally, though, I tend to think that if you’re not capable of handling a loudmouth, then perhaps you shouldn’t be in a place that will require you to handle a loudmouth – you know?

  4. Gary K. says:

    Yes, good post Walker.

    Unlike the decisons made by our various Canadian “human rights” commissions and tribunals, your entry is coherent and based on facts. These two qualities seem to escape the thought-based mechanism employed by our “human rights” commissions and tribunals. The fact is, they have no “thought-based” ideas in the mechanism they employ to persecute individuals – but rather, “knee-jerk” socialism is their method to marginalze its citizens.

    Fire. Them. All.

  5. rob says:

    An interesting article. Nice how you lay it out clear and simple. This could help inform those new to the issue of Canada’s HRC’s vs Free Speech and Free Thought.


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