Well, it’s that time again, for me to talk about all the people who’ve been talking about Jennifer Lynch and her wondrous multi-colour commission, with gratuitous mention of the various other commissions and commissioners currently mucking about in the Dominion.
First off, Claire Hoy writes in the Orangeville Citizen: Davis’s ‘abomination’ needs to be corrected:
Unless you’re 50 years old – or older – chances are the name Bill Davis doesn’t mean much to you.
But with the 30th anniversary approaching of Davis’s retirement as one of the longest-serving premiers in Ontario history, barely a week goes by it seems when there isn’t another event marking the occasion.
The general theme of all of these is that Davis, a moderate Conservative from Brampton, was a politician unlike all other politicians before or since.
The story goes that Davis never acted in a partisan way, was never personal or nasty in his disagreements with his political opponents and was, in a nutshell, a saint.
As one of a small group of journalists who covered his entire career as premier – and the only one to publish a lengthy biography on the man – your correspondent can tell you that there is some truth to the rumors.
Davis was not as selfless as he’s being portrayed – who is? – but he was certainly a Conservative like no other Conservative. That’s because he was a Conservative in name only, a man who never met a special interest group he couldn’t write a government cheque for, a man who, despite ruling in some of the most prosperous times in Ontario history (1971-85) never – not once – managed to balance his budget.
But the thing Davis is most often being praised for these days – instead of being condemned as he should be – is for the work he did in creating our current human rights commission, the antithesis of both Conservatism and justice.
The human rights industry actually began in Ontario – long before Davis was involved in politics – with the declaration of the Ontario Racial Discrimination Act in 1944, four years before the United Nations got around to its’ high-sounding but essentially hollow Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For many years the Ontario law, like the UN declaration, sounded great but didn’t amount to much. That is until the late 1970s when Davis, in his zeal to tap into Ontario’s growing “ethnic” voters decided to give human rights commissars, er, commissioners, some real power.
It’s been downhill ever since.
Initially, it was intended to police discrimination in jobs and housing – not a horrible ideal, although the system seriously undermined the concept of fair trials from the outset – but it has since expanded into pretty well every aspect of our lives, including taking upon itself the power to dictate appropriate editorial positions to various media outlets.
And nobody is more responsible for this horrible situation than Davis. Nobody. Thanks to the changes in the law he enacted between 1978 and 1981, human rights commissions continue to trample upon some of the most cherished principles of our historic justice system, essentially adapting the view that those unfortunate enough to be accused under these laws may as well go out and buy the rope for his own figurative noose, since his or her chances of escaping unscathed are virtually zero.
Second, the Canadian Association for Free Expression ( or CAFE ), has issued a petition. From the Freedomsite Blog: Petition to Repeal Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
[RadicalPress Comments: The Canadian Free Speech League, in regard to section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, has decided to initiate a petition, (below) which they would like all concerned citizens to take as their personal commitment to communicate with the Honourable Rob Nicholson at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
It is the CFSL’s proposal to have section 13(1) of the Act abolished. There is a growing awareness that this is a possibility, but Mr. Harper seems to think that he needs the constituency that supports 13(1), and he therefore is not likely to respond except to overwhelming public pressure. CFSL hopes that you will take the time to educate your friends, get them to sign the petition and then forward it immediately to Mr. Nicholson, but also send a copy to the Canadian Free Speech League so they know how many he has received.
The CFSL will then be able to publish the results of this petition, which they hope gives overwhelming support for the abolition of sec 13(1) so that the government will at last pay attention.
Please copy the petition and paste it into a file such as Word and print it off. Add your own ruled and lined second page with the Name (Print), Address and Signature. Please then send or fax a copy to the Canadian Free Speech League. See address and fax number below.
Here’s an opportunity to do something concrete to try and help Canada retain its fundamental right to freedom of speech. Please help out.]
The Honourable Robert Nicholson, P.C., Q.C.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Canada K1A 0H8
Re: Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act
Whereas Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act has been amended since the Taylor case as a result of the anxiety created on September 11, 2001.
And whereas Section 13(1) now applies to the Internet and all forms of communication on it, whether within Canada or not, whether true or not.
And whereas Section 13(1) now applies to all mainstream media on the Internet and all commentary on controversial issues.
And whereas the use of the Internet to receive and transmit alternative or dissident ideas and views is vital to prevent a monopoly by mainstream media.
And whereas the Internet is voluntarily accessible and must be searched to retrieve dissident messages and is imposed on no one.
And whereas the majority of Canadians are able to think for themselves and are otherwise entrusted in a democracy with many onerous choices, such as voting, abortion, religious affiliation or non-religious affiliation, driving, walking, reading, speaking, and thinking for ourselves, and are responsible for our own children to this point in time.
And whereas Section 13(1) allows no defence to an offensive statement, a bona fide religious opinion, or an honest comment based on true facts, and allows no right to expression of a defence of another ethnic or religious group, all of which are provided as defences in Section 319(2) (hate speech) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Wherefore, the undersigned adult, tax-paying citizens of Canada are resolved and agreed that Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act constitutes an insult to our intelligence, and delegates to a government bureaucrat of unknown political persuasion, the ability to decide for us questions, issues, and information we are quite capable of judging for ourselves. We are agreed this insult to our intelligence is open to abuse and has been abused by the bureaucracy of the Commission and its present and past employees, and no mere amendment of Section 13(1) could remedy this clear and present danger to our freedom.
Therefore, we hereby agree and demand that you, as Minister of Justice, should immediately, or as soon as possible, introduce legislation to repeal Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act as an unreasonable limit on our inherent and solemn rights of freedom of expression and contrary to our democratic and free society.
Third, the Shotgun Blog talks a bit about B’nai Brith’s cracking down on, well, everybody else’s use of Canada’s HRCs. Here’s the post: B’nai Brith Canada criticizes anti-Israel student group over frivolous human rights complaint:
B’nai Brith Canada is condemning the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University for following the lead of other anti-Israel organizations in abusing Canada’s human rights laws with what they are calling a “frivolous complaint.” The SAIA filled a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after the University removed posters B’nai Brith is calling “anti-Semitic.” The posters, which the SAIA put up earlier this year on campus advertising Israel Apartheid Week, accused Jews of murdering innocent children.
“The poster that this SAIA chapter put up was an affront and an offense to every person of goodwill,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada. “The university was truly justified in using its good judgment to ensure the poster’s removal.”
“It is obvious that this maneuver to involve the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is part of a new strategy being employed by those who wish to create a ‘legal chill,” continued Dimant. “This new strategy is being propagated by those groups that cross the line from legitimate criticism of a democratic Israel to promoting propaganda against the Jewish state and, by extension, the Jewish people.”
Fourth, more on the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench ruling in support of the Saskatchewan HRC decision against marriage commissioner Orville Nichols, from Sunlit Uplands: Canadian Court Hands Christians a Religious Freedom Setback:
From Mission Network News
A court decision in western Canada reveals the tenuous state of religious liberty in Canada.
Adele Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada explains. “Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench upheld the ruling that said marriage commissioner Orville Nichols did not have the right to refuse to marry a same-sex couple in April 2004 on the basis of his Christian beliefs.”
The tribunal had also ordered Nichols to pay the complainant $2,500 in compensation. According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada sources, Nichols appealed the May 23 ruling, arguing that his religious beliefs should be protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Justice Janet McMurty dismissed his argument, however, in her 39-page ruling dated July 17, concluding that the human rights tribunal was “correct in its finding that the commission had established discrimination and that accommodation of Mr. Nichols’ religious beliefs was not required.” Nichols has 30 days to appeal the decision. He has not indicated whether he will do so.
There is hope that the Saskatchewan government will introduce legislation allowing marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages for religious reasons. The government has referred two versions of new legislation containing a religious exemption to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to rule on their constitutionality.
In the meantime, Konyndyk notes that the ruling sets a chilling precedent for evangelical Christians. “Essentially the message that this sends is that his religious beliefs are to be kept private, and that he cannot make a decision in line with his religious beliefs.”
And Krishna Rau, via Xtra mag, writes: Keep public services and spaces out of the hands of religious groups:
A Saskatchewan court ruled at the end of July that a provincially-appointed marriage commissioner cannot refuse to wed same-sex couples.
In 2005, Orville Nichols refused to perform a civil marriage ceremony for two Regina men, who then filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. The HRC ruled Nichols had discriminated, fined him and ordered that he perform same-sex marriages when requested.
Nichols appealed, claiming that his deeply-held religious beliefs gave him the right to refuse. He argued that it was the government’s responsibility to accommodate his beliefs and to ensure other officials were available to perform same-sex ceremonies.
Justice Janet McMurty disagreed, ruling that “A public official has a far greater duty to ensure that s/he respects the law and the rule of law. A marriage commissioner is, to the public, a representative of the state. She or he is expected by the public to enforce, observe and honour the laws binding his or her actions. If a marriage commissioner cannot do that, she or he cannot hold that position.”
The ruling will probably be appealed, and the province seems determined to test the legality of legislation that would exempt commissioners from performing same-sex ceremonies on the grounds of religious belief.
Nevertheless, I find this ruling important. It confirms that cloaking it in “deeply-held religious beliefs” does not make opposition to same-sex marriage any less an expression of homophobic discrimination.
Second, and more importantly, the ruling clearly outlines that governments or individuals working for governments cannot discriminate based on religious beliefs. Government officials cannot force their religious beliefs on the rest of us. Now marriage may be relatively minor, but the ruling potentially could have far greater impact on healthcare or housing or social services, especially as those services are increasingly contracted out to religious organizations.
Meanwhile, a neo-Nazi witchhunt fetish; hated by all; an update on Roadkill Radio’s Freedom of Information efforts vis a vis the CHRC; the CHRC is ethically challenged; and more to Tim Hudak than meets the eye?