I think you all know the drill.
First off, an unsigned editorial in the Keremeos Review reads: Canadian human rights commissioner has free expression wrong:
It is perfectly understandable that people disagree on how human rights statutes should be amended to best protect free expression. But a recent speech by Jennifer Lynch, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, should worry everyone for it reveals a serious misunderstanding of free expression.
To be fair, Lynch makes some valid points about the controversy over whether human rights agencies should have authority to punish offensive speech. Much, as she points out, of what has been said about human rights commissions is “inaccurate” or “unfair.” For example, commentators have suggested complaints about offensive speech make up much of the commissions’ work. In fact, in Alberta, such cases constitute one to three per cent of the case-load. Across the country, it is not much different.
Some critics have even claimed that discrimination no longer occurs, so human rights commissions have no “legitimate” work left to do. Tell that to the many women refused work or fired because they are pregnant. Legally, pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination, but many employers are good at making it look like something else. Aboriginal people, the disabled, gays and many others can provide plenty of evidence that discrimination, unfortunately, remains widespread.
But Lynch is wrong on some basic issues, most importantly on freedom of expression. She says that the “power (of words and ideas) while overwhelmingly positive, can also be used to undermine democracy, freedom and equality.” For that reason “Canada, and many other nations, have enacted laws to limit forms of extreme hateful expression that have very minimal value in the free exchange of ideas, but do great harm to our fellow citizens.”
In fact, most ideas are neither “overwhelmingly positive” nor harmful – they are trivial. It’s not only “extreme hateful expression” that has “very minimal value.” Just turn on the TV, go to nearly any blog or Twitter.
Why then is freedom of expression so important? Because it is too dangerous to let people decide for others what they can say or hear – except in a few limited circumstances, where the harm is serious, and irreparable or imminent, such as, yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.
Curtailing freedom of expression is no idle concern. For example, the reasoning behind the ruling that Reverend Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor violated Alberta’s human rights statute was abysmal, the penalty imposed on him absurd. Boissoin is banned, for life from expressing his sincere, religiously-founded opinion that homosexuality is evil. While I detest Boissoin’s opinions, giving a single human rights commissioner the power to shut you up forever because he or she thinks something you said is offensive or hateful is dangerously wrong. Boissoin’s views may have no social value, but what about the next visionary dissident with an unfashionable truth to tell?
Read the rest here.
Second, you’ve only got on week left to get your tickets for the ECP Center’s conference in Halifax. From No Apologies:
“Live Free or… Fight,” the ECP Centre’s first Eastern Canada conference takes place in less than a month (Sept. 25th-26th). Have you purchased your ticket yet or forwarded this notice on to friends and family in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland?
If not, please take a moment to do so now. Thank you very much.
Ezra Levant, Canada’s most articulate champion of our disappearing freedoms, will be our feature speaker.
Canadians who are even remotely aware of the changes taking place in our laws, our justice system and our public policy, know that we are seeing a direct assault on our fundamental liberties – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, etc. – and a direct assault on the public, cultural witness to Christianity in this land.
Unfortunately, many Christians have abandoned the legacy of a public faith – a legacy bought by many with great sacrifice – but, praise God, those who recognize the importance of a bold, public, gracious testimony to Christianity that is woven into the fabric of society are appearing from many corners in Canada. These people are joining you and others who have been pursuing this vision for some time now.
The ECP Centre wants to encourage, motivate and unite those visionary Christians in Eastern Canada who want to advance the vision of Christianity, not just as valid, BUT AS NECESSARY, to a free, a just, and a civil social order.
The naïve notion that Secular Humanism is a benign force is today giving way to a recognition that Secular Humanism is strident, intolerant and even totalitarian; a recognition that Humanism is a religion in its own right, and an ideology that is completely incompatible with freedom and incompatible with the Judeo-Christian foundation upon which Canada was built.
Through hate crime laws, human rights commissions, strict regulation of the airwaves, legislative activism on behalf of immorality, an activist judiciary and cowardly politicians, Canada is becoming more and more unfriendly to Christians and Christianity.
Join us at our upcoming conference to hear from Ezra Levant about how the human rights commission industry is strangling liberty by pursuing a censorship agenda.
You will also hear from Scott Brockie and Connie Fournier, both of whom have been victims of the hate crime agenda. Scott was dragged through the Ontario Human Rights Commission/Tribunal and the provincial courts. Connie is facing nuisance lawsuits over her bold fight for freedom in Canada.
Workshops planned for the conference will be led by Rev. Sean A. Taylor, a long-time champion for orthodoxy in the Anglican Church, Jim Hnatiuk, the leader of the Christian Heritage Party and Al Siebring, a Christian broadcaster and municipal politician on Vancouver Island.
At the conference, you will be able to purchase autographed copies of Ezra Levant’s book, Shakedown, in which he documents outrageous examples of abuses of fundamental justice by human rights commissions across Canada.
Read the rest here.
Third, Edward C. Corrigan writes for the Media Monitors Network: Is it anti-Semitic to defend Palestinian human rights?
All across Canada and in the United States, there is an organized campaign to suppress criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.
The campaign is especially strong on university campuses where many voices have been raised in support of human rights for the Palestinians.
One such example is the attempt to suppress the Public Interest Research Group, founded by Ralph Nader, at the University of Ottawa for their support for Palestinian human rights.
Similar anti-Palestinian campaigns have occurred at many universities in Canada including the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario and York University.
An attack against a student group that was sympathetic to the Palestinians occurred at the University of Western Ontario in 1982. The student group was refused official recognition because of its support for the Palestinians and for sponsoring Palestinian and Arab speakers. After this refusal a complaint was made to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
After a long battle, and with the support of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and its General Counsel Alan Borovoy, and a supportive editorial in The Globe & Mail, the Ontario Human Rights Commission compelled the University Students Council at the University of Western Ontario to issue a statement of regret and to ratify the student group. The refusal was deemed discriminatory against Palestinians and persons associated with Palestinians. (See “The Palestinian Question at the University: The Case of Western Ontario,” American-Arab Affairs, Summer 1987, pp. 87-98.)
Read the rest here.
Fourth, another ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Via CBC: Pilot wins Air Canada retirement case:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has ruled in favour of a Winnipeg pilot who was forced into retirement.
Raymond Hall is part of a group of Air Canada pilots called Fly Past 60, who formed to protest the company’s mandatory retirement age of 60. Hall was forced to retire last month.
On Friday, the Human Rights Commission ruled that Air Canada’s policy is unconstitutional.
Hall said the decision will affect all workers involved with federal industries including banking, telecommunications, aviation and transportation.
“I think it’s going to infuse older workers with a feeling of self-worth and dignity that their contribution to the labour force and their ability to terminate their employment at the date of their choosing is something that is finally recognized,” he said.
Air Canada, which also requires pilots over age 40 to undergo physical examinations every six months, has 30 days to appeal the decision.
No one from the company could be immediately reached for comment.
When asked if he plans to go back to work as a pilot, Hall said he has been nominated to run federally for the Conservatives in Winnipeg South Centre. If there is a general election called this fall, his work as a pilot will be put on hold.
But he called the ruling an important achievement.
“This is a triumph for those who value their human dignity and want to continue their employment, regardless of their pay status, beyond ages that are arbitrarily chosen by employers and unions to force them out of the workforce,” he said.
“It’s a really frustrating experience for people who have given their entire lives to a profession, to an occupation, to a company and then be told on the day of their 60th birthday that, ‘We don’t need you anymore, you’re not of any value to us. Go somewhere else.'”
More to come, I’m sure.