Free Speech in Canada?

What mistake did these students make? They forgot to identify themselves as bombastic foreign Members of Parliament whom have provided material support to Hamas. Silly students… freedom of speech on the campus of a school at which you attend and live? Preposterous!

Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, Human Rights Commissions, the public works protection act, pro-life voices shut down on campus…

Is it time we had a serious review of how flexible our rights to speech and assembly have become in this country?

CRTC drops references to egregious abuses by HRCs from final report on broadcasting in new media

The CRTC released a report on June 4th, 2009 titled “Review of broadcasting in new media, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-329.”

However, on the CRTC website the following notice appears,

Broadcasting regulatory policy:

The Commission replaces the concurring opinion appended to Review of broadcasting in new media, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-329.

What was the amended document that with which the CRTC replaced the original? Here’s is the new version of the report:

What changes were made?

I’ve run a software-based PDF comparison tool on both documents and I’ve found that the documents are almost identical except for the following omission from the final version:

“The history of the regulation of speech in this country does not engender confidence that such powers will be used wisely. Canada has experienced several instances in recent times where regulatory commissions of another type and armed with a different mission have challenged the right to say controversial things. The struggles of Ezra Levant,14 Mark Steyn15 and others have served as important warnings that regulatory authorities charged with combating racism, hatred, and other evils have consistently expanded their mandates, have abused their powers and eroded fundamental liberties. Wherever there is official orthodoxy, disagreement is heresy, and where there is heresy, there is usually an inquisition to root it out. After centuries ridding ourselves of thought control agencies, 20th century Canada re-invented them.”

Now that’s interesting. Why did the CRTC feel that it was necessary to omit references to Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn’s battles with “regulatory authorities”?

Second interview with Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak is running to become leader of the Ontario PC Party. I had the opportunity to sit down (in Ottawa) and chat with Tim (at Queen’s Park) and talk about policy and politics.

In this interview I ask about the Harris endorsement, the membership snafu, Tim’s position on the HRCs and the LCBO and how he’ll continue building the party should he become the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

And then there were three

Christine Elliott is the latest to announce her entry into the Ontario PC leadership race following Frank Klees and Randy Hillier.  Elliott announced on Twitter just after midnight earlier this morning and will be doing some press soon to give detail of her plans.

I met Elliott just last weekend as she stopped by Ottawa to measure support for a potential bid.  I asked if she could differentiate herself from the other candidates and she replied, in obvious reference to Tim Hudak, that she’s not a career politician and that she brings “real-world” experience to the race.  Asked for an example of a public policy initiative she would highlight should she lead the opposition in Queen’s Park she replied that the PC Party should emphasize its strength on its mental health strategy for Ontario.  As for education which became the biggest snag for the party led by John Tory during the last election, Elliott conceded that vouchers and charter school would likely be off the table as something the party should champion over the coming years.

Randy Hillier also announced this week and exploded out of the gate with a very professional Hopey-Changey-styled website that emphasized three distinct policies that the former head of the Lanark Landowners Association would strive for in Ontario’s public policy debate.  Abolishment of the Human Rights Commission, Senate elections for Ontario and a “Freedom of Association and Conscience Act” (allowing individuals to opt out of activities in their professions which they find morally objectionable) are the policy initiatives that Hillier will be selling at the doors over the next three (three?!) months.  It is rumoured (though with some suspicion) that Hillier has already sold 2500 memberships.

Frank Klees, perhaps sensing that Hillier was set to announce on Monday, did his best to preempt the announcement by letting his intentions be known on Sunday.  The former Harris cabinet minister and well-liked caucus member disappointed some as he launched without much fanfare or campaign.

Another former Harris cabinet minister is also set to announce though it is unknown as to when.  The perceived (self-styled) front-runner of the race is Tim Hudak, who also has the backing of the former premier.  I attended a breakfast meeting with Hudak a few weeks ago and it’s not much of a scoop to tell you that he is lining up for a serious bid.  Asked then if he’d be announcing soon, he replied that for now he’s only encouraging a dialogue on the future direction of the party.  Of course, he’ll be entering soon, but he’s holding off for strategic reasons.  Like Fred Thompson in the 2008 GOP bid for nomination, an unannounced perceived front-runner can keep his name in the gossip of partisans and media alike by keeping the will-he-or-won’t-he chatter going, though like Thompson, withholding does not necessarily protect a candidate from flopping.  Though his allies in the party executive have engineered a short race in his favour, Hudak will still have to contend among a field of strong candidates.

Conservative staffers in Ottawa are split between Elliott, who is also the wife of federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, and Hillier who carries the true-blue banner of provincial conservatism for many in this town.  Many of the old pros and much of the provincial party establishment are lining up behind Hudak while the new pros are putting their chips on Elliott.

Rob Nicholson on section 13a

Here is P-203:

P-203 Modify HRC Jurisdiction PROPOSED BY VICTORIA AND KELOWNA – LAKE COUNTRY

iii) The Conservative Party supports legislation to remove authority from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The vote concluded at the plenary and passed. Nicholson voted “yes”.

Jason Kenney opines on HRC/Canadian Islamic Congress case against Steyn

Well-read and well-written conservative columnist Mark Steyn has become the subject of a “human rights” complaint filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress.

The complaint draws Steyn and Macleans, the magazine in which his articles appeared, into a lengthy proceeding in which the fundamental freedoms of the writer and the historic Canadian magazine could be suspended. If the CIC is successful in their complaint, both Steyn and Macleans could lose their freedom to publish and/or opine on certain issues.

Macleans had published an excerpt from Steyn’s popular book America Alone. In the excerpt Macleans quotes Steyn’s book:

“The number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes” — From America Alone, by Mark Steyn

However, likely unknown to the CIC at the time was that the offending quote was actually that of a Mullah Krekar, a Scandinavian Muslim.

Joining the Canadian Islamic Congress in asking the state to clamp down on press freedoms are four Osgoode law students. At one time, legal activism on civil rights would make a great start to any young lawyer’s career. However, legal activism against civil rights may not be the best career move. However, who knows, there is always hope in the Canadian legal system for a variety of activists, right?

Here’s a letter sent to one of those law students by Jason Kenney, Canada’s secretary of state for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity:

Letter to Khurrum Awan from Jason Kenney (.pdf)

The letter appears to be in response to correspondence sent to Mr. Kenney regarding statements he made defending press freedoms against those disingenuously flying the banner of human rights when the head of the CIC himself has, at other times, shown contempt for those rights.

In closing, Kenney seems to suggest that Awan may have acted inappropriately by signing his correspondence with “Judicial Law Clerk / Articling Student at the Law Office of the Chief Justice Ontario Superior Court of Justice. After all, it would be troubling if it was the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that a Canadian journalist has published material deemed not only offensive to the Canadian Islamic Congress and over-caffeinated il-liberal law students but to the judiciary.

In closing, Kenney asks:

“Were you writing on your own behalf? Or were you writing on behalf of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice? I have taken the liberty of copying Roslyn Levine, Executive Legal Assistant in the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice for clarification.”

The world needs more Ezra Levants

For those of you who thinks “he does not speak for me”, remember that when you cannot speak for you.

Here, Ezra is interrogated before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for publishing the Danish Cartoons.

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” — John Milton

“Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.” — Robert A. Heinlein

“The use of “religion” as an excuse to repress the freedom of expression and to deny human rights is not confined to any country or time.” — Margaret Atwood