I've added the Free Mark Steyn! website to the Pundita blogroll under the heading "Canada Free Speech Brigade." The lone entry will surely raise eyebrows. Why didn't I also add links to Steyn Online and Ezra Levant and Deborah Gyapong and FreedomSite and -- and that's just the point. If I listed all the Canadian websites posting about restoring freedom of speech in Canada, the list would be a yard long.
Free Mark Steyn! is 'information central.' The site carries a daily scoop of news and opinion relating to Canada's free speech movement and related issues, and so it provides a gateway to all the newspapers and websites that discuss Canada's free speech deficit.
If you're reading this from Cairo or Shanghai you might sniff that you have no interest in the protests of people who already enjoy genuine democracy and a great measure of freedom of speech.
Let me answer you this way: if I told you the number and type of rights that Canada's government suspends in the name of defending multiculturalism but I didn't name the country, then asked you to tell me which country I was referring to you'd probably answer, "North Korea."
To put this another way Canadians don't actually have basic rights accorded under a genuine democracy; they have the illusion of such rights.
If you tell me that can't possibly be or you would have heard about it before -- it took wide publicity about a spectacular attack on the illusion to blow the lid off Canada's supposedly 'liberal' democracy.
The attack came in the form of discrimination complaints against Canada's only weekly newsmagazine, Maclean's, and while the complaints had been filed early in 2007 they didn't start to gain publicity until December.
Until then many Canadians didn't understand the extent to which they'd sacrificed their rights because until the Maclean's case, the state suspended basic Constitutional rights only for a tiny minority of Canadians: those who publicly expressed politically incorrect views that were roundly despised by the majority of Canadians.
However, suspending basic rights to defend political correctness is a slippery slope, as Canadians have now learned the hard way. So no matter where in the world you call home, you can learn much that's applicable to your country from studying the Canada free speech movement.
By the way, many Canadian FreeSpeechers are writing on freedom of speech issues in countries outside Canada. Yes indeed, there is nothing like discovering that North Koreans might have greater freedom than you to make you a big supporter of freedom of speech around the world. So if you have a rant about your country's problems with free speech, send it to Binky at Free Mark Steyn!
Aside to readers who keep up with news on the Section 13 War:
I think that Athanasios Hadjis will find in favor of Marc Lemire, thus skewing the 100% conviction rate of Canada's kangaroo courts. I know you'll file this under "Dumbest Prediction in 2008" but I arrived at it by putting myself in Hadjis's place while he presided over the March 25 tribunal hearing.
Even kangaroo courts have to keep up appearances, but on that day the complainants went out of their way to mock the process -- and they did so with knowledge that the hearing was open to the public and would receive wide publicity.
So, while a decision against Lemire has been read into Hadjis's impatient comments throughout the hearing that "We're done," look it from another angle. If you were Hadjis wouldn't you say, "We're done here," after you found your position publicly treated with so much open contempt by the complainants?
Also, I think that when Hadjis comes across Warren Kinsella's published fake photo of Marc Lemire, he may decide to acquit Lemire by way of teaching Mr Kinsella a lesson in how to be a human.
Yes, I am probably dreaming, but that's my prediction and I hope not to have to eat it come June when Hadjis rules.
On second thought, I might add Lemire's primary website to the blogroll. After all, while the vast majority his fellow Canadians were sleepwalking, he was wide awake and fighting for their Constitutional rights.
March 30 12:30 AM Update
As one somewhat experienced after years of litigation in the real courts,along with some of the quasi courts and tribunals, I believe I will be proven right when I say Chairman Hadjis last Tuesday was clearly looking to the end of the hearing so that he could retire to chambers and ponder how he could let Lemire walk away. For that reason I read the words "that's done", to be the equivalent to "let's move on" and finalize the proceedings.
As I have stated elsewhere, my take on it will be that he will find the conduct of the Commission investigators (including Warman) to be so egregious and offensive as to irreparably have tainted the entire process.
In consequence, he will be able to solemnly pronounce that because of the conduct of these individuals (and that is important) the Tribunal cannot see its way clear to accepting that Marc Lemire offended the Act and particularly Section 13 (1). He has the opportuntiy to cast Steacy and Riczk to the wolves and effectively blame their shameful investigative conduct and incredibility for the loss of the Commission's case, thereby saving the Commission and the Tribunal from the ignomy of further public approbation. After all, the only real loser would be Warman, wouldn't it?
That opinion is supported somewhat by my reading of the transcripts of earlier proceedings, particularly those involving the Section 37 objections to the requests to disclose information. He was very clearly vexed by the conduct of solicitor Vigna who seemed to posture his way through a "sick plea" to get the proceedings adjourned.
There is very little a Chairman can do in those circumstances, short of calling Mr Vigna a liar to his face, which of course would not do either in polite society or in a courtroom. Forcing him to continue despite his protestations could create the grounds for appellate review.
That said, Chairman Hadjis is no fool. If he condemns Lemire, he undoubtedly faces a review in Federal Court and further appeals to higher levels. In view of the offensive nature of the investigation, and the massive publicity surrounding this matter, he will do the prudent thing and put the matter to rest by simply acquiting Lemire of any offense under the Act: case closed once and for all with no Charter challenge.
The Commission will survive a bit of a bruising; the Tribunal will appear "just, fair and equitable"; and Lemire will walk away with empty pockets.
Gerald E Langlois QC