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Friday, May 28

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Refuses to Enforce Section 13


Marc Lemire's challenge to the constitutionality of Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act has taken quite a turn. Edward Lustig, the presiding Member of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, adjourned a Section 13 case sine die pending Canada's Supreme Court ruling on Marc's case.

Unless the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) somehow gets around Lustig's decision, this seems to mean all pending Tribunal decisions on Section 13 cases are suspended until Marc's case is settled, which could take years.

For more information on Lustig's decision and an introduction to Section 13 see Marc's March 28 post at his blog. And see Mark Steyn's September 2009 A Landmark Victory for a summary of a Tribunal decision on Marc's Section 13 case, which allowed his constitutional challenge to Section 13 to proceed.

While pondering how much Marc has accomplished during his seven-year battle with the CHRC I found myself recalling something Mark Steyn observed about him earlier this year:
Different people react to "human rights" torture in different ways: Ezra Levant and I are oppositional by nature and by profession. You take a swing at us, we'll swing back. Go ahead, "human rights" punks, make our day. So is Marc Lemire, whose bloody-minded refusal to sit there and take it wound up inflicting more damage on the racket than anything else.
Yes. However, Marc is fighting much worse than a racket. On paper a democratic society is one governed by laws, not men. But what happens when the law supports an extrajudicial process in which truth is no defense? That is what happened in Canada with the enactment of the 1977 Human Rights Act, although it took years for the implications to manifest. A harbinger was a minor incident that played out unnoticed at the time by all but a handful of Canadians:
There might have been a pianist playing at Toronto's super-fashionable Courtyard Café that July 3 in the summer of 1978. Although probably not, given it was lunchtime. Still, those were more melodious times. Schools and airports had no grating security procedures. Canada's thought police were nascent and complaints to them could be smoothed out over a plate of smoked salmon.

I was sharing my salmon with the rabbi who had married me a few years earlier and had now been sent by his fellow commissioners on the Ontario Human Rights Commission to informally straighten me out.

The Manitoba and the Ontario human rights commissions had complained about an article I had written for Maclean's on the "British disease." The U.K. was lurching from crisis to crisis with strikes that left bodies unburied and bread unbaked. I had used the word "Huns" to explain British apathy as in "the Huns are no longer at the gate."

The word was clearly used in a historical context, but to no avail. In the bowels of Manitoba, a lobby group of professional grievance collectors found solace for my wounding word in Canada's up-to-date human rights legislation. I was, wie schrecklich, slagging off all German Canadians.

After a bout of correspondence I saw both [commissions] off but not before they had tried to get me censored, possibly fired, and all behind my back. Fortunately, then-editor of Maclean's Peter C. Newman felt I ought to be made aware of their complaints. ...[1]
As to where speech censorship in the name of protecting human rights leads, I think I explained that well enough recently with this example of Pakistan's blasphemy law in action:
In October 2000, Pakistani authorities charged Younus Shaikh, a physician, with blasphemy on account of remarks that students claimed he made during a lecture. The students alleged that, inter alia, Shaikh had said Prophet Mohammed’s parents were non-Muslims because they died before Islam existed. A judge ordered that Shaikh pay a fine of 100,000 rupees and that he be hanged. On 20 November 2003, a court retried the matter and acquitted Shaikh, who fled Pakistan for Europe soon thereafter.
All that stands between the hangman and you for speaking your mind are not laws but people who value freedom. If you don't understand that, by the time you comprehend the implications of Section 13 and Marc Lemire's battle with the CHRC, you will.

1) I feel like suing them myself but that's not the point; Barbara Amiel, Maclean's, January 9, 2008

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