Thursday, January 31

Listing of citizen rights violated under administration of Section 13 cases

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the reasonable limits clause in Section One and the wording in Section 15(2) give Canada's government sweeping powers to suspend the protection of rights named in the Charter. However, the administration of Section 13(1)(2)(3) of the Canadian Human Rights Act suspends such a broad scope of rights that it is an egregious offense to fair justice.(1)

Because Section 13 cases are "quasi-judicial," the government may deprive citizens of their right to fair trial, while at the same time government retains the right to impose penalties on citizens found in violation of Section 13. While this situation applies to all cases investigated by a human rights commission, Section 13 represents even broader suspension of rights than applied to other alleged violations of discrimination law:

1. Under Section 13, the government may launch an investigation on the basis of a complaint that public messages are "likely" to expose the complainant to hatred and contempt. At the same time, Canada's courts provide such a vague interpretation of "likely" as to render the term virtually meaningless beyond "remotely possible."

2. In the justice system, relief for this situation is found in the principles of "fundamental justice," addressed under Section 7 of the Charter, which can "void for vagueness" laws that do not to have a clear and understandable interpretation.

3. However, because the respondent in Section 13 does not have access to the justice system until the appeal process, and because the appeal process has so far upheld a vague interpretation of "likely, he must accept whatever subjective interpretation is made of the likelihood of his alleged violation.

4. The complaint need not specify an act of discrimination other than the wording of Section 13, which creates a "Catch-22" situation for the respondent that is so bizarre it tends to defy precise description. The respondent must somehow defend against an alleged violation that has not yet taken place, and which is only remotely likely to take place. However, the state may proceed on the assumption that the respondent is violating Section 13 because a complainant alleges this is so, thus providing prima facie evidence under the wording of Section 13.

5. The situation described in #4 deprives the respondent of relief under Section 11(d), which is the right to presumption of innocence until "proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal." However, because the respondent does not have access to the justice system during the Section 13 process, he is stripped of one of the most fundamental rights accorded citizens in a free society -- the presumption of innocence.

Indeed, the Catch-22 invalidates a key principle on which a rational justice system is founded and relegates Section 13 tribunal proceedings to the status of a mock trial.

* * * *

The above considerations do not speak to the other trial rights suspended under a human rights commission inquiry and tribunal decision process. However, points 1-5 above indicate that the suspension of trial rights under Section 13 metes out cruel and unusual punishment even before the penalty stage. In Section 13 cases:

6. The government retains the right to search and seizure without warrant during the investigation process, while the respondent does not have redress to the courts to protest.

7. Reportedly, at least one provincial jurisdiction (British Columbia) allows a human rights tribunal to summon witnesses while depriving them of the right to legal representation during the hearing.(2)

8. The principle of double jeopardy is invalidated; a complainant may file Section 13 complaints in different jurisdictions and do so even if his claim is denied in one jurisdiction.

9. An article in the February edition of Interim magazine summarizes the untenable situation for respondents in Section 13 by observing in part:
[N]ot once has an individual punished by these tribunals been found guilty in a court of law of an actual hate crime.

... [however] it is virtually impossible to defend against a human rights complaint. Normal rules of evidence do not apply: hearsay evidence is permitted, hearings can be held in secret, the accused usually do not face their accusers, and, most important, the presumption of innocence so vital in our common law tradition is suspended as the accused must prove their innocence.

... facts and truth are irrelevant to human rights tribunals. Reporting facts – statistics or anecdotes, studies or reports – or quotes is no defence if these facts cause offence [to the complainant].

Furthermore, tribunals can require guilty individuals to pay large fines, apologize, change their behaviour, stop expressing certain views or undergo sensitivity training. ... [in the justice system] not even murderers can be made to apologize to their victims ...
And, of course, a respondent can go to prison for refusing to accept the remedy decided upon by the human rights tribunals.

Being deprived of the right to trial while in effect under prosecution by the state suspends rights in addition to those discussed above; attorneys specializing in Canada's criminal and Constitutional law can surely add to the list.

The Interim article also notes that only citizens within historically marginalized groups may seek relief under discrimination law. And yet the affronts to justice represented by administration of Section 13 effectively marginalize Canada's democracy -- an act of discrimination against all Canadian citizens, and for which there is no relief under Canada's human rights code.

1) Section 13(1): "It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

Section 13(2): For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.

Section 13(3): For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter.

R.S., 1985, c. H-6, s. 13; 2001, c. 41, s. 88.

2) In the case of Mohamed Elmasry v Maclean's magazine et al., Mark Steyn "will be forced to travel to British Columbia and appear before the commission on June 3 to defend himself and his writing. He will probably choose to bear the cost of an attorney, but he will not be allowed to have the attorney present when he testifies before the commission." See Robert Ferrigno.

Hooray for Canadian MP Keith Martin!

Leonard at Stand Your Ground has announced that the Hon. Keith Martin has filed a Private Member's Motion, M-446, to have subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act deleted from the Act. This is great news.

I am preparing a list of Canadian rights I believe are violated by the administration of Section 13, which I plan to forward to Martin even though I am not a citizen of Canada. I hope the list will make a handy reference. I will publish the list at this blog at 3:00 PM Eastern Time today.

See Leonard's website for more information on M-446. Also see Ezra Levant's post on the topic.

Free Mark Steyn! advises Canadians to send a letter rather than an email to their MP, Keith Martin, and other Canadian government leaders to show support for the motion. FMS has additional advice here on how to support M-446.

Here is Martin's Hill Office address:

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Of course those in Martin's constituency can use his constituency address.

Wednesday, January 30

All the news that's fit to suppress

"Al-Jazeera International is completely separate from al-Jazeera Arabic."
-- Sir David Frost, 2006
January 30, 2008
Al-Jazeera's troubled English language news channel is facing a "serious staffing crisis" after scores of journalists left or have not had contracts renewed amid claims of a revolt over working conditions. [...]

Sources have added that executives on the main Arabic al-Jazeera network are trying to exert more control over the English language outlet, which is mainly staffed by western journalists.

One source said the al-Jazeera editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Hilal, was pushing for the English channel to take a more Islamic slant, quoting the example of the recent furore surrounding British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was arrested in Sudan for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

"He [Hilal] sent an email banning the story from being run on al-Jazeera English because it would upset Muslims," the source added. "It was only covered when there were riots in Sudan." [...]
I'll bet Sir David is not complaining about the size of his pay from al-Jazeera.

The Rise of Mordor: Archbishop of Canterbury calls for criminalizing of inadvertently thoughtless speech

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking. ... The Archbishop ... said it should not just be a few forms of extreme behaviour that were deemed unacceptable, leaving everything else as fair game.

“The legal provision should keep before our eyes the general risks of debasing public controversy by thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting,” he said.
The response from Terry Sanderson, President of Britain's National Secular Society, evoked that of a sane, law-abiding man tossed in a prison for the criminally insane. See the article for his full statement but to get you in the ballpark:
“The Archbishop’s speech is, at base, self-serving and dangerously illiberal,” Mr Sanderson said. “We certainly hope that the Government is not now going to bring forward something even more extreme as a quid pro quo for abolishing blasphemy.”
For readers who have followed my posts on Section 13, I swear to you I did not make up the Archbishop of Canterbury just to pound home a point.

But yes, the kind of thinking that created Section 13 is not limited to Canada. And no, Rowan Williams doesn't care how many democratic rights have to be sacrificed in order to prosecute the kind of law he's proposing. And he doesn't care how many years in prison a citizen would have to serve for uttering thoughtless words in public, and hang what this does to a humane justice system.

Why doesn't Williams care? Because he belongs to a secret society -- well, it won't be secret after I publish this post -- dedicated to promoting a movement among the world's governments. The movement intends to vastly improve on multiculturalism policy in the area of maintaining social harmony.

The movement arose in response to many causes and conditions, several of which Mark Steyn addressed in the except from his book that Maclean's magazine published in 2006.

The upshot is that many governments are overwhelmed with the task of educating and assimilating vast numbers of immigrants or educating masses of the poor in their own country. As Steyn pointed out, multiculturalism and its appeal for tolerance are not strong enough glue to bind immigrants to their destination country.

Also, when officials instituted multiculturalism policy, in many cases they overlooked that it takes a certain level of education and intellectual development to appreciate it, as well as long exposure to the feedback loop. All of that is what many poverty-stricken immigrants don't have. Ditto for tribes in places like Kenya that are ripping each other apart.

As to how the secret society came about, one day two wonks were sitting around chewing peyote. I won't tell you their nationality because I've ragged on the British enough this month. Eventually, they turned to hashing over the many failures of multiculturalism policy to achieve desired levels of social harmony. From there, they fell into brooding about looming anarchy.

Finally one wonk exclaimed, "If appeals to tolerance won't work, why don't we just get everyone to shut up?"

Thus, the birth of the neo-Neanderthal movement. The working philosophy is the essence of simplicity: Five grunts in a row, okay, but closing in on ten you may be facing a prison term.

The truth about the archbishop is not as fun as my version. Williams is a hard-left Leftist who clearly has little patience with the complexities of democracy. Reportedly Williams was elevated to archbishop on the hope that a hard-core Leftist leader of the Anglican church would attract to the church people like himself, of which there seem to be many in Britain and around the world.

Yet it would be wrong to consider Williams mere window dressing. His position gives him a big public platform in Britain and globally, and access to the highest levels of government around the world.

Williams's ideas for how to head off social unrest, at the expense of many human rights, are indeed part of a growing way of thinking in many governments. However, there is nothing secret about it. Factions in many democratic governments are seeking to impose laws that greatly circumscribe what the citizen can communicate in public, and especially via mass media platforms.

But just how would the state go about investigating, charging and prosecuting for the crime of inadvertently saying something thoughtless or cruel? The same way any police state does things. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, behind every Rowan Williams is a thug in a cheap leather coat holding a gun on you.

Tuesday, January 29

With friends like these Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant, and Maclean's magazine don't need enemies

There has been a big development in the Section 13 affair, and which might be the breakthrough I've been hoping for. So I am returning earlier to the fray than I planned. The development is that Ezra Levant dropped a bomb on a human rights commission's smoke-blowing machine.

I am tempering the good news with a grim warning to opponents of Section 13. I'll begin with a review of some recent published opinions on the Section 13 affair, and add my comments:

On January 26 Canada's largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, weighed in on the affair. The op-ed was written by Kelly Toughhill, a former Star reporter and editor and assistant professor at a Canadian school of journalism.

With the exception of one paragraph Toughhill's observations follow the path that is by now well-worn in published commentaries about the Section 13 affair. Here is the path in a few words: While I personally would never publish the Danish cartoons, and while I personally don't agree with Mark Steyn's comments, and while I personally think they're stupid bigots, Levant and Steyn have a right to express their opinions; everybody has a right to express their opinions no matter how offensive, and we shouldn't allow the human rights commissions to censor speech.

Toughhill briefly departs from the path after quoting the Section 13 language:
You don't have to counsel violence to be in violation of the law. You don't have to urge discrimination. You don't even have to express your own hatred of someone to break the law. All you have to do is expose someone to contempt.
Actually, to be in violation of Section 13 all you have to do is be held in suspicion that your comments "likely" expose someone to contempt.

But the point is that after noticing something truly terrifying about Section 13, Toughhill returns to the beaten path, leaving unexamined how many rights Canada's government would have to suspend in order to investigate and find against a citizen in alleged violation of Section 13.

The next day the 125 year-old Calgary Herald newspaper weighed in on the affair. Here, the editors do not beat around the bush; they confront how Section 13 is administered:
Common law defences of truth and fair comment are not allowed, the state picks up the bill for the complainant, and awards no costs to the defendant if he is found not guilty. Not that this happens very often; when the crime is causing offence, the allegation becomes prime facie evidence of guilt.
Then, astoundingly, after making those correct observations the editors hop onto the beaten path and stay there for the duration. They close with this monument to ostrich thinking:
By all means let commissions continue to settle tenancy and employment disputes. But, governments should relieve them of any power over Canadians' right to fearlessly say what they think. Legislation will have to be rewritten. So be it. Do it.
Earth calling Calgary Herald: what use is it to fearlessly say what you think, if you have been stripped of the presumption of innocence by a proceeding that functions outside the justice system, and which can send you to prison?

On the same day as the Calgary Herald editorial, Charlach Mackintosh, Chief Commissioner of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (where the Section 13 has been lodged against Ezra Levant) jumped into the fray. His letter to the Edmonton Journal, a version of which was published in the Calgary Herald, took issue with an op-ed by Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal that followed the beaten path of commentary. In the course of defending a Canadian's right to free speech, Simons made a blooper that deeply troubled Commissioner Mackintosh. Simons wrote:
[Levant's] right to be obnoxious and provocative is fully protected by the Charter. For the Human Rights Commission to haul him in to explain his actions and motives is a ludicrous and disturbing state intrusion on press freedom.

The irony here is rich, because Syed Soharwardy [who brought a Section 13 complaint against Levant] is a dab hand at being obnoxious and provocative himself.

In his own public pronouncements, he has accused Israel of committing genocide in Palestine and Lebanon, and the United States of committing genocide in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In January 2005, after the deadly tsunami, Soharwardy accused Christian missionaries of kidnapping Muslim children in Indonesia.

I don't like Soharwardy's opinions either. But they, too, are protected by the Charter. It is the test and the measure of our free society that we allow the free exchange of such ideas, even when they cause hurt feelings, even if they incite ethnic tensions.
We'll leap over Simons's display of moral equivalency and definition shuffling in her comparison of Levant's publication of the Danish cartoons with Soharwady's accusations.

And Simons is still on a steep learning curve about Section 13 and its background. If she keeps at it, eventually she'll learn that being obnoxious and provocative are not necessarily protected under Canada's Charter. Indeed, there is no right mentioned in Canada's Charter that cannot be swept aside by the state if a citizen's actions are alleged to create the likelihood of hatred or contempt toward a person protected under discrimination laws.

However, Commissioner Mackintosh was not intent on bursting Ms Simons's bubble. He was moved to write because of her use of the word "haul."
Simons writes of Ezra Levant being hauled before a provincial human rights commission staff member to answer a complaint against him and, in the process, raises concerns about the implications for free speech. I am concerned that her column may have created confusion about the role of the commission and the process, established by law, which it must follow when it receives complaints.

First, no one is ever "hauled" before a commission investigator. Individuals who have had a complaint made against them are invited to respond in person or in writing to the allegations. This opportunity is provided to ensure fairness in the process. [...]
Now we come to the part where Ezra Levant drops a bomb on the smoke-blowing machine:

After taking in Commissioner Mackintosh's assertion, Levant dashed off a post for his blog that explains precisely what the Canadian government has in store for citizens who refuse an invitation to a Section 13 proceeding.

Levant published the exact wording of sections 23 and 24 of the Alberta Human Rights Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, which describe the powers of the human rights officers to investigate alleged violations of the act. The wording is only slightly overlaid with legalistic language but just to make sure no one misunderstood, Levant summarized it:
Shirlene McGovern [the officer who interviewed Levant during a preliminary inquiry], or any other human rights officer, can come into my office whenever she thinks it's reasonable, to "examine" it.

No search warrant necessary. She can even come into my home, if she gets a court order -- but such a court order can be applied for and granted without notice to me. That's the kind of ambush usually reserved for getting warrants to break in on crack houses.

Again, without a warrant, she can take any documents I have, including on my computer.

Oh, and section 24(1)(c) allows for such search and seize orders to be granted not just against me but anyone else who refuses to answer questions put by investigators like Shirlene McGovern.

That's the power of these commissions -- before I'm even found "guilty".
So, yes, to be technical, Ezra Levant was not hauled into Officer McGovern's presence. But if he had not hauled himself to the meeting, possibly he would have been subject to search and seizure of his property. And if he had resisted, he would have been arrested.

Now that the smoke is clearing I invite Kelly Toughhill, the Calgary Herald editors, and Paula Simons to tell me what you see.

Don't tell me you see Officer McGovern and Commissioner Mackintosh. They didn't craft legislation that allows Canada's government to sweep aside every right listed in Canada's Charter in the name of protecting certain groups.

If you have trouble recognizing what you're looking at, let's go over some ground:

Realize there is no question that the CHRC will find against Maclean's because under Section 13 the accusation of guilt is the evidence of guilt. Go back again over the wording of Section 13 to understand why this is so.

All that the complainant in the Maclean's case had to do, to insure that the CHRC would find against Maclean's, was state that he believed a writing published by Maclean's would likely expose him to hatred and contempt. The statement in itself is the proof that Maclean's is in violation of Section 13. All the rest will be in effect a show trial.

So be very clear that while the CHRC has not agreed to hear every complaint brought to them under Section 13, this does not mean they couldn't have done so and in every case found in favor of the complainant. Indeed, every case they have proceeded with has found against the respondent. It could not be any other way, given the letter of the law.

Now tell me what type of state routinely conducts extra-judicial inquiries that allow search and seizure without warrant, which considers an accusation to be proof of guilt, and which has the right to impose penalties that include prison for noncompliance?

It's called a police state. If you tell me that Canada can't be a police state because there are no death squads -- you're only citing an effect of the police state, not the form of government that makes it possible.

Canadians have simply been lucky, for decades. Your government has shown its true face only to a miniscule number of the population, and who for the most part are socially unacceptable -- virtual pariahs as far as the majority is concerned. The kind who rave against minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Your luck ran out at some point in the 9/11 era. I suppose it ran out when Canada's security forces confronted the scope of the problem of extremists among Canada's Muslim community. It seems the decision was that those elements had to be kept placated to whatever extent possible, including downplaying public discussion among non-Muslims about Islamist terrorism and Islam. No new legislation was needed to enforce compliance. The laws were already on the books.

The upshot is that under Section 13, the government is moving from targeting pariahs to controlling the editorial policy of Canada's only weekly news magazine.

If you think you can right the balance of power by striking a few lines from Canada's Human Rights Act, you need to go back and study your nation's Charter.

If you're not ready to travel that hard road, and still want to help Maclean's and Ezra Levant fight for what should be their rights, you need to forgo your uninformed defense of the right to offensive language.

Section 13 is not about protecting people who claim offense. It's about protecting people from the fear that hate speech will make them a target of hate crime.

That protection should be under the jurisdiction of Canada's criminal law, which it already is. But the rationale for Section 13 skirts the criminal justice system. How did such investigation lose its mooring to the criminal justice system? By two steps:

First, the rationale rests on the argument that certain types of language can set off hate speech when directed at a member of a 'protected' group (e.g., a minority), which is discriminatory. Investigation of alleged discriminatory acts falls under the jurisdiction of the human rights commissions.

Secondly, establishment of criteria for a kind of 'quasi-language' that is not hate speech, but might lead to hate speech against a protected group. Thus, there does not need to be a discriminatory act to file a complaint. There only needs to be an example of the quasi-language suggesting the possibility that hate speech could arise from it, and thus might lead to hate crime.
What is the quasi-language? That is completely open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis.

If you tell me that's all gobbledygook, it was designed to be the Troll in the Forest. Go anywhere near it and you're lunch. The government does not want to be faced with putting out big fires, such as a race riot or a spate of hate crimes. So if they hear even one complaint or get wind of speech that falls into the quasi-language category, then hang the citizen's right to trial, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to free speech, and every other right in the Charter. Just stamp out the brush fire by calling up the troll.

Readers who are familiar with forest fire management might ask whether this approach doesn't lead to a conflagration down the line. Yes; fire management has learned the hard way that if you keep stamping out all the little fires, residential communities near an overgrown forest are in big trouble when lighting strikes dry brush.

In the same manner you can't kill a democracy in order to save it. The task, for interested Canadians, is to stress this fact to their government. The fact gets diluted if you ignore the main point in favor of expounding on the virtue of being tolerant of intolerant speech.

Yes yes, we should all be tolerant of speech that offends. But when you see fellow citizens staring at a prison sentence if they assert to the state that they will not go along with being penalized for a crime that has not occurred, you need to prioritize your arguments.

Saturday, January 26

Reply to huffy Batchelorite

In the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Department, I have received a complaint about my post earlier today. I added my reply as an update to the post but for readers who saw the original version of the post here is the reply:

"Yes, I know that Bill Roggio has also been a guest sometimes on the John Batchelor Show since John's return to radio. I am also well aware that Batchelor wrote the book on comprehensive, coherent, and consistent reporting on the war -- and I have mentioned that several times over the years on this blog. Yet John did this while he had three hours a night, five nights a week, to cover the news in the US and around the rest of the globe.

The Batchelor Sunday night radio marathon is indispensable for keeping up with important news around the globe. But when it comes to war news it is not a substitute for the daily show -- particularly at this time, when Batchelor is having to give considerable attention to the US presidential campaign and the worldwide credit crisis.

Clearly, the way to solve the problem is for John Batchelor to be returned to his daily show. That's a matter for Batchelor and the radio biz brass to work out.

But as I noted, [the earlier] post is for readers who have a serious time management problem. It was easy to keep up with the war when Batchelor was on the radio five nights a week. You could do other things while listening and be effortlessly well informed. That's not so today.

And everyone with sense realizes by now that this war is going to drag on for many years, if not decades. So what to do if you're trying to raise two kids, hold down a job with overtime, commute, maintain a comprehensive picture of the war, and still get in some sleep? [The earlier post] is my best answer at this time."

As an afterthought, I'm also aware that Pundita blog was mentioned on last Sunday's Batchelor Show for KFI; I didn't have a chance to listen to the live show but I heard the podcast today.

The mention came during Batchelor's discussion with Ezra Levant about the Canada Section 13 affair; Levant mentioned my observation that Section 13 investigations represent an indictment for pre-crime.

I'm glad that Batchelor picked up on the issue. I note he didn't pull punches in explaining the urgent importance of the Section 13 complaints against Levant and Maclean's magazine.

He said, "... if you speak badly of the enemy, you will be prosecuted."

Not quite yet, but that's clearly where things are headed in Canada and the United States, if more people don't wake up and fight the legal efforts to stop public discussion of news and issues related to Islamist terrorism.

Part of the difficulty of waking people evokes the initial reactions to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Towers. People couldn't believe what they were seeing at first, so they assumed it must be something else -- a technical malfunction of the plane, or something.

In the same manner, when people first come across the Section 13 complaints against Maclean's, I think their initial reaction is pretty much the same as mine. They can't believe what they're taking in, it's that bizarre.

So the tendency is to assume it can't mean that Canada's government is cooperating in quashing all public discussion of a matter of global importance.

It means exactly that.

For readers who are entirely new to the issue and want to learn about it, I warn that it has many moving parts and it's generated items of misinformation and disinformation in some published commentaries about it. The commentaries are mushrooming as I write these words. So, for orientation I suggest you go to my first post on the topic and click on the links I provide. Then you'll be well-positioned to follow the twists and turns.

You can also start by listening to the podcast of Batchelor's discussion with Levant. Scroll to the 1/20 Batchelor broadcast. The discussion takes place in the show's second segment.

If you want to keep up with how the issue is playing out, visit Mark Steyn's website; the three boxes at the top of the web page provide links to the latest commentary. And also check Steyn's archive of his own commentaries. To follow Ezra Levant's Section 13 case, you can also check at his website and start with this Levant post for more orientation.

How to be well-informed about the war on terror if you don't have 40 hours a week to invest in the project

There are many helpful "milblogs," and there are thousands of other internet sites that provide at least some daily mention of the global war on terror. But trying to gain a comprehensive picture of the war from the piecemeal approach is time consuming.

If you want to stay on top of news about the war and have little time to invest, you're well advised to check in daily at Long War Journal, Iraq Slogger, and to tune Mondays to the one-hour Loftus Report radio broadcast.

Long War Journal readers knew months ahead of others about the improving security situation in Iraq. And they knew months ahead of others that Pakistan's President Musharraf was cutting deals with the Taliban. LWJ's creator and editor, Bill Roggio, took flack from the Democrat side of the political aisle in Washington about the former reports, and took flack from Republicans about the latter. But LWJ is an independent, nonpartisan site with only one agenda: to provide accurate reporting and analysis on the 'ground war' offensives.

Last week Bill Roggio was the guest on a Loftus Report show. Bill and John Loftus spent an hour talking about Long War Journal, and analyzing the current fighting situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the war strategy, war reporting in the mainstream media, and General Petraeus. The conversation, which is available as a podcast, is a great introduction to Bill and LWJ.

By the way you don't need to mess with downloading; the broadcast archive, as with all others on the site, is available with one click and the podcast is conveniently divided into two half-hour segments (thank you, Chuck Boyce). And it's free.

Iraq Slogger will keep you abreast of the 'everything else' about the Iraq war: the political battles in Iraq and in Washington about Iraq, Arab opinion from outside the country about Iraq situation, humanitarian and social issues in Iraq, and the struggles between Iraqi militias, to name just a few of the situations that IS covers.

The site also provides daily round-ups of the best articles about Iraq in the US mainstream press.

In short, Iraq Slogger covers the entire nation-building and reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Slogger readers are also ahead of the mainstream press on much important Iraq news. I think I've noted before on this blog that if only Iraq Slogger had been available at the start of the post-invasion phase, everything about the war and reconstruction effort could have gone much better years ago.

Warning to Iraq war boosters: Don't expect a hopeful tone from the website; I think their motto must be: If it's going well, just give it more time.

So then what is the difference between the narrow, negative view that The New York Times and other mainstream media generally present of the Iraq situation, and Slogger's view?

The difference is total immersion. Iraq Slogger is all about Iraq and neighboring situations that impinge on the country. So it is easier to fit the bad news in context with the astounding scope of the project underway in Iraq, which Slogger's reporting addresses on a daily basis.

Many people are so angry with the US invasion of Iraq that they refuse to pay attention to what's going on there, except to count the war dead and ask when the US is leaving. But Slogger's project to inform the public on Iraq's post-Saddam era is of immense historical importance.

Even if you can't find time to read every article, just perusing the headlines on a daily basis will keep you plugged in on the direction of things in Iraq.

The downside for readers who are a money diet is that Slogger is a subscription site; however, the main page of headlines is a free view, and so are the articles linked at the sidebar.

Also, Slogger provides a week's free trial subscription to the site (write their subscription department). That's a help for readers who might be able to swing a subscription, or get their company to do so, but first want a look-see. Also, for those on the hunt for investment opportunities in Iraq, Slogger is a good news source in that regard.

Once you spend a week visiting the site, I think you'll realize that you're not only purchasing information; you're also helping fund the expansion of vital branches of knowledge in the 21st century.

Bill Roggio has correctly observed that there are key differences between Iraq and Afghanistan that make it unwise to wholesale transfer to Afghanistan several lessons learned in Iraq. But many aspects of Iraq's struggle with development and democracy under wartime conditions can be applied to several countries today.

There are scholarly books on infrastructure development and bringing democracy to people with no experience of it. But in Iraq it's all happening in real time. And many of the lessons learned are far more useful to today's world than can be found in older development and democracy-building tomes. Iraq Slogger is playing an important role in bringing that information to the public.

Iraq Slogger makes use of a network of Iraq informants who are often placing their lives at risk to provide Slogger with information. Unlike the 'embedded' conditions under which Bill Roggio and other reporters associated with Long War Journal work in Afghanistan and Iraq, the informants are working totally without protection.

Of course the embeds also face very dangerous situations. But my point, for readers who wonder why Long War Journal doesn't also charge a subscription price, is that right now LWJ doesn't have all the expenses that IS has. Thus far, LWJ has been able to struggle along on donations.

Yet both news organizations are in effect daily newspapers on the war. They are to war reporting what the Wall Street Journal is to business reporting.

Because the Iraq political situation does not occur in a void, IS reports on the involvement of Turkey, Syria and Iran in Iraq's business. And because the war in Afghanistan cannot be separated from Pakistan, LWJ gives a great deal of attention to Pakistan.

Both sites also report on region-wide issues relating to the war, and Bill Roggio's site provides coverage or at least links to major news on terror initiatives and counter-initiatives around the globe.

However, neither site specializes in the Israel-Palestinian situation, which of course is another key component in the war on terror. That is where Monday night at the Loftus Report comes in.

John Loftus, John Batchelor and Malcolm Hoenlein get together for an hour and analyze the week's events relating to the I-P situation. Because that situation also does not happen in a vacuum, discussion can include situations in Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran that impinge on the I-P one.

Is the analysis biased in favor of Israel? The radio show airs on a Jewish station and Malcolm is the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The conference is not a lobbying organization but their mission is to promote Israel in the United States.

The discussion does not avoid criticizing and questioning of the Israeli government's actions. However, there is so much sloppy reporting in the mainstream media on the Israel-Palestinian situation that often the conversation at Loftus Report is to correct errors and address omissions in mainstream reports.

If you want to call that pro-Israel bias, I call it presenting a clearer picture of the situation than Britain's BBC, Canada's CBC, and several other major news outlets provide.

I note that Loftus and Hoenlein did not start out as reporters and news analysts. Years ago John Batchelor spotted their potential in those areas and pressed them into service on his daily news show for ABC radio affiliates. They've both come along very well. Indeed, the Loftus show is coming along very well, and often Batchelor drops in on other nights besides Monday to act as co-host.

The Loftus Report has a limited broadcast range (see the website for details) but it is also available online. If you can't tune in that late (11:00 PM Eastern time), the discussion is available the next day on podcast.

On the Monday show the most important issues are generally fitted into the first half hour of the one-hour show or at least summarized for further discussion in the second half. So if you can't spare an hour, at least tune for the first part.

While you're at the Loftus Report website, scroll through the descriptions of recent broadcasts for any discussions relating to GWOT that you find interesting. The Loftus Report, which airs Monday through Wednesday, is all about GWOT related issues. And Loftus often finds important issues relating to the war that are ignored by the mainstream media, or which have not yet come to MSM attention.

So, for readers who have told me about time management issues conflicting with their desire to keep up with the war news, there you have it: the recipe for success.

If you can squeeze in roughly seven minutes each daily for Iraq Slogger and Long War Journal, and add to this listening to the Loftus Report on Monday, you'll soon find yourself well on top of the war news.

Then you'll have more time left over for visits to your favorite blogs. And for tuning into John Batchelor's Sunday night news marathon starting at 7:00 PM Eastern Time at New York's WABC-77 AM radio, and rolling over to KFI-640 AM in Los Angeles starting at 10:00 PM Eastern Time; the KFI broadcast is available within a day or so on podcast, beep this is a recording.

I have one more time-saving tip but I will leave that for another writing.
4:30 PM ET Update
Reply to huffy Batchelorite:

Yes, I know that Bill Roggio has also been a guest sometimes on the John Batchelor Show since John's return to radio. I am also well aware that Batchelor wrote the book on comprehensive, coherent and consistent reporting on the war -- and I have mentioned that several times over the years on this blog. Yet John did this while he had three hours a night, five nights a week, to cover the news in the US and around the rest of the globe.

The Batchelor Sunday night radio marathon is indispensable for keeping up with important news around the globe. But when it comes to war news it is not a substitute for the daily show -- particularly at this time, when Batchelor is having to give considerable attention to the US presidential campaign and the worldwide credit crisis.

Clearly, the way to solve the problem is for John Batchelor to be returned to his daily show. That's a matter for Batchelor and the radio biz brass to work out.

But as I noted, this post is for readers who have a serious time management problem. It was easy to keep up with the war when Batchelor was on the radio five nights a week. You could do other things while listening and be effortlessly well informed. That's not so today.

And everyone with sense realizes by now that this war is going to drag on for many years, if not decades. So what to do if you're trying to raise two kids, hold down a job with overtime, commute, maintain a comprehensive picture of the war, and still get in some sleep? This post is my best answer at this time

Friday, January 25


An American sent me an email titled "I am not tired of Section 13" -- this, in response to my observation the other day that some Americans readers of this blog felt like screaming if they had to read another word on the topic. The writer added, "Not after reading about MR. STEACY."

Ah yes, the interesting Mr Steacy, the Canadian who asserted in testimony about his work as a human rights violation investigator that freedom of speech is an "American value."

I will be writing again about matters related to Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act because they have direct bearing on censorship of war-related news and discussion. But for now, the talk about censorship has reminded me that I should discuss where to find good comprehensive reporting on the war. That is the subject of the post I'll be publishing later today.

My advice won't come as a big surprise to readers who have been closely following this blog for years. But it will be a help for readers around the world who despair of the amount of time they need to invest, if they want to stay well-informed on the war. There are time-savers available.

Thursday, January 24

Washington unveils the Jackson Pollock school of foreign policy

(Overheard at MOMA)

"Mabel, look at this one! I can't figure out what he wants us to feel."

[After staring at it for two minutes] "Maybe he was just drunk, Henry."

"No, I think he was back on the wagon by that period. Besides, even if they're drunk we're supposed to understand. Read me what the guide book has to say about it."
A recent American intelligence report, concluding that Iran stopped a nuclear weapons development program in 2003, appears to have actually opened the door to additional international economic measures against Tehran.

December's National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, initially confused US allies, who saw the report as undercutting multilateral efforts to pressure Iran. But this week's agreement on the terms of a new resolution suggests that the NIE also deflated widespread concerns that the United States was heading toward unilateral military action against Iran's nuclear sites.

With concerns waning that the US would use additional UN measures as a pretext for such action, some diplomats say, the path to a new resolution was cleared.

The five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, reached the agreement Tuesday at a meeting in Berlin of foreign ministers that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The new resolution is not expected to significantly toughen economic sanctions already approved in the first two resolutions.

The resolution is considerably weaker than what the US and allies, including France and Britain, had sought in recent months. But some ambitious monitoring by international powers would actually be new and could build up the kind of pressure that Iran has shown it does not like, some experts say.

Michael Jacobson, an expert in counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that although the new resolution does not appear to include the kind of monitoring measures that would be most effective, he still believes stepped-up monitoring of the sanctions already approved against Iran would serve a useful purpose. [...]

The reinvigorated drive for a third resolution comes amid confusion caused by a report from the Government Accountability Office that says 20 years of US sanctions against Iran have been largely useless.(1)
[Stepping back several paces] Come over here, Mabel. When you look at it from here, it looks like Bush told his intelligence chiefs, 'Bring me a NIE that dials it back so we can dial it forward.'

[Stepping back] "I don't see that at all, Henry. It looks to me like Thomas Fingar is running interference for the Chinese again."

[Tilting his head to the right] "I don't feel that. Maybe State was running interference for the EU3? Downplaying the threat of war so the EU3 could talk Russia and China into coming on board a new resolution? Remember Gordon Brown's economic glad handing in China the other day."

"Come around over here, George, and look at it from this angle. Notice the earlier sanctions weren't doing any good. So maybe we're supposed to feel confusion and desperation. Wait, here's more from the guidebook:
Some experts strongly disagree ... saying more recent sanctions that have specifically targeted Iranian institutions and individuals have had an impact on the country's actions.

In any case, Jacobson says a third resolution would be useful as a signal to Iran of continuing international vigilance and unity. "It still sends a symbolic message to Iran, particularly with Russia and China joining in. And it's better than the alternative," he adds, "that Iran sees the Security Council is paralyzed and unable to move forward."
[Squinting] Do you think it could just mean Bush is playing a game of gotcha with the mullahs?"

"No. It means victory through paralysis. The goal doesn't mean anything. It's unity that counts."

"That's so profound! I feel like an espresso. What about you?"

1) Renewed Impetus to Sanction Iran

Wednesday, January 23

Censorship in the era of unrestricted warfare against the United States

This one's for American readers who've threatened to scream if they see another word about Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act

"The initial reports of the [Toronto terror bombing plot] caused some controversy when a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, Mike McDonell, described the arrested people as representing a "broad strata" of Canadian society and the Toronto Star claimed that it is "difficult to find a common denominator" among them, even though all were Muslims and many attended the same mosque."

"Google dumps news sites that criticize radical Islam: Search giant axes another news page, calls terrorism discussion 'hate content.' "

"A Muslim police officer is suing former CIA official and counterterrorism consultant Bruce Tefft and the New York Police Department for workplace harassment merely because Tefft sent emails with relevant news stories about Islamic terrorism to a voluntary list of recipients that included police officers. [...] Already, publishers have canceled books on the subject of counterterrorism ... "

"[Stephen] Coughlin was fired as a Joint Staff contractor after his confrontation with Hasham Islam, a special assistant to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England [...] Mr. Islam, a Muslim, referred to Mr. Coughlin as a "Christian zealot with a pen" during the meeting several weeks ago, a slur rejected by Mr. Coughlin's supporters. [...] defense and military officials supportive of Mr. Coughlin said the real reason is that critics like Mr. Islam want him sidelined because they oppose his hard-to-refute views on the relationship between Islamic law and Islamist jihad doctrine. Those views have triggered a harsh debate challenging the widespread and politically correct view of Islam as a religion of peace hijacked by extremists."

"Islamic Bloc Scores 'Defamation of Religions' Resolution at UN
Although the resolution refers to defamation of "religions," Islam is the only religion named in the text, which also takes a swipe at counter-terrorism security measures.

It expresses alarm about "discrimination" and "laws that stigmatize groups of people belonging to certain religions and faiths under a variety of pretexts relating to security and illegal immigration." [...]

The resolution decries "the negative projection of Islam in the media" and voices "deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism."

[Organization of the Islamic Conference] secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu earlier this month addressed an international conference on "Islamophobia," held in Turkey, and told the gathering that freedom of expression was being used as a cover in the West to promote anti-Islam sentiment
* * * * * *
"If you'd said [on September 10, 2001] that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century's principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy."

The quote is from the prologue to Mark Steyn's 2006 book American Alone: The End of the World as We Know It; it also appears in the first paragraph of the excerpt from the book that Maclean's magazine published in October 2006.

Steyn's major point is that it's not Muslims or even the realities of demographics that are dismantling the cradle of Western civilization; it's Westerners who are psychologically incapable of addressing a serious threat to their civilization, even when it punches them in the face.

To review, The excerpt is the basis for the Section 13 complaints filed by Mohamed Elmasry, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, against Maclean's magazine et al.

Invoking Section 13 language, Elmasry complained that the writing was likely to cause feelings of hatred and contempt for Canadian Muslims.

Elmasry's complaint, and the support he's found for it in Canada's government and among Canada's strongest defenders of multiculturalism policy, are an eerie echo of Steyn's major point.

Speaking quite frankly, years of war have made me ruthless about priorities. My overriding interest in the Section 13 Affair is that news and discussion about the war on terror and related issues, which include Islamism, not be censored in a country that borders the United States.

We already have an uphill battle in the US against the Saudis and other powerful actors who are attempting to block virtually all news and public discussion of Islamist-related terrorism. (See Mark Steyn is Not Alone for a discussion of some of the actors.)

In this struggle against censorship there is no border between Canada and the United States; no way you can say, 'That's their problem.'

I will close with a promise to give readers a break, after this writing, from Section 13, and by reprinting a writing by a Canadian Muslim. Salim Mansur perfectly understands the threat that censorship poses to Canada.

However, I am not sure Mansur is correct when he asserts that Professor John Yoo at Berkeley coined the term "lawfare."

In any event, lawfare was articulated as part of the unrestricted war strategy against the United States that China's army developed in the late 1990s. Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri lifted the strategy lock, stock and barrel from the Chinese work.

Thus, the link I've provided to the term presents a more comprehensive description than has recently been cited in discussion of moves to censor Islamist-related topics.

Assault goes beyond violence
Toronto Sun, January 19, 2007

Since 9/11 it is transparently clear the assault against the West by Islamists is not limited to indiscriminate violence.

Islamists also are "using our own legal system as a weapon against us" as Professor John Yoo at the law faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, recently noted.

Islamism is Janus-faced with one face bearing the dreadful visage of Osama bin Laden and the unholy fanatics of the Arab-Muslim world. The other face bears the likeness of "everyman," making it indistinguishable everywhere.

Islamists with their ideological fellow travellers and apologists wearing the Everyman's mask have adopted "lawfare" -- a term coined by Yoo -- as "another dimension of warfare" against the West.

The case brought to the federal and provincial (Ontario and British Columbia) Human Rights Commissions against Maclean's magazine for publishing Mark Steyn's essay on the future belonging to Islam, a growing faith, is an example of "lawfare" being used to undermine the fundamental values of liberal democracy.

The case was brought by Mohamed Elmasry and the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC).

Elmasry and the CIC are well known to Canadians keeping track of them, and the case against Maclean's reflects their political hucksterism and notoriety as apologists for Islamism.

As once noted about the Holy Roman Empire for being neither holy, nor Roman, Elmasry's CIC is neither Canadian, nor Islamic. It speaks only for that segment of Canadian Muslims who publicly or privately support the Islamist agenda of global jihad.

Elmasry's complaint that Maclean's discriminated against him as a Muslim and the Muslim community at large by publishing Steyn's essay, described as "flagrantly anti-Muslim" is frivolous and false.

Elmasry is incapable of grasping what freedom means -- he is on public record for insisting all adult Israelis are legitimate targets for Palestinian suicide bombers, only apologizing under duress -- since he comes from a culture where freedom is mostly non-existent.

But it is outrageous that the HRCs are willing to entertain such frivolous complaints as Alberta's did in accepting a similar complaint against Ezra Levant, the publisher of Western Standard, now out of business.

The objection of Islamists that discussions of Islam and Islamism -- the latter being a totalitarian ideology -- is offensive and deserves contemptuous dismissal, not an investigation by the HRC at taxpayers' expense.

The complaint by anyone -- least of all Islamists as determined foes of liberal democracy -- of being offended by the general robustness of free speech would be indicative that the complainant cannot distinguish between speech that could be construed as maliciously directed at an individual, or a group, and speech in all its variety and vigour that makes for free discourse in the media and academia.

Freedom comes with cost, and the cost of freedom of expression enshrined in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms is finding someone occasionally offended, yet this cannot be the basis for bridging or censoring the most fundamental right of an open society.

It will not be surprising to learn the HRC bureaucrats find incomprehensible the observation made by Ronald Dworkin, a highly respected legal philosopher, "the only right you don't have in a democracy is the right not to be offended."

Federal and provincial legislators bear heavy responsibility in protecting our democracy and safeguarding our freedoms.

The HRC's function urgently needs confinement by statute to its original purpose, while denying it authority to entertain frivolous complaints -- as is Elmasry's case against Maclean's -- that would subvert rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter.

Tuesday, January 22

If we would all learn never to say anything to cause fear you wouldn't have to ask these silly questions

Readers who closely follow the Section 13 Affair know that within the past week there has been a massive shift in perception.

Two weeks ago arguments about Section 13 revolved almost exclusively around the issue of freedom of speech, as they had for years. Then came a convergence of events from unrelated quarters.

When the events met last week, thousands of Canadians and many outside Canada suddenly realized that Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act was more than an outrage against free speech: the way it's administered made it a crime, a government crime.

As to why nobody had noticed before, that part is easy to explain. The announcement of the Section 13 filing against Maclean's magazine brought more scrutiny to Section 13 from more sharp observers than had ever occurred before, and all at the same time. This converged with revelations arising from other Section 13s under HRC review, and which pointed to criminal aspects of specific Section 13 proceedings.

The perception shift is so new that I assume the attorneys defending the Section 13 respondents are still trying to sort it out. It has not yet made its way into Canada's mainstream media.

Also, I doubt the shift has percolated into Canada's Parliament, with the possible exception of any MPs who closely follow Section 13 cases. And it doesn't seem that the shift in perception has arrived at the Attorney General/Justice Minister's office.

So. What's the next step?

Clearly nobody likes my idea -- at least, not yet -- of bringing criminal harassment charges against Canada's human rights commissions. (See my last post.)

Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant like the idea of approaching Rob Nicholson, Canada's Attorney General/Justice Minister, and asking him to explain why the HRCs he oversees are engaged in criminal behavior. In that regard I received a letter from a Canadian reader who observed:
Mark Steyn and others have raised the question of whether some complaints made to Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals have involved criminal activity by the complainants and the staff of the Commissions and Tribunals acting in collusion, presumably amounting to the crime of conspiracy or something analogous to it.

There have also been suggestions that the Attorney General of Canada should look into this. I have no idea whether the Attorney General would be minded to prosecute, but it seems to me possible, assuming that there has been such criminal activity, that it could be prosecuted by means of a private prosecution. The information [at the
Canadian Federal Prosecution Service policy webpage] seems to indicate that this course is feasible.
If you want the Attorney General to act, there might be a snag, which Levant alludes to in the post he titled Questions for Rob Nicholson. Levant observes
[...] I'd hang the antics of the human rights commission around the neck of the man who is ultimately responsible for it -- and in the case of the federal HRC, that would be Rob Nicholson.
I don't want to short Levant's opinions in this matter so I recommend reading the entire post. But with regard to the snag, Levant closes by observing that he knows Nicholson well enough to know he's "not clueless" and yet Nicholson is:
[...] likely facing resistance from bureaucrats and civil service lawyers giving him a dozen "yes minister" reasons why the CHRC can't be reformed or abolished. But they're not the ones who are ultimately politically accountable -- he is.
I think there are two ways to read Levant's observations:

1. If Nicholson finds himself under enough pressure he might overcome politics as usual.

2. The fox is in charge of the chicken coop.

There is a third possibility, which is that Levant is wrong; that with regard to the legality of Section 13 Nicholson really does not have a clue.

I do have another suggestion. It might be a help if a few Canadians who've become familiar with the criminal aspects of Section 13 administration would attend a January 24 panel discussion in Calgary called "Offensive Speech: What's Legal? What's Ethical?"

The panelists will be Alan Borovoy, "Canada's best-known civil libertarian;" Stephen Ward, Director of the Centre for Journalism Ethics at UBC; and Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

See The Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics and Leadership for details; attendance is free but requires registration.

The discussion will focus on "the limitation of offensive speech in a free society."
Micheal Vonn will weigh-in on the importance of not side-lining equality rights in free speech advocacy. “The tone of the current debate is quite troubling. The free speech advocates I'm reading in the mainstream press are insistent that marginalized groups are 'merely offended' and not threatened or genuinely afraid. What this public discussion needs is a lot less polemic and a lot more honest assessment of the complexity of the issues.”
The website also notes that "Panellists will discuss where we should draw the line when speech is offensive to one or more groups, for example, gays or Muslims."

So I think it would be a help if during the Q&A period something like this was asked of the panelists:

"You've spoken about where to draw the line. Have you given any thought to how? The way that Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act is administered means that respondents are presumed guilty of instigating actions that have not occurred and might never occur.

"That kind of government proceeding is illegal in any society that accords presumption of innocence; in fact, it's illegal in Canada. Yet the proceedings continue with the full backing of Canada's Parliament and federal and provincial governments. Do you have any idea why?"

I warn this line of questioning might be lost on Ms Vonn, who has clearly gone beyond the Section 13 goal of ending the likelihood of hatred and contempt and is now working on ridding Canadian society of the likelihood of fear. However, asking how she intends to do this by revoking presumption of innocence in quasi-judicial proceedings could scare up -- if you'll pardon the expression -- an interesting reply.

I note from the website that on appointment the panelists are giving interviews before and after the discussion. So interested bloggers and reporters might want to put the above questions, and others relating to the legality of Section 13 proceedings, during an interview.

Friday, January 18

Any questions about the state of democracy education in Canada?

The following exchange is from the Warman vs Lemire Section 13 hate speech hearing before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (page 4793 of the transcript). Barbara Kulaszka is the attorney for the respondent in the case. Dean Steacy is the chief CHRC investigator.
MS. KULASZKA: Mr. Steacy, you were talking before about context and how important it is when you do your investigation. What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?

MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.

MS. KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.

MR. STEACY: It's not my job to give value to an American concept.

Thursday, January 17

Pundita answers the critics

Dymphna at Gates of Vienna linked to my post Don't rile the natives ... and titled her commentary An Ancient Struggle: The BCM vs the AGM.

The post brought forth arguments and questions from GOV readers, which caused me to realize I should provide further explanation on some points I raised.

When I wrote the essay I didn't consider that the points that attracted strongest criticism were central to my discussion. But the arguments caused me to acknowledge that by bringing up the subject of British colonial rule and connecting that with Canada's official multiculturalism policy, I should be prepared to argue for a line of reasoning that's not addressed in current political debates.

I posted my replies at Gates of Vienna, but also provide them here. I don't provide the full text of the comments, which of course you can access at GOV.

I want to begin, however, not with an argument but with a reply I made to a comment that came into GOV just as I was posting my explanations:

I think it's vital for those outside Canada to realize that quietly, under the radar, Canada's version of multiculturalism is having an impact globally. This impact will only increase. As I noted in my essay, the Aga Khan is pushing the Canadian Way. And many world leaders are doing the same.

But as I pointed in my earlier essays on the Maclean's affair, Canada's government is making a deceptive sales pitch to the world. They're saying in essence, 'We have this beautiful liberal democracy and multiculturalism is big part of our success as a liberal democracy. If we can do it, you can do it.'

My earlier essays, starting with the Jan 8 one, turned up that Canada is not a liberal democracy. The Canadian government is studiously ignoring that to make their multicultural policy 'work,' they're having to make the fundamental rights of Canadians very conditional. And they are having to take draconian measures, including the blatant intimidation represented by Section 13, to repress speech.

That is not a liberal democracy. But the Canadian Way is manna for repressive governments that want to put on the appearance of democracy.

* * * * *

By multiculturalism I am referring to Canada's official policy by that name. In the essay under discussion I provide a link to a Canadian Parliament research service paper on the official policy. I strongly recommend that everyone interested in the topic read the paper. No matter how multiculturalism has been defined, Canada's version is the one that is being promulgated worldwide.

* * * * *

The argument that multiculturalism is a socialist invention is uninformed. However, the term has come to mean so many things, and been bended to so many modern political causes, that the best I could do in my essay was to warn that the term had many meanings.

But study Canadian history to become aware of the profound distinction between the genesis of multicultural policy in Canada and Europe. From the beginning, Canada's multicultural enterprise was used as a tool of expansion in 'native' tribal regions and for nation-building. In Europe, multiculturalism was used as a means to manage immigrant populations.

Turning to more modern times, and just to set the record straight, the first full articulation of Canada's multiculturalism policy came not from a Liberal or socialist but from a Progressive Conservative, Senator Paul Yuzyk, in his initial Senate speech in 1964.

The Liberal government that brought Yuzyk's ideas into legislation was acting on the problem of Canada's 'third force' more than on socialist politics. Canada's third force -- after the first and second forces of the British-French compact and the aboriginal inhabitants -- was the huge and rapid influx of a wide variety of culturally diverse immigrants during the post World War Two period.

The size and speed of the influx had overrun assimilation policy. This situation was leading to 'ghettoizing' of large numbers of immigrants, thus raising the specter of race riots and worse.

So, without launching a discourse, I'll just note that given the crisis situation that had built up, it's likely that even the most hard-core Conservative Canadian government would have clutched at the straw that Yuzyk offered.

The bending of a nation-building strategy to managing immigrant populations had mixed results, and was viewed with deep distrust by the Québécois. They feared that multiculturalism would rob them of their historic place of importance in Canada's power structure.

To whatever extent West European socialists found multiculturalism policy attractive, it is inarguable that West European governments that began to adopt multicultural policy in 1973 were influenced more by Canada's success than by socialism.

The more you know about the distinction, the more readily evident that the current arguments in West Europe about multiculturalism are too narrow. If those Europeans contesting multiculturalism want to get on better ground, they should study Canadian history and the history of the British colonial enterprise. But make sure to dig deep, when it comes to studying the Canadian enterprise.

As I politely indicated in my essay, Canada's official version of how multiculturalism came about in Canada is not the only one. If you want a far more critical version, read historical anthropologist Eva Mackey's book, The House of Difference: Cultural politics and national identity in Canada.

Mackey's view of the building of the Canadian nation is also open to some dispute. But if you put Mackey's and the official views together, you'll be in the ballpark. From that vantage point you can feel your way to an understanding of how the BCM was very effective at nation building and managing natives -- and even the French, who themselves were no slouches at colonial enterprise.

With regard to a critics's sweeping claim that the British empire "imposed British values" on those ruled under the British enterprise, the claim is so vastly misinformed that I have to restrain myself from mockery.

Would that the British had imposed their values on the 30% of Africa that they ruled! And if only they had imposed their values on Ceylon, and India including the region known today as Pakistan! If only -- then oceans of blood would not have been spilled in the sectarian and tribal convulsions that arose to replace British rule.

The British imposed order on myriad tribes and clans. As part of that effort, they created a veneer, a stage show of British justice and governments. Once the veneer wore off, prebendalism arose like a monster from the deep, only made even more vicious and grasping by the long decades of British 'management.'

Prebendalism is an undescriptive term for the age-old tribal and clan practice of expropriating the lion's share of state revenues for the personal use of the most powerful chief, his immediate family, and their protectors.

The graft is vast that arises from prebendalism in governments that only pay lip service to the kind of values the British espouse. It is so vast that nobody in the modern development or aid community wants to attempt to tot up the trillions of US dollars and British pounds that ended up in the pockets of a relative handful of scoundrels who bled their nations.

If British values had been absorbed in their 30% of Africa, by the 1980s, post-colonial British Africa would have been a trading and industrial giant that eclipsed the European and American ones.

So let us not talk about the imposition of British values on regions that only knew the clan system or tribalism before the British came along. The British were intent on managing those populations, not transforming them into genuine democracies.

Toward the end of Empire, yes, the British made sincere attempts to encourage 'home rule' and a transition to independent democratic government in many places they ruled. But within less than a decade of British pullout, it was evident that in many former holdings, the effort was too little, too late.

There are exceptions to the rule but without examining the list, I think it's fair to observe that in places where the British system managed to hang on well past the British exit, there was a government infrastructure in place prior to British arrival that represented an elevation on tribal government. India's maharaja system is one such structure.

None of the above is an attempt to demonize the British or their empire. One must look at things in the context of history, and not neglect the many positive contributions of Empire. It is very likely that many of the tribes the British oversaw would have otherwise died out from wars, cycles of revenge, and starvation. Why, even the Saudi tribe owes their existence to British intervention against the Turks' attempt to wipe them out.

Yet all the above explains why the British became so very critical of the US nation-building effort in Iraq. They knew from long experience that the US had walked into a maze of tribes and clans that the US could not expect to transform into a genuinely democratic nation -- not without more years and patience than the US was probably willing to invest.

The British also knew the consequences of the US hastily setting up a "stage show" democratic government, then pulling out of Iraq, leaving to their own devices the tribes and clans that had been released from the Baath party's iron grip.

Now I turn a critic's mention of PC. The critic asks if what I call the BCM is indeed "a historical left over in former colonies, then how, pray tell, does multiculturalism and political correctness rule the roost in countries that were neither colonies nor under British influence? To wit, all of Western Europe."

The above answers much of the question but with regard to PC, that was not a British invention, or British modification of strategies used by the Roman Empire. Political correctness comes from an entirely different stream; namely, the ancient Chinese one.

The strategy arises from tactics for managing tribes that came under Chinese rule. The strategy is almost the inverse of multiculturalism. PC arose from the idea that no matter what tribe you belong to, when you are under the rule of the Emperor, you are going to think and act like a right proper member of the Middle Kingdom. This means it's not correct if your choice of words reflects anything but the Middle Kingdom way

This strategy was updated by Mao Zedong and used to repress dissent in China against his brand of Communism. This led to the Orwellian tactic of not naming unpleasant situations for what they are. Thus, the death camps in Mao's China had names roughly equating to "The Happy Inn of Reeducation."

So. As to how PC and multiculturalism got married in West Europe (and in America and Canada) frankly, I think I would need to ingest a powerful hallucinogen before I could wrap my mind around how the situation came to pass.

But I'll bet that when you dig to the bottom, you will find mass education systems that don't put much emphasis on teaching world history except maybe revisionist history, which was never much good at describing the details of Mao's reign of terror.

I hope all the above helps underscore why I brought up British colonialism in the context of a discussion about Canadian multiculturalism policy, and Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act. The angry debates about Canada's human rights commissions and the discrimination complaint against Maclean's magazine are hyper-focused on Canada's Conservative-Liberal political divide.

I interject that the debates have been egged on by American Conservatives jumping into the fray. But to hear these debaters tell it, the entire problem could be solved by getting rid of the 'Liberal invention' of the rights commissions. And from the other side, Liberals howling that the Conservatives are hell bent on destroying Canada's rich multicultural 'liberal' democracy.

So, with the facts of history in mind, my essay was in the nature of rifle shots aimed above the head of an unruly mob that was turning violent. If everyone would calm down and think, they would realize that the situation they find themselves in -- facing the death of free speech in Canada -- was not an invention of socialist or Liberal policies.

It arose from highly pragmatic nation-building strategy, which by many twists and turns had led Canada to where it is today: a nation that is a 'liberal' democracy in name only.

Canada is not yet a police state, but it has long been drifting somewhere between the authoritarian democracy of a nation like Singapore and the liberal democracy of the United States. That Canadian's don't seem to see this -- they better open their eyes.

My essay was to warn that unless Canadians ditch the narrow Left-Right context of their debates, they stand to lose more than free speech. They stand to lose their democracy.

Wednesday, January 16

Don't rile the natives, or what do Canada and Chechnya have in common?

For background on Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act, which is the basis of the discrimination complaints against Maclean's magazine and Ezra Levant, see these Pundita posts:
Jan 8: Maclean's Magazine Affair reveals deep fissures in Canada's democracy
Jan 14: Canada's version of The Minority Report: pre-crime and presumption of guilt in Section 13 cases
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If I thought medication would help, I suppose I would tell a psychiatrist that I'm always on the lookout for the British counterinsurgency. I don't like admitting this to you -- paranoids generally don't unburden themselves for obvious reasons; you could be a Redcoat spy. But as there is no other way to explain the reasoning behind my view of Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act (see the last two Pundita posts about Section 13), I have let you in on my secret.

I am not prejudiced against the British, you understand; I'm waiting for them to make another try. There is a difference.

Section 13 is a direct consequence of Canada's official multicultural policy, which is written into their Charter of Rights and Freedoms under Section 27.

But what is multiculturalism and how did it come about in Canada? Here is the Canadian government's explanation. Yet mountains of books and scholarly papers have been published in the attempt to answer the question. None of them are worth a plug nickel in my view, unless they explain that multiculturalism in its modern version was a British invention for managing native populations.

So when I review published criticism of the Section 13 complaints against Maclean's magazine I can only shake my head in wonder at such blindness. The critics, whether from Canada or America, are doggedly determined to pin blame on human rights commissions, or Liberals and the Political Correctness movement.

Let us be clear. The war between the American colonies and Britain ended, but the ideological struggle never did. That struggle has been played out most recently in Iraq, which saw the British approach to managing the natives in Basra in open conflict with the US attempt to block Iranian weapons from entering Iraq. My nightmare is that it's being played out in Afghanistan as well.

What are the two sides in the struggle? The British colonial model (BCM) is that you allow the natives you rule in foreign lands to keep to their own ways as much as possible without your losing control over them. This approach arose out of practical needs to keep tribal rivalries from spilling into wars that the British home office would find hard to control.

On the topic of democracy the BCM says: What use it is to teach these tribes democracy when the first thing they'll do with it is tear each other to pieces and balkanize into territories the size of a postage stamp?

The BCM is basically a conflict-management model.

The American Government Model (AGM) is built on the defense of liberty and the protection of individual rights. That the United States has often betrayed the model when applying it to foreign relations does not invalidate it.

I see in the conflict between the BCM and AGM the age-old struggle between maintaining order and self empowerment.

Now we proceed to Pundita's one minute history of the modern world.

In the post-World War Two era the BCM seemingly went into eclipse. But on close inspection -- and Canada is a good example -- in many places the BCM continued to influence government policies even in countries that had won full independence from the British.

The BCM produced a way of thinking that is so deeply ingrained in post-colonial countries that I believe this is why many Canadians don't see that Section 13 poses threats to their freedom beyond the issue of freedom of speech.

When push comes to shove the BCM is so useful at maintaining order that there hardly seems a contest between it and the AGM.

Here we come to a snag, which became evident when British rule left countries that often were creations of Colonialist deals and alliances.

In the many bloodbaths that followed it was clear that all the BCM had ever done was keep a lid on situations. In horror, the British tried as best they could, given their own very difficult situation after World War Two, to right the wrongs of the BCM in former colonies.

They soon learned that several governments in the former colonies preferred mass slaughter as the means to managing uprisings, despite all the years of British influence under the BCM.

The British got a chance to redeem themselves during the Cold War, and particularly toward its close, when they threw considerable resources at helping Eastern European countries learn the ropes of democracy.

Then came the end of the Soviet Union. Then followed the golden years when it seemed that globalization had obsolesced the ideological struggle between order and freedom. Somehow, unrestricted trade between nations would translate into freedom and order for all.

Then came 9/11, followed by the Democracy Doctrine and Bush's announcement that he planned to export the doctrine to the four quarters. At this news people around the globe thought they were experiencing an earthquake. No, it was just millions of government officials hitting the floor with a thud after fainting in horror.

And here we are today. Where exactly is "here?"
Canadian multiculturalism is looked upon with admiration by many world leaders - particularly His Highness the Aga Khan. In a 2002 interview with the Globe and Mail, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world."

He explained that the experience of Canadian governance - its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its peoples - is something that must be shared and would be of benefit societies in other parts of the world.

With this in mind, he went on in 2006 to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre seeks to export the Canadian experience by promoting pluralist values and practices in culturally diverse societies worldwide, with the aim of ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential as a citizen, irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious differences.
Do not assume that the Aga Khan is a rustic. The first Aga Khan suppressed a regional rebellion against the British Raj in India, which earned him the only personal gun salute that the British accorded a native leader. For their loyalty the British Raj heaped high rank and nobility on the Aga Khans.

The present Aga Khan has used his position and wealth for the betterment of countless people, and he's done it so well that it reflects a kind of genius. His work in international development has been an influence on me for many years.

But we cannot expect all things from one person. The Aga Khan is not the flagship for democracy. He's got a lot of tribal peoples to look after, and who are scattered in more than 30 countries that have varying degrees of freedom and prosperity.

The Aga Khan has taught his people to practice tolerance for other cultures and religions, and to live in peace with those whose ways of thinking are radically different from their own. So it's no wonder that he would embrace Canada's multicultural policy and promote it around the world.

To complete the picture of where we are today, let's listen to Yossef Bodansky explain Russia's new approach for dealing with natives. Actually, you'll have to listen to a summary of my hastily scribbled notes from radio broadcasts because I have not yet read Seffy's new book Chechen Jihad: The Next Wave of Terror.

Surely the book addresses the title topic. But during his conversations with John Batchelor and John Loftus on their respective radio shows, Seffy focused on outlining how the Russian government defused the Chechen rebellion without further bloodshed:

After years of attempting without success to brutally suppress the rebellion, Putin and his technocrats noticed that the more they suppressed, the more this drove the Chechens into terrorism.

Putin saw another way when it became clear that the Chechens were fed up with the foreign neo-Salafists who had taken over their rebellion. Those usurpers belong to the Global Caliphate by the Sword crowd -- al Qaeda and kindred.

Most Chechens weren't interested in being rulers of the world. They just wanted things like jobs, education, and enough to eat. But they didn't want to live under Moscow's thumb because that would destroy their way of doing things. And they didn't want to live under Salafist rule because that would do the same.

So Putin&Co. went to Chechen leaders and said, in essence,'What we want is for you to stay with Russia. What you want is to retain your tribal forms of government. So why don't we make a deal that gives us both what we want? You stay with Russia and keep your way of doing things.'

Seffy termed this deal the Russian Model, which caused me to throw my pen in the air and shriek, "What does he mean Russian model? That's the British model for keeping the natives in line!"

But the approach was Open Sesame. The deal has been so well accepted by the Chechens that if I correctly recall from Seffy's conversation, there are now 12 times the number of Chechens serving in Russia's security forces as Chechens still running around the hills and talking about blowing up Russia.

Several of the latter types have left for Iran and other parts of the world where they can work on the Global Caliphate plan. But the Russian Model has so far been such a success at quelling the Chechnya rebellion that Moscow wants to apply the model to other regions.

Seffy suggested that the United States apply the Russian Model to Afghanistan and other parts of South Asia/Central Asia. To support his argument he laid out the bottom line:

Does the US want to continue promoting democracy when the tribes are determined to continue their ways? Or do we want their help in guarding thousands of miles of oil pipelines that are vital to the West?

To this I exclaimed, "He's asking America to act like the British Raj! Meet the new boss! Same as the old boss!"

I know at the back of my mind that the BCM is far older than Britain. It goes back to the Roman Empire and much earlier. Again, it's a conflict management model, which served ancient empires that based far-flung trade on managing the natives.

So if it wasn't for the fact that humankind can't go on for eternity with countless tribal governments carried by a few highly productive nations, the BCM would be the clear winner in the argument with the AGM.

That is something Canadians need to ponder. And everyone needs to notice that debates between multiculturalism and assimilation are sucking oxygen from the debate between freedom and oppression.

I understand the issues connected with "visible minorities" and immigration management in the face of declines in the majority population. I know that these are pressing issues for governments that must deal with large numbers of immigrants who arrive from vastly different cultures.

And yet these are conflict management issues, which are not the linchpin of a nation's democracy. My last two posts pointed out that Canada drifted away from being a liberal democracy, to the extent the country ever was one. How much more drift do Canadians want, before they wake one morning and realize they're living in a police state?

Democracy is not a given. And multiculturalism is not an equivalent value with democracy. Nor is it an equivalent value with human rights. Nor is it equivalent with progress.

I am haunted by the words of a village elder in Afghanistan. He wanted his daughter to become a doctor because that was what she wanted to do with her life. There was no school in the village yet he refused to give up his dream for his daughter.

So measure that dream against pipelines. Then tell me whether any nation should go ahead and rile the natives in Afghanistan or do business as usual. Tell me whether a thousand miles of pipeline are worth the life of one good man.

I hear voices wafting from the Great North: 'But Pundita if we don't keep all these diverse immigrants happy we won't be able to keep our economy going! Then Canada won't be in a position to help that man!

Do you really think that's the kind of answer that produced the U.S. Bill of Rights?

You cannot confuse tolerance with respect for human life. Even the British at the height of their colonialist enterprise understood that. There were times when they knew they had to draw the line:
... the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
I am not asking Canadians to give up multiculturalism entirely. Just ask the British what happens when multiculturalism trumps the values that support democracy. Then realign priorities.

Yes, tolerance is good up to a point. Respecting other people's heritage is good. But in this era the conflict between freedom and order is a pivotal struggle in many nations. It's even arisen in Canada in the form of the Maclean's affair and Section 13.
Some points in the above writing brought for criticism and questions, which I answer here.