Celebrated author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian judicial panels on charges linked to his book America Alone .
The book, a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, argues that Western nations are succumbing to an Islamist imperialist threat. The fact that charges based on it are proceeding apace proves his point.
After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean's reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading “hatred
and contempt" for Muslims.
The plaintiffs allege that Maclean's advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from
Two separate panels, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, have agreed to hear the case. These bodies are empowered to hear and rule on cases of purported “hate speech."
Watch Ezra Levant
, editor of the Canadian Western Standard, put up a robust defence of his right to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons.
He was scandalously called to account for himself by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. See him tell them off:
Here’s a transcript from his opening statement:
For a government bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a Universal Declaration of Rights, a
Bill of Rights and a Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values. It is also deeply procedurally one-sided and unjust. The complainant – in this case, a radical Muslim imam, who was trained at an officially
anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, and who has called for sharia law to govern Canada – doesn’t have to pay a penny; Alberta taxpayers pay for the prosecution of the complaint against me. The victims of the complaints, like the Western
Standard, have to pay for their own lawyers from their own pockets. Even if we win, we lose – the process has become the punishment.
A four-day human rights hearing began in an overcrowded Vancouver courtroom Monday with the Canadian Islamic Congress claiming a Maclean's magazine article subjected Muslims to hatred and contempt.
The complaint against the article, titled Why the Future Belongs to Islam and published Oct. 23, 2006, was made to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal by Naiyer Habib, an Abbotsford cardiologist and B.C. director for the Canadian Islamic Congress.
Maclean's is published in Ontario but the Ontario Human Rights Commission declined to hear the complaint.
It alleges the magazine discriminated against Muslims on religious and racial grounds contrary to section 7 (1) of the B.C. Human Rights Code.
The article by author Mark Steyn was based on excerpts from his book America Alone .
Faisal Joseph, representing Habib, accused the national media of consistently denigrating Muslims and said the article alleged Muslims were poised to take over Western society and impose their laws by virtue of their numbers.
He said the context of the article was that Muslims were violent people, and cast suspicions on them as potential terrorists and extremists who were a threat to Western values such as democracy and human rights.
Joseph said Muslims were discriminated against in Western society and made to feel they don't belong. The fact a person is Muslim doesn't mean he wants to take over the world, he said.
Roger McConchie, representing the magazine, said the tribunal's hearings constituted an unjustifiable infringement of freedom of the press as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
McConchie said Maclean's doesn't accept that the tribunal is entitled to monitor editorial decisions and what should and shouldn't be published. Maclean's will not be calling any witnesses, he added.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a Muslim group's complaint against Maclean' s magazine.
The long-running case came before the Commission after the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) complained that the highly-regarded magazine published an article in October 2006 likely to expose Muslims to hatred and contempt.
The article, entitled The Future Belongs to Islam, by Canadian writer and commentator Mark Steyn claimed that Muslims were on the verge of taking over Europe and the West because of demographic shifts.
The article said that their greater numbers will eventually allow Muslims to dominate Western countries, pointing out that: Muslims are reproducing like mosquitoes.
In January this year, Steyn, writing in the Calgary Herald, said: That line certainly appears in my text, but they're not my words. Rather, they were said by a prominent Scandinavian Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to a respectable Norwegian newspaper.
The imam was boasting at how Islam would outbreed Europe . . .
This is the nub of the complaints against Maclean's: They're objecting to a Canadian magazine quoting accurately the statements of leading Muslims. And at least two of Canada's ‘human rights' commissions, to their shame, have accepted their
absurd proposition that accurately quoting leading Muslims is somehow ‘Islamophobic'.
According to this report, The CHRC concluded last week that the views in the article: When considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature, as defined by the Supreme Court.
But The Commission noted that Steyn's writing is: Polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
Nothing wrong with that, in any country that values freedom of expression!
After a yearlong investigation, the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has rejected a complaint by the Edmonton Council of Muslim Canadians against former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant over his re-publication of the Danish Muhammad
The allegation the Feb. 14, 2006, issue of the now-defunct magazine was likely to expose Muslims to hatred helped to spark a national debate about human-rights law and free speech, and its rejection comes after similar complaints of Islamophobia against
Maclean's magazine also failed.
In a report on his investigation, which recommended the complaint not be referred to a panel hearing, the human rights and citizenship commission's Pardeep S. Gundara wrote the cartoons are stereotypical, negative and offensive, and they do
reinforce stereotypes, but they were related to relevant and timely news and were not simply gratuitously included.
Yasmeen Nizam, a civil litigation lawyer in Edmonton and a director of the council of Muslim Canadians, said the Council is certainly disappointed with the decision. We thought the cartoons did (expose Muslims to hatred), regardless of the
context, because if you look at the broader context in a post-9-11 world, Muslims are at a higher risk of being discriminated against.
I basically told them to f-off without using the swear word, Levant said of his response to the complaint, given during an interview with a human-rights commission officer that he taped and broadcast on YouTube.
He does not consider this a victory, though.
This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I'm not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity.
That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara and know that you have the right to do so, because you're in Canada, not Saudi Arabia.
Another rights tribunal has dismissed a case against Canada's Maclean's magazine, which was accused of spreading hatred against Muslims in an article by conservative writer Mark Steyn.
The 2006 article The New Word Order may have caused some to fear Muslims as a threat to western society, but that did not mean that it promoted religious hatred, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled.
The article, with all of its inaccuracies and hyperbole, has resulted in political debate which in our view (the human rights code) was never intended to suppress, the three-member panel ruled.
Media and civil rights groups had opposed the complaint against Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress, fearing that a ruling against the national newsweekly would lead to restrictions on freedom of the press.
The Canadian Islamic Congress lost similar complaints against the Maclean's article in Ontario and before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
A private members bill introduced into the Canadian House of Commons is seeking to delete the controversial hate
speech provision in the Human Rights Act that has been used to silence Christians and conservatives who express politically incorrect opinions.
I've been working with colleagues to try to make sure that we make some changes to a piece of legislation that is flawed and --- quite frankly --- has been abused over the last several of years, said Conservative MP Brian Storseth who
introduced the bill.
Bill C-304 proposes to delete Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to ensure that there is no infringement on freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It received its first reading on
September 30th, 2011.
Critics of section 13 have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent to a thought crime. The provision defines a discriminatory practice as any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt
if the person or persons affected are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
This is really about freedom of speech in our country and pushing back on the tyrannical bureaucracy need to censor speech in our country.
If we don't have freedom of speech, what good are the other freedoms that go along with it? What good is the freedom to assemble or religious freedoms if you don't have the freedom of speech in the first place?
Storseth hopes that the bill will be debated at the beginning of November and that the first vote will take place at the end of that month.
A contentious section of Canadian human rights law, long criticized by free-speech advocates as overly restrictive and tantamount to censorship,
is gone for good.
A private member's bill repealing Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the so-called hate speech provision, passed in the Senate this week. Its passage means the part of Canadian human rights law that permitted rights complaints
to the federal Human Rights Commission for the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet will soon be history. The bill has received royal assent and will take effect after a one-year phase-in period.
An ecstatic Brian Storseth said his bill, which he says had wide support across ideological lines and diverse religious groups, repeals a flawed piece of legislation and he called Canada's human rights tribunal a quasi-judicial,
secretive body that takes away your natural rights as a Canadian.
Producing and disseminating hate speech remains a crime in Canada, but regulating it will fall to the courts, not to human rights tribunals. Under the Criminal Code, spreading hate against identifiable groups can carry up to a two-year prison
There's a debate in the Canadian province of Quebec over the future of free speech. The Quebec Parliament is
currently debating whether to pass Bill 59, a bill that would grant the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) the authority to investigate so-called hate speech , even without a complaint being filed.
The Head of the QHRC, Jacques Frémont has already openly said that he plans to use such powers:
"To sue those critical of certain ideas, 'people who would write against ... the Islamic religion ... on a website or on a Facebook page'"
The legality of the QHRC asserting jurisdiction over the entire Canadian Internet-using public is under debate, but the consensus in Canada appears to be that this bill is a step backwards. In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of
Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13 , of Canada's Human Rights Act. The elimination of the censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were
targeted for writings and publications which reportedly "offending" Muslims.
But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring "blasphemous" speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.
Canadian comedian Mike Ward has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help pay his legal costs after being fined for cracking a bad-taste joke against a disabled teenager.
Montreal's misleadingly named 'Human Rights' Tribunal ordered the comic to pay Jérémy Gabriel $35,000 (£20,000) for the hurt caused, and another $7,000 (£4,000) to Gabriel's mother, Sylvie.
However, Ward has refused to pay, and plans to launch an appeal. He says his stance has pushed his legal costs up to $93,000 (£54,000) which he is now hoping to cover from his fans and supporters. Writing on GoFundMe, Ward said:
I told a joke. Was it in bad taste? Yes. Comedians should be allowed to tell jokes, even crass, hurtful ones. Hurt feelings shouldn't dictate what a comedian can or can not do on stage.
I've already spent 93 thousand dollars to make sure I don't have to pay 42K... I'm either really bad at math or I take free speech pretty goddamn seriously.
The jokes that landed him in trouble were aimed at Gabriel, who was born with a skull deformity called Treacher Collins syndrome. He became well-known in Quebec after he was flown to Rome to sing for Pope Benedict in 2006. One gag in Ward s'eXpose tour
and 2012 special was about Gabriel getting so much attention over his condition but now, five years later, and he's still not dead! ... Me, I defended him, like an idiot, and he won't die!".
'Justice' Scott Hughes found that the French-language routine went beyond the limits that a reasonable person must tolerate in the name of freedom of expression .
Ward will perform a show at the Edinburgh Fringe next week about his freedom of speech battles.