A Canadian friend writes regarding unrest occasioned by Ann Coulter’s attempt to speak at the University of Ottawa…
Sometimes, (quite often, actually) I am completely ashamed to be a Canadian and this is certainly one of those times. The treatment by the administration and student body of the University of Ottawa in the case of Anne Coulter’s speech is unconscionable. I wish I could apologize personally to Ms. Coulter for her treatment (in fact, I would dearly love to apologize to Anne Coulter for absolutely anything – but that’s just a long-dreamt sexual fantasy and I digress).
A bit of history:
The original Canadian Bill of Rights, which came in under Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1960, specifically stated in Section 1 (d) that “freedom of speech” was a Canadian right. However, the Bill of Rights was a federal statute, not a Constitutional document. By the time it morphed into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of the Constitution Act in 1982 under Canada’s most famous Socialist Prime Minister (actually Liberal, but let’s call a spade a spade), Pierre Trudeau (a dabbler in Marxism whose Harvard dissertation was on the subject of Communism and Christianity), the wording became somewhat fuzzified (if that’s a word). Section 2 (b) of the Charter lists “freedom of … expression …”, which one might think would apply to speech. However, all of the basic rights in section 2 are subject to the “reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” of Section 1.
I can’t think of a larger caveat – Canadians have specific rights guaranteed constitutionally as long as whoever may currently be in charge of Parliament interprets those rights as being reasonable – WTF!
Now let’s move on to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (1977) as administered by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (and various provincial laws and commissions). Once again, this is a federal statute, not part of the Constitution, but would appear to be part of the “reasonable limits” described above. Section 13 (1) states that “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 [my emphasis] 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”.
It is that one word, “likely”, that is the essential problem. How do you prove or disprove something as being “likely”? I would also point out that this is being adjudicated by a tribunal, not a court, with no rules of evidence – truth is not a valid defense in these kangaroo courts.
The original intent of the Act was to address discriminatory practices in employment through a low-cost non-judicial process, a laudable goal, [maybe, but as questionable as any other government intent, Ed.] but it has mutated into something far more dangerous to freedom as Ms. Coulter is now aware. I am delighted that she is taking the hypocritical left-wing bigots to the very Commission that was ultimately threatening her – beautiful, blond, conservative, intelligent, female, humorous and outspoken – now if there was ever an identifiable group subject to hatred, she should be part of such a group. It’s unfortunate that she also happens to also be “white” and “Christian” – that’s not good – guilty as charged, regardless of the merits.
Alan Borovoy, a renowned Canadian Civil Liberties Association lawyer (the Canadian version of your ACLU) and one of the principle architects of the Canadian Human Right Act has publicly stated that its usage has been perverted into something far beyond what he intended when he helped to design it – namely, the suppression of free speech in Canada.
While we clearly do not have anything as strong as your First Amendment, free speech is probably the most essential of all human rights. Without free speech, all other liberties become both secondary and tenuous.
To get back to the specific case, Fox News should be interviewing Mark Steyn if they want first-hand experience on free speech (or lack thereof) in Canada.
Susan Cole, the one they seem to be interviewing for no reason known to me, is Senior Entertainment Editor ((?) – I don’t find this even remotely entertaining) of NOW Magazine, a free publication in Toronto. NOW magazine has been published since 1981 and was started by (among others) former members of the Socialist League. The fact that the magazine has a history of endorsing New Democratic Party candidates (Canada’s mainstream Socialist Party) should tell you something. It’s the sort of publication that you pick up in case you run out of toilet paper or need to start a bonfire to roast some marshmallows.
As is generally the case in both Canada and the United States, the larger the city, the more likely it is to be of the progressive persuasion. Toronto (Canada’s largest city) has elected both Jack Layton (Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth and Leader of the NDP) and his wife, Olivia Chow (MP for Trinity-Spadina). A look at the electoral map will show you that the bulk of NDP MPs come either from urban areas or highly unionized rural areas. They have little support in Canada’s “flyover” zones”. At the risk of being taken to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, could it be that big cities are where you find latte-drinking white liberals at Starbucks, [not carrying, though, Ed.] a large contingency of “poor” people looking for any handout and a huge community of immigrants who all tend to vote progressive? Just a politically incorrect question.
I find it particularly egregious that this should have happened at a major Canadian University. One would think such a venue would be a hot-bed of political and social discourse – not a hot-bed of censorship. But it is apparent that the Canadian school system is as dominated by liberal thought as yours. Truly sad.
For what it’s worth, I apologize to all Americans generally and to Ms. Coulter in particular for my f#(ked-up country. I am truly mortified.
In Canada, we are no longer free. Don’t let it happen to you. You’re the world’s last hope.
Don, it’s become more difficult of late, but we’re trying. Thanks for the encouragement.
IAC, I think you may be too hard on Canada. You aren’t all “a bunch of girls named Francois.” Most aren’t, apparently: A CBC (?!) online poll (unscientific, and as of this posting) shows 69% of over 19,000 Canadians answer the question “Should Ann Coulter weigh her words when speaking to a Canadian audience?” with a “No.”
29% of your fellow citizens say “Yes.” Ignore it. Here that 29% would be the combined membership of the SEIU, ACORN, MoveOn, Obama’s administrative staff and Media Matters. Heck, 69% is just a bit more than the percentage of Americans who oppose Obamacare.
Then there are Canadian editorials, here, here and here proving all is not lost.
Finally, there’s question period in your House of Commons – something I wish we had here (question period, not Commons), because it produces gems like this (for those who do not know, the Hansard is the ongoing transcript of Canada’s Parliamentary proceedings and is like the Congressional Record, but more accurate):
(from the Hansard)
David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the darling of the reform-conservative-republican movement really outdid herself last night in Calgary. By addressing Canadian diversity, Ann Coulter said that diversity is not an advantage to a country like Canada. “It’s not a strength”, she continued. Then she went on to compare diversity to cancer. [Well? Ed.] From organizing speeches to putting on cocktails, the Conservative Party’s dirty little fingerprints are all over her Canadian tour.Will the Prime Minister immediately and publicly condemn Ann Coulter’s outrageous and intolerant views?
Hon. Jay Hill (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, you and the hon. member would know that his question has absolutely nothing to do with the business of government and should be disallowed.
The Deputy Speaker:
Order, please. I do not see that that is a business of government administration. I do see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister rising, so I will give him a chance to answer, but I caution members to keep their questions–
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a very important question about an American commentator who has come to this country with some outrageous comments: comments supporting the Iraq war, comments supporting the use of torture, and comments referring to Israel as a war criminal.But enough about the leader of the Liberal [the opposition party, Ed.] Party…
H/T five feet of fury. Click the link to read more.
2 thoughts on “The View from Dromore – Free Speech in Canada?”
Don't be ashamed, Don!!Susan G.(runt) Cole wins if we give up.Loved the post, Duane.The Hansard is so often hilarious, but this exchange makes the 'Top Ten'!
It is not just Canada, of course. The exact same thing goes on at U.S. universities. The left can simply not tolerate an honest exchange of ideas.More broadly, the left cannot tolerate anything less than total monopoly. Socialism cannot work on any scale if there is even one single major enclave of freedom remaining. It is why they are desperate to stamp out federalism within the U.S. It is why they are desperate to bring the U.S. down to the standard of Europe. Socialism cannot compete with freedom.I weep for Canada. I pray for the U.S.