You've heard of 'junk science.' Now consider 'junk law'
By Link Byfield
The best TV show in recent days was not on any channel, it was on EzraLevant.com. It's still there. Go look. It's a classic.
Ezra Levant is a Calgary lawyer and a personal friend of mine. On his web site you can watch him demolishing government "human rights investigator" Shirlene McGovern with the most unrelenting and articulate defence of free speech I have ever heard.
In February 2006 Ezra's magazine, the Western Standard (now closed), became the only medium in Canada brave enough to publish the controversial "Danish cartoons" criticizing Islam. Other media refused because, frankly, they were afraid of being bombed.
As we all know, but are now afraid to say, Muslims on average take criticism badly. These innocuous, obscure Danish cartoons set off deadly Muslim riots in Europe and the Middle East. (You can see the cartoons on Ezra's Web site.)
Two Muslim complaints to the Alberta government, demanding money and an apology from the Western Standard, triggered a human rights investigation. McGovern is the government bureaucrat assigned to do it.
Ezra insisted he be allowed to video-record McGovern's interrogation, and he has posted much of it on EzraLevant.com. His replies are so devastating it's almost painful to watch.
She can't have met many like him. Instead of Levant answering McGovern, McGovern ends up answering Levant. He is relentless and unapologetic, and demands to know why a government official like her feels entitled to investigate and punish his political views.
He tells her he fully expects to be found guilty of discrimination. He welcomes it. As he points out, there has never been any other finding in these kangaroo "human rights" courts except guilty. If someone in a government-protected group complains, the accused is obviously guilty – otherwise the complaint would not have been made. Such is the thinking.
Many victims of this abusive process – including me – have made these points over the years, but never with the vehemence, clarity and controlled outrage of Ezra Levant.
At one point he tells McGovern that Muslim complainants will not relent until McGovern herself is wearing a burqa and Ezra is paying the Jewish tax levied in Muslim countries.
His intent in publishing the cartoons, he told her, was to inform, but for the record he will state that his intent was to offend. Such is the right of free speech in a free country, and how dare the government of Alberta dictate whether his opinions – or anyone else's – are "reasonable"? Public offence is the price of political freedom and social progress.
And how dare the government of Alberta mandate bureaucrats to order people to apologize? No law in Canada compels sex-murderer Karla Homolka to apologize. How can the government of Alberta demand of Ezra Levant that he lie about feeling remorse for an offence he does not admit having committed, an offence which so clearly should enjoy the protection of free speech?
Levant is plainly heading for the Supreme Court of Canada. I'm saddened to say there he will find no relief. The SCC has already ruled that discrimination exists if people of a protected status feel discriminated against. Truth is not a defence. Objective proof is not necessary. Free speech is not a defence. This has recently become settled law.
The only solution, I believe, lies with the politicians who passed these Draconian anti-discrimination acts across Canada 30 and 40 years ago. And only cases like Ezra's will force them to deal with it.
The acts should either be repealed entirely, or substantially revised. People, of course, "discriminate" all the time, and must. We discriminate when we pick our friends, our clients, our neighborhoods, our children's companions, our politicians, our tenants, our taxi drivers, our employees, our customers, our lifestyles, our churches, our opinions, our entertainment and our spouses.
If we insist on the government approving which of these discriminatory acts of ours are "reasonable," at least let guilt or innocence be decided by a jury of ordinary citizens, not by agenda-driven bureaucrats and political flunkies with a "strong background in equality issues." Let it be before a properly constituted and independent provincial court, not a hanging-court with no rules of evidence convened by some second-tier provincial government ministry. Don't give every left-liberal cause-pleading government-funded "equality" group in Canada a right to intervene. Let the complainant, not the government, have responsibility to pursue the complaint. And let the complainant, if he loses, pay the costs of the unjustly accused, as with any other civil litigation.
And finally, let the law clearly stipulate that the traditional freedoms of speech, association and belief are more important to our society than the right of this or that professional complainer to feel "equal."
On this basis, freedom and justice would once again prevail. In fact, human rights cases would soon disappear. If the government stopped paying people to complain, they would stop complaining.
But until we have politicians with the courage and clarity of conviction to act, and news media with the guts and brains to write about it honestly, we should thank Ezra Levant for defying this "junk law" (his phrase), and support him.
That web site, again, is EzraLevant.com.
Link Byfield is an Alberta senator-elect and chairman of the Citizens Centre. The Centre promotes the principles of personal freedom and responsible government.