Saturday, June 13, 2009
Only in Canada you say!
Jennifer Lynch, head of the CHRC and renowned international gadabout.
This is nothing short of incredible. But, this is also Canada.
What a country!
Here is the background.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), which has been under fire and public scrutiny for the last 18 months, has issued a report to the Canadian Parliamentary Judicial Committee recommending that, among other things,, not only should it continue in the business of prosecuting hate speech, but that the defense of honest belief in the truth of the statements being prosecuted should be removed from the Criminal Code of Canada.
In case you are not up to speed. Hate speech is a criminal offense in Canada under its uniform criminal code (applies to all of Canada). It is aimed at very serious speech; e.g., something that would advocate violence against an identifiable group, say Jews or Muslims or gays.
But, like any criminal offense under the code it has all the protections that have been incorporated in our criminal justice system since the 13th century. Aside from issues such as burden of proof (the prosecutor’s), beyond reasonable doubt (the prosecutor’s), and the presumption of innocence which attach to criminal prosecutions, it also has statutory defenses; like, it is a defense that the accused honestly believed the truth of the statements made, or that the statements were, in fact, factually true.
None of these applies to prosecutions under CHRC, which is why we have had numerous prosecutions under that mandate, and very few pursuant to the criminal code. Therefore, the thrust of the CHRC is that the criminal justice system should bring itself more in line with the Human Rights tribunal’s protocol rather than the reverse.
This is nothing short of astonishing, given the history of this debate.
When the CHRC came under attack for its attempts to muzzle free speech in the media, it commissioned what it thought would be a self-serving report from Professor Richard Moon, of the University of Windsor, a known human rights advocate. It paid $50,000 of your money for that report.
Money well spent if you are a taxpayer, but not if you are a recipient of an income from the public trough, like the folks who work in the CHRC. Moon recommended that CHRC should get out of the hate speech prosecution arena and leave it in the hands of the police.
Sorry, message not received. Answer, commission the report we really want and didn’t get from Moon. How much? About $100,000 of your money.
Now here is the funny part.
Yes, there actually is something funny.
The head of the CHRC, Jennifer Lynch, (pictured above), who globe trots on your dollar quite a lot to bring herself up to speed on human rights was invited by the national television network, CTV, to discuss her recommendations on a public affairs program. This was good, because she recommended a public debate of the issue of free speech versus hate speech and she agreed to appear.
Then she discovered that the television network had also invited Ezra Levant, who has been the subject of prosecution by human rights bodies and who has written a best-selling book critical of the human rights industry (in Canada, that is an appropriate term). She would have nothing to do with the program if Levant was allowed to debate her – the queen of censorship proclaiming censorship of Levant. She sent a nice young flunky in her place, but he was instructed not to debate Levant (presumably on pain of job loss – oh, how censorship weaves itself into all sorts of nooks and crannies), and was only to spin the public relations line of what a wonderful contribution the CHRC makes to Canadian democracy.
Think I am making this up? Paste the following link in your browser and watch the video for yourself. It’s about 14 minutes in length and starts with a short commercial, so be patient, because what follows is priceless.