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Friday, May 21, 2010

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Clearing out the inbox - Civil rights roundup

The reason I haven’t been blogging much recently is that I have been proofreading a rather large but very interesting book, The Nature of Nature, the papers from the conference of that name in 2000. In it, all sides weigh in on the intelligent design controversy, from many angles. I hope to get back to regular blogging shortly.

Regular readers of this space will know that I take a keen interest in the assault on civil rights in Canada by “human rights” bodies, of which Canada has 14. These bodies essentially manufacture “rights” out of thin air, blundering into media, religion, entertainment, and just about anything else they think needs regulating (think: everything). For more, read Shakedown, Lights Out, or Tyranny of Nice.

Brave Canadians are beginning to fight back, but, sadly, too many wait until “human rights” strikes someone close to them. Then they run around shrieking “What’s happening?!”

Only what happened to all the people whose plight you ignored, fella. And now that it has happened to you, others will say, “Oh well, he must have done something wrong.”

Here is a roundup of recent events (not exhaustive), with comments interspersed. For regular coverage, go to MarkSteyn, Ezra Levant, Five Feet of Fury, Blazing Cat Fur, or Deborah Gyapong.

Next: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Court okay with government-dictated hiring practices for Christian groups

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Court okays government-dictated hiring practices for Christian groups

Christian Horizons is reported to have won in the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Horizons provides homes for seriously handicapped people in a Christian setting. The issue centred on an employee who - in contravention of a lifestyle code - was living a gay lifestyle. The Ontario “human rights” Commission came down very hard on Christian groups insisting on lifestyles in accord with Christian teachings. Horizons was exonerated by the Ontario Divisional Court, but only on such terms as no one would want to be exonerated - it is okay to be a Christian as long as you don’;t really mean it.

Of course, it wasn’t really a victory at all, despite crowing by groups such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

As Don Hutchinson observed (May 20, 2010) in The National Post,
The Ontario Divisional Court concluded that the job Ms. Heintz was doing was not impacted by her being involved in a same-sex relationship, contrary to the accepted practices of the faith community with which she was serving and contrary to her own signed acceptance of those practices before she started working there. Accordingly, they struck the “same sex relationship” provision from the lifestyle and morality policy of Christian Horizons, concluding Ms. Heintz had every right to work there.

... They have just issued a remedy that violates the very concepts they supported earlier in the decision when they approved of religious communities deciding what they believe and the practices that line up with those beliefs. They have also decided to ignore decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001 (Trinity Western University), 2002 (Syndicat Northcrest v Amselem) and 2009 (Alberta v Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony) which clearly state that once the court establishes that a practice has a nexus with a sincerely held religious belief it’s time to stop.
But it is never time to stop, once the principle is established that government is judge over Christian lifestyle teachings that go back two thousand years to the New Testament, teachings to which the charities’ employees have actually assented.

Columnist Charles Lewis notes (May 20, 2010) that Christian charities are now unclear about what’s allowed and what’s not. I can clear that matter up for them, pronto: What’s allowed is whatever the government happens to allow for now, as secular lobbies systematically dismantle the norms of traditional Christian communities.

The secular lobbies will be back for something else next.

Can anything change this situation? I doubt it. Few Christians, and especially not the Christian elite, have the stomach for it, and they would rather bash the working class brethren who embarrass them. Also, a person close to the Harper regime in Ottawa assures me that, despite window dressing, the regime has no intention whatever of reining in the “human rights” industry.

Harper knows full well that the secular lobbies will gain the ear of sympathetic media and Christians will continue to sneer at their brethren instead of rallying for the separation of church and state. A wise man once pointed out to me that the benefit of this approach is that the wolf is usually devouring someone else just now. If all serious Christians directed their resources against the wolf, it might be driven off, but all would need to take risks.

Next: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Will you have ice in that think?

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Libel chill: “Will you have ice in that think?”

Franklin Carter, at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee, writes me news re public and private censorship of books and periodicals. Today’s topic is libel chill.

Franklin notes that

The threat of legal action from mining giant Barrick Gold has forced Vancouver-based Talonbooks to postpone publication of a book about the Canadian mining industry.

Publisher Karl Siegler calls it a clear case of "libel chill" by one of Canada's largest mining companies.

CBC News reports, “[Publisher] Siegler described Imperial Canada as an examination of the political, legal and banking environment that has led 70 per cent of the world's mining companies to register in Canada.

... The letter gave Talonbooks seven days to hand over the manuscript of the book, which was in the process of being translated from French to English.

"We ignored it initially," Siegler said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Q cultural affairs show.

"As far as we were concerned, they had no right to demand or see copies of manuscripts that were in development prior to their public release. Anyone working on a book has a right to privacy and should not be subject to this kind of supervision."

But after receiving a legal letter, the translators immediately stopped work on the book. Siegler consulted a lawyer, who told him if he proceeded with the book, he could face years in court fighting an opponent with very deep pockets.

"Everyone involved stood to lose millions of dollars," Siegler said. "In the publisher's case, we stood to lose not just the company but all of the titles we have in print, roughly 500 titles dating back to the 1960s, many of which are Canadian classics."

In Quill & Quire, Stuart Woods updates: “Talonbooks president Kevin Williams has told Q&Q that the company is receiving pro bono legal representation from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and hopes to resume work on the manuscript for Imperial Canada soon.”

The safest conclusion to draw, in my view, is that those who engage in libel chill have a bad case. I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to Imperial Canada, but now I really must have one.

Just think! If everyone did as I plan to do, libel chill would become a much costlier strategy. Anticipated sales would both stiffen the publisher’s backbone and give the chiller pause.

Thanks to Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee.

Next: Intellectual freedom in Canada: “No Bad Bunnies for YOU, kid! Just “How Good Little Girls Learn to Say Correct Things”

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: “No Bad Bunnies for YOU, kid! Just “How Good Little Girls Learn to Say Correct Things”

Franklin Carter offers a link to an interesting article on people trying to get books banned from libraries, usually on the theory that children will be corrupted by them.

These people give me a pain in the ear because, if they are the parents, why don’t they choose their own child’s reading material? If not, how do they know that other people’s children will be offended? And why should they make the decision, rather than those children’s own parents?

The reality is that if no one takes the book out, after a while, it will be withdrawn from circulation without comment. If we think that a book teaches kids really bad values, we should advise others discreetly, not create a big public uproar that provides free advertising and enables both author and publisher to parade as martyrs.

Thanks to Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee.

Next: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Go to jail to protect your sources? Maybe you will have to.

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Go to jail to protect your sources? Maybe you will have to.

Journalists have no constitutional right to protect confidential sources at all costs, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last Friday.

The court ruled 8-1 against the National Post and reporter Andrew McIntosh who sought to quash a search warrant issued in the Shawinigate affair almost a decade ago.

The news is not all bad. Here’s Canadian Journalists for Free Expression on the case:
The court case involved the National Post and former Post reporter Andrew McIntosh and revolved around a search warrant issued almost ten years ago to McIntosh demanding that he turn over to the police an envelope he received from a confidential source. McIntosh refused, believing that he would not be able to protect the confidentiality of his source in doing so, and so the case went to court. The document contained in the envelope is now believed to have been a forgery and is considered to be of some significance as it appeared to implicate former Prime Minister Jean Chretien in a financial conflict of interest.

The first ruling was a victory for the Post and McIntosh, but was later reversed by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court's decision today gave some new protection to the journalists/source relationship, but still maintains that the onus remains on the media to prove that the injury would be greater than the benefit involved in disclosure. CJFE along with 10 other free expression and media organizations had intervened in the case, and we had hoped that this onus would be reversed.

"Although not a win for the National Post on the facts of the case, this decision is the strongest statement yet by our courts as to the basis on which the law protects journalists' confidential sources," said Phil Tunley, lawyer and member of CJFE's board. "It establishes the analytical balance that must now be applied by all our courts in any legal proceedings to set that protection aside."
However, the Canadian Association of Journalists is profoundly disappointed:
The Supreme Court ruled this morning that former National Post reporter Andrew McIntosh must give police documents leaked to him while he was investigating the Shawinigate affair. RCMP intend to conduct forensic tests on the documents and the envelope they came in to determine who McIntosh's source is and whether the source leaked forged documents intended to discredit former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"This is a significant blow to every journalist's ability to protect whistleblowers who come forward with information that's in the public interest," said CAJ President Mary Agnes Welch. "We fear this will have a profound chilling effect."

The CAJ was part of a coalition of media organizations including the Canadian Newspaper Association, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association and many others that had intervenor status in the case.

One benefit is clarification of what the Supreme Court thinks the law should say. A great difficulty in Canada and a number of other countries has been lack of clarity. Every judge her own Solomon is not the solution either. One problem for media is that, like serious Christians and Jews, they are a minority, and often one that is disliked, so even if this ruling silences whistle-blowers, no outrage will follow. Too many people will just decide to keep their mouths shut about whatever happened.

A number of media weighed in, of course: CBC News, CTV News, Kirk Makin of The Globe and Mail, Shannon Kari of the National Post (also timeline of the Shawinigate affair), Canadian Press,
Tonda MacCharles of the Toronto Star, Janice Tibbetts of the CanWest News Service

Thanks to Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee.

For more intellectual freedom in Canada news, jump to Intellectual freedom in Canada: Everybody saw Mohammed, it seems

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Everybody saw Mohammed, it seems

Blogger Blazing Cat Fur did something really edgy recently: He sponsored an Everybody Draw Mohammed contest, commemorating the Danish cartoon riots. Mark Steyn reflects on the contest:
Veronique, I initially had mixed feelings about Everybody Draws Mohammed Day. Provocation for its own sake is one of the dreariest features of contemporary culture, but that's not what this is about. Nick Gillespie's post reminds us that the three most offensive of the "Danish cartoons" — including the one showing Mohammed as a pig —were not by any Jyllands-Posten cartoonists but were actually faked by Scandinavian imams for the purposes of stirring up outrage among Muslims. As Mr Gillespie says:

It is nothing less than amazing that holy men decrying the desecration of their religion would create such foul images, but there you have it. It is as if the pope created “Piss Christ” and then passed it off as the work of critics of Catholicism.

So, if it really is a sin to depict Mohammed, then these imams will be roasting in hell.
Steyn goes on to point out that what Blazing is really doing is urging everyone to spread the risk.

Some might ask, well, how would I feel if people made fun of my religion? Actually, they do all the time. I prefer to live in a country where they can, and I am free to ignore them, and the civil service and freelance shakedown artists who want to interfere must seek other employment. Ah, if only, ...

And anyway, the extremist imams brought the battle to us. We did not bring it to them.

Intellectual freedom in Canada: At Erosion of Freedom hearings, senator grants immortality to freedom blogger Kathy Shaidle

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: At Erosion of Freedom hearings, senator grants immortality to freedom blogger Kathy Shaidle

Blogger Kathy “Five Feet of Fury” Shaidle has been immortalized in Hansard, the proceedings of the Senate of Canada, by Senator Eaton, who said (April 13, 2010),
It’s Canada’s “human rights commissions”, which would have struck George Orwell as being perfectly named.

These commissions were started with the best of intentions – to help the poor and the weak from being bullied out of a job or an apartment. But they have become censors, policing not death threats or incitement to violence, or any other real crime, but rather the fake crime of hurt feelings.

They have become what author Kathy Shaidle calls a “ Tyranny of Nice ”.
Eaton also poignantly remembers great moments in Canadian history, when freedom of speech was protected, for example,
In 1935, exactly a century after Howe’s acquittal, across the country in Alberta, William Aberhart became premier, and like the political elites of Howe’s Halifax, he found Alberta’s newspapers to be troublesome and offensive.

Aberhart’s election came in the face of nearly universal opposition by the newspapers of the day. By 1937, he was so frustrated that he introduced the Accurate News and Information Act, that required every newspaper in the province to run a rebuttal or a “correction or amplification” when ordered to do so by the government.

Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor refused to proclaim the law until the Supreme Court could assess its constitutionality; he was punished by being stripped of his official residence, car and staff. Even without that law, Aberhart prosecuted his war against the press. The Alberta Legislature ordered that a reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Don Brown, be jailed for misquoting a government back-bencher. Luckily, national ridicule caused the government to back down before they could arrest him.

In the spring of 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that Alberta’s Press Act was illegal, and that it violated Canada’s unwritten bill of rights – the same code of freedom that had protected Joseph Howe. And for its efforts in fighting against Aberhart’s censorship, the Edmonton Journal was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize, the first time the citation was awarded outside of the United States.
But, sometimes I wonder if Canada’s media has changed, somehow. Too many seem to want to suck up to government (if Liberal) or the Opposition (if Liberal), perhaps on the theory that falling circulation numbers will somehow be replaced with government grants. Yes, the government would own the newspaper - but in truth it already did.

Better still, Kathy Shaidle, the girl immortalized in the Senate hearings on the decline in freedom of speech, also turns out to be a member of a proposed “victim group,” the shicksa.

Seriously, however, there is a long and uphill road ahead. Successfully fighting off challenges and getting commended in the Senate are wonderful news. But they mean little in the long run.

The increasingly oppressive anti-free speech laws remain in place, defended by iron rice bowls. Meanwhile, many people must now settle into reduced lifestyle expectations. So there will be relentless pressure to expand the “victim” racket. And how many politicians can resist the votes? The only hope is for self-identified non-victims to simply oppose it all, hammer and tongs, and make our votes count too.

If we want to be free, let’s make the fact that we do not want money from government a strength, not a weakness.

See also: Intellectual freedom in Canada: In Toronto, Nazis are considered victims of “hate crimes” - no, really!

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: In Toronto, Nazis are considered victims of “hate crimes” - no, really!

Well, it had to happen, right? See here. Yaacov Ben Moshe comments,
This really is a shocker! Bernie [Farber, Canadian Jewish Congress head] makes a career out of making sure that a person's statements are judged not by their validity and truth but rather by whether or not they cause distress or foster hatred and then he is surprised that even Nazis can have distress and be "victims" of hatred.

We are all victims now, it seems. Just think how the poor National Socialists must fell! Millions of Jews throwing themselves into trenches and shooting themselves in the back or gassing themselves and burning their own bodies in furnaces with the the poor, stunned Nazis standing by in helpless horror! And, still, sixty years later, they are blamed, even reviled and insulted, by the world for the "jew caused disaster" they were powerless to avert.

Too bad, Bernie did not see this coming. Maybe he was too busy building himself a career and a ridiculously inflated reputation on bad law and phony victimology to see where it would lead...

Ben Moshe lives here.

First off, I don’t know how many Nazis there are in Canada who do not work for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. All that this really demonstrates is that anyone at all can play “victim of hate crime,” which is why the concept, and the system it spawns, is inherently corrupt.
Hat tip: Blazing Cat Fur

See also: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Freedom crusader Barbara Kay, on video

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Freedom crusader Barbara Kay, on video

Barbara Kay and her son Jonathan are two fearless columnists at the National Post, who speak out against dumbing down, victimology, political correctness, and other disastrous social trends. I heard her speak the other night, and here is a vid.

Kay was refreshing because she was even-handed. She spoke of the persecution mentality generally, mentioning - for example - the administrative and student council hounding of pro life student groups on campus, as well as the “diversity” racket in general.

Diversity racket: All types of diversity are accepted at a university except intellectual diversity. I would say, don’t give your alma mater another cent until it dumps faux diversity in favour of the real, intellectual diversity for which a university exists.

Otherwise, why fund it? If all you want is diversity, as such, help fund the Toronto Transit Commission! They are on a fundraising tear just now, with the Mayor of Toronto coming on the public address system every ten minuters, recently, telling people to write to the Premier about it.

Hat tip: Blazing Cat Fur

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