Canada's Human Rights Commissions a Threat to Academic Freedom: US Academic Elites

Canuckistans Malaise

By Hilary White/Life Site News

* Yeah. Just ask Ezra Levant or Mark Steyn, they’ll tell ya…

Dean Steacy, a leading official wanker of the HRC:  “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

OTTAWA, August 27, 2008 ( – Canada is a “problematic” destination for a conference on political thought because of the predilection of its Human Rights Commissions (HRC) for squashing freedom of expression says a number of American intellectuals.

The group of U.S. academics is circulating a petition asking the American Political Science Association (APSA) not to hold its annual convention in Toronto next year for fear that some of its members will be subject to human rights prosecutions if they speak or write about controversial subjects.

“Our belief is that most Americans – even APSA members – have no idea how precarious the rights of freedom of speech and conscience are in Canada,” said Bradley Watson, professor of American and Western political thought at Pennsylvania’s St. Vincent College.


Watson told the National Post that Canada’s lack of protection for free speech, as demonstrated by the recent prosecutions of conservative journalists by the HRCs, is an impediment for an organisation that supports no particular political agenda, either left or right. The American Political Science Association is the largest association for political thinkers in the world and is constitutionally bound to complete neutrality and total academic freedom to investigate, publish and speak on all political subjects.

“Our belief is that the APSA should choose its sites carefully, with particular regard for questions of freedom of speech and conscience. We therefore believe Canada to be a problematic destination,” Watson said.

The petition says that the Canadian government, under the auspices of the HRCs, “have recently sought to suppress speech and impose legal penalties on speakers” who have expressed opinions on “the morality of homosexual conduct and the question of legal recognition of same-sex unions”,  and “the threat to freedom posed by violent extremists acting in the name of Islam.” This is, the petitioners assert, “speech that, according to all accounts, would be protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

The group fears that with Human Rights Commission cases against Maclean’s Magazine, Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant, Catholic Insight magazine, Pastor Stephen Boissoin and others, government suppression of academic freedom is a logical next step.

The petition says, “[T]he writ of Canada’s HRCs runs without evident limit to encompass any speech, academic or otherwise, to which potential complainants take ‘offense’.”

The “arbitrariness and procedurally unconstrained practices of the HRCs create an air of uncertainty regarding whose speech, on what subjects, before what audiences, will be targeted next.”

David Warren, a political columnist and foreign affairs correspondent writing for the Ottawa Citizen, called the Human Rights Commissions a relentless “Kafkaesque bureaucracy.”

“The septic idea of policing public opinion has spread rapidly through many Canadian institutions, under tireless pressure from activists of various kinds – feminist, homosexual, Islamist, and miscellaneous leftist – who hold the notion of free speech in contempt.”

When asked recently in an interview “what value” he gives to freedom of speech when investigating complaints, Dean Steacy, a leading official of the HRC, replied, “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

The success of the HRCs to suppress freedom of expression, Warren wrote, “depends on the obsequious response of our political class – Conservatives and Liberals alike – who tend to wet themselves at the first shrieking note from a radical lunatic.”

The fight against the abuses of the Human Rights Commissions is continuing. Although some of the complaints have been dropped against Ezra Levant, the former editor of the Western Standard magazine, he still faces multiple complaints in other provinces and civil suits over various items that appeared in his magazine and on his blog.

After 18 months of legal proceedings, at a cost of $20,000, the complaint was also dropped against Catholic Insight magazine. Stephen Boissoin, however, was ordered by the HRC to publicly renounce his Christian beliefs by issuing an apology for having spoken out against homosexualist activism, and pay a fine of Cn. $7000. He was ordered never to express his views against homosexuality again in any public forum.

Read related coverage:

Alberta Pastor Fined $7000 and Ordered to Publicly Apologize and Remain Silent on Homosexuality

Human Rights Commission Drops Complaint Against Catholic Magazine

More of’s extensive coverage of the Human Rights Commissions here:…

Canada’s Human Rights Commissions pawns in the hands of “political Islam”

Ain’t it the truth, B’nai Brith?

“Rights bodies vulnerable to ‘political Islam’: B’nai Brith: ‘Human rights commissions just don’t get it,'” by Joseph Brean for the National Post, August 30:

Canada’s human rights commissions have shown “a disastrous combination of investigative zeal and substantive ignorance” that has left them vulnerable to abuse by “political Islam,” the same ideology that has hijacked the United Nations human rights council, according to B’nai Brith Canada.In a submission to an independent review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s hate speech mandate, the Jewish human rights group states that “when it comes to this particular threat to human rights, human rights commissions just don’t get it.”

Human rights commissions, like generals, are fighting the last war. They do not see new threats until they are overwhelmed by them. If, out of generosity than for no other reason, we should assume ignorance rather than wilful blindness, then the remedy is education and training,” reads the report, written by B’nai Brith’s senior legal counsel, David Matas.

His central thesis is that political Islam, an ideology that seeks to limit freedoms by marshalling the power of the state in defence of religion, constitutes the gravest threat to Canada’s human rights system. He points to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an international Muslim group that “successfully hijacked UN institutions to impose its own radicalized agenda,” and to the utter failure of many UN anti-racism initiatives, which have degenerated into outright anti-Semitism.

The Canadian Islamic Congress, which brought three high-profile human rights complaints of Islamophobia against Maclean’s magazine, and has close ties to the OIC, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Tarek Fatah, the co-founder of the reform-minded Muslim Canadian Congress, said Canadians are “not at all” aware that Islamists are “using Western law to attack Western values.”

Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have any interest in this. Their effort is to appease these Islamist groups. They don’t wish to offend, and therefore the Islamists can walk over and literally blackmail politicians and the liberal intelligentsia into not saying a word about it,” he said.

Mr. Fatah described the Islamist strategy as two-fold. Non-Muslim critics of Islam are labelled “Islamophobic,” which is equated in the public mind with racism, one of the most serious accusations in civil society. Muslim critics, however, such as Mr. Fatah himself, are labelled “apostates,” which he called a “hidden death threat.”

It is this context that Canada’s human rights commissions have failed to appreciate, the B’nai Brith report says.

It singles out Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, for her “egregious” and “appalling” treatment of the complaint against Maclean’s, which she dismissed as out of her jurisdiction, but went on to denounce the magazine for racism. Mr. Matas said this “made a human rights threat more acute.”


Canadian intelligence officials ask Muslim leaders for help, get none

What are the implications of this for the idea that the jihadists constitute a Tiny Minority of Extremists among Muslims? Why, none, of course. The article here seems to consider the possibility only that Canadian officials have alienated the Muslim community with their ham-handed anti-terror efforts — a fanciful notion at best.

“Canadian intelligence seeks support of Muslim leaders,” by Ajit Jain for Rediff, August 27 

[…] The Muslim leaders were invited for the round table as Canada’s [Images] spy agency is reportedly frightened of potential terrorist attacks on Canadians and now are seeking the help of Muslim leaders.”I want you to help… Us doing it alone is like one hand clapping,” Ellis told the group on August 16 in Toronto.

Not many Muslims were interested in attending this round table and in fact some e-mails were reportedly circulated advising Muslim leaders to stay away from the meeting.

Ellis admitted that attendance was small, which was unfortunate for him. He conceded that prior to the meeting, certain opinion makers in the Muslim community had circulated e-mails suggesting it was best to give the meeting a pass, since no high level political officials from Ottawa were there.

It happened as “the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, CSIS and other agencies have lost credibility,” one of about 20 Muslims who came for the meeting reportedly stood up to tell Ellis.

His reference was to 18 young Muslims who were arrested two years back for allegedly conspiring to commit terrorist acts within the country, targeting important buildings and some political leaders. Charges against many of them have been dropped.

“We don’t target the Muslim community; we are trying to work with you,” Ellis said. He reportedly stressed that CSIS and RCMP lawfully zero in on the tiny percentage of Muslims who are drawn towards violent extremism, and urged Muslim leaders to get past ‘urban legend’ and read up on what judges are actually finding….

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