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Friday, June 12, 2009

Human rights commissions? Fire them all

Every year across Canada we spend tens of millions of dollars on “human rights,” to the point that we have established a parallel legal system to ensure our rights—which already are enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and enforceable in our courts—are additionally protected by career bureaucrats and quasi-judicial tribunals. Does this make sense?

Despite the enormous expenditure, a growing number of Canadians believe they have fewer rights of expression and less freedom of speech than before the establishment of special commissions and tribunals and the enactment of the legislation under which they operate.

More recently, the commissions have been mandated to protect us from the Internet, which apparently is a dangerous breeding ground for hatred and discrimination. Their mandate here is Sec. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), which prohibits the repeated electronic transmission of messages on:

… any matter that is likely 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.”

In short, Sec. 13 covers the right not to have our feelings hurt. Mind you, not all Canadians are protected, only those who “… are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.” So, for example, as a straight, un-handicapped, white male of Christian background, I apparently receive no protection here. So I guess you are all free to expose me to hatred or contempt. My feelings don’t seem to matter [sob].

In answer to complaints that the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) had overreached itself in its pursuit of alleged hate speech on the Internet (i.e., Sec. 13 violations), Prof. Richard Moon, an expert on freedom of expression, was hired by the CHRC to review the situation. He sensibly recommended that the Sec. 13 be repealed, and that the prosecution of extreme speech be left to the Criminal Code.

After spending $52,000 for Prof. Moon’s report,

Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner of the CHRC has spent several thousands more on polls and recently released her own report. She defends Sec. 13 against those she believes are “manipulating information and activities around rights cases and freedom of expression” to destroy the human rights commissions and tribunals themselves.

I’m not sure about “manipulating information and activities,” that’s her own self-serving interpretation. On wanting to destroy the human rights commissions and tribunals, however, she is right on the mark. Many Canadians do want them shut down entirely, not just out of the business of regulating free speech. And I am one of them.

For anyone who wonders why I want to go that far, I point them to Ezra Levant’s excellent book, Shakedown, in which he details abuses of the human-rights bodies. Here’s how Mr. Levant sums up the most recent report from the CHRC:

We’ve got a Canadian Human Rights Commission that thinks censorship is some sort of ‘human right’. It is so operationally corrupt that it thinks issuing a report card about its own behaviour is legitimate conduct for a government agency. It so despises the public—and holds their intelligence in such contempt—that it thinks the country will forget that Prof. Moon has already recommended that their censorship powers be repealed. It is so naturally Orwellian that it thinks it can invent counterfeit human rights, like the ‘right to be respected’, merely by coining those forgeries, and dressing them up as ‘modern’ ‘rights’ ‘matrixes’, and other such legal junk.

The establishment of the human rights commissions and tribunals was perhaps well intentioned. At this point, however, the entire group is so discredited they have become a travesty and ought to be disbanded.

Some of the enormous savings that will be realized can be used to ease the additional financial burden on the courts that could result as they adjudicate real cases of human rights abuses.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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