Free speech advocate Ezra Levant reports today on his blog that a libel suit has been filed against him in which he is being sued for $50,000 by Warren Kinsella, who has been variously described elsewhere as a Toronto lawyer, Liberal Party insider, blogger and author of Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics.
Levant describes the suit as a “SLAPP,” a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Wikipedia defines SLAPP as:
“… a lawsuit or a threat of lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Winning the lawsuit is not necessarily the intent of the person filing the SLAPP. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate.”
Reading Levant’s blog entry, one does get the impression that the suit is an attempt to bully rather than a good faith attempt to defend a reputation. However, I’ll leave the courts to make the final assessment on that.
I have followed Levant’s trials and tribulations with the “human rights industry,” as he calls it for some time now. He is a lawyer himself and has a wide following among those of us who believe that Canada’s human rights commission and tribunals are making a mockery of our freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation.
Section 2(b) of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
And the the Supreme Court of Canada has stated that a wide and inclusionary approach to the interpretation of the Charter’s free expression guarantee is to be preferred.
Incredibly and shamefully so, these fundamental human rights and Charter guarantees of ours are under attack by minority groups within our society and by our own government agencies.
Fortunately for Canada, stalwarts like Ezra Levant are in the vanguard of a small force of defenders. Theirs is a time-consuming and costly battle, however, and we can only hope that reinforcements in the form of government legislation will arrive in time.
Surely freedom of expression is at the very foundation of our democracy. What more noble cause can there be for our politicians to take up and fight for on our behalf?