Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coren on human rights commissions

The Michael Coren Show had a panel discussion on Tuesday night about the Canadian federal and provincial human rights commissions and their mandate to protect us from “hate speech.” The panel consisted of Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Toronto-based lawyer and Liberal party insider Warren Kinsella, blogger Mike Brock and Noa Mendelsohn Aviv of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The show comes hard on the heels of the Conservative Party’s vote at the recent policy convention to remove authority from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related to Section 13 (hate messages) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The show was fine as far as it went, which was not far enough. Mr. Coren seemed to imply that there will be more to come on the subject.

Mike Brock held his own and contributed positively to the debate, arguing against government agencies policing our words, etc. As did Noa Mendelsohn Aviv who I thought was the star of the show.

Mr. Farber was, by far, the week link on the panel. He had no insight to offer other than the sense that he did not like people saying nasty things about Jews and that those who did should be dealt with. Hmm …. An understandable position given who he represents, I suppose, but I did not think he contributed much of substance.

Warren Kinsella seemed uncomfortable. He seems the type who likes to be centre of attention in these sorts of discussions and that certainly was not the case last night. He was soft spoken and quite proper, however, not the abrasive aggressive Liberal “war room” fellow, whose hatred of conservative views is almost palpable.

And, surprisingly, Kinsella didn’t seem to have a particularly sound grasp of the subject. Not the legalities, of course, he’s a lawyer. But the more philosophical aspect of state-control of expression. Just my opinion, I’m sure he has many supporters, otherwise we would not have Sec. 13 (1) in the first place.

In the end, the show added nothing new to this important debate—I don’t think this panel was strong enough to do that. Steve Paikin’s The Agenda on TVO does a better job on these serious subjects.

But let’s hope there is another show on this subject soon.

This episode of the show will be repeated today at noon.smleaf

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