Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alberta’s Human Rights and Citizenship Commission: Justice delayed/justice denied

Consider this: seven years ago, the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald published an editorial condemning the use of suicide bombers, and suggesting the death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy might have been used in a propaganda campaign urging children to martyrdom.

Readers flooded the newspapers with letters and nine Muslim and Palestinian organizations lodged human-rights complaints, claiming the editorial was likely to incite hatred or contempt toward Palestinian Arabs and Muslims.

Nothing unusual here—this is Canada 2009, after all. Such challenges to freedom of speech are virtually routine. Publish anything critical of an identifiable group and you’re sure to incur the ire of some hyper-sensitive organization.

Alberta’s Human Rights and Citizenship Commission took seven years to deliver its decision to dismiss all complaints. Yes, seven years.

Two unusual aspects of this decision. First, the inordinate length of time between the alleged offence and the ruling by the commission’s director, Marie Riddle—seven years. Is this considered acceptable by the Alberta government?

Secondly, all nine offences were dismissed. Could it be that the unfavourable publicity gained by human rights commissions and tribunals across the nation has made the Alberta group gun-shy? That’s my guess.

Were it not for the furor caused by high profile cases such as those involving Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn/Maclean's magazine I doubt these complaints would have met such a just fate. I’m also reminded that this follows hard on the heels of Judge Athanasios Hadjis’s Marc Lemire decision.

This is just another example of the human rights community in full retreat to save their skins and cushy jobs.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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