Saturday, April 04, 2009

An authentic Canadian hero

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman
Ezra Levant, popularly known in some quarters as Ezra the Rant, has written an eloquent and powerful polemic Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy In The Name of Human Rights. The target of his righteous wrath is Canada's so-called Human Rights Commissions.
The very name of these commissions is misleading. They serve mainly to suppress and subvert the fundamental rights and freedoms they are supposed to safeguard and exhance.
Levant is one of the most famous victims. His troubles began in 2006, when Syed Soharwardy, the Islamist imam of a tiny mosque in Calgary, filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (AHRCC), accusing him of inciting hatred for Muslims.
At issue was Levant's decision as publisher of The Western Standard to republish a controversial set of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad. In the letter of complaint to the Commission, Sohwardwari stated: "I am quite disturbed and mentally tortured by the cartoons." He also accused Levant of inciting "violence, hate and discrimination against me and my family."
Prior to enactment of Canada's so-called human rights codes, there would never have been any question about Levant's right in law to publish cartoons that might offend some readers. Likewise, there never would have been any legal dispute about the right of Maclean's newsmagazine to republish an extract from Mark Steyn's best-selling book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.
Today, anyone in Canada who says or writes anything that might offend some privileged group in human rights law could be prosecuted. Levant notes that he is "the first journalist in the free world to be grilled by a government inquisitor about the cartoons. Not even the Danish cartoonists themselves were called in to answer for what they'd done. Nor had any of the newspapers throughout Europe that had republished the cartoons.
"I had the dubious honour of being a pioneer in the burgeoning field of Western Islamo-censorship."
Canada is also the only democracy in which anyone has been prosecuted for publishing extracts of Steyn's book. That's disgraceful. Canada, formerly one of the freest nations on Earth, now has the worst record in the free world for transgressing freedom of the press.
Granted, both Levant and Maclean's have been exonerated by the HRC's and tribunals that placed them under investigation. But that's hardly reassuring. As Levant points out, "the process is the punishment." During three stressful years of battling the Canadian and Alberta HRCs, he ran up several hundred thousand dollars in legal bills.
That's typical. The defendant before a human rights tribunal gets stuck with a legal bill that would financially ruin most Canadians, while all costs of the accuser are picked up by the prosecuting HRC.
Moreover, even the best counsel can do little to protect anyone who has been wrongly accused by an HRC, because the kangaroo courts run by our human rights tribunals routinely flout the fundamental rules of evidence and judicial procedure that have evolved over centuries to protect the innocent in a regular court of law.
On the advice of counsel, most innocent victims of an HRC complaint dare not even attempt to defend themselves. Levant is different. Instead of capitulating, he has stoutly resisted the petty tyrants in the HRCs.
Early in the cartoons affair, the Alberta commission tried to shake him down, by offering to drop the case if he agreed to publish an apology in his magazine and pay several thousands dollars to Soharwardi.
Levant summarily refused. He relates: "I replied that I would fight the AHRCC and their hijackers all the way to the Supreme Court before I did that -- and even if I lost there, I'd contemplate doing jail time for contempt of court before apologizing."
Levant is a hero. All Canadians should honour him for defending their rights, and support the growing national movement that he and Steyn have ignited to persuade our federal and provincial legislators to curb, if not altogether abolish, Canada's rights-destroying HRCs.

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