Canada is no longer a free country. That’s the inescapable conclusion for anyone following the country’s “human rights” tribunals. For five days straight, starting on June 2, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal held a hearing in Vancouver to determine whether National Review’s Mark Steyn and the Canadian newsweekly Maclean’s should be fined or censured. The offense? Maclean’s printed an excerpt from Steyn’s bestselling book America Alone. The excerpt in question argued that, owing to demographic trends, the Western world will increasingly be forced to confront the problems of radical Islam. The Canadian Islamic Congress — a radical Muslim group whose founder, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, once claimed on Canadian radio that all adult Israelis were justifiable targets of Palestinian violence — objected. The group filed a complaint with the national government’s human-rights commission, and those of two provinces. These commissions were originally set up to address basic questions in discrimination law, such as discriminatory hiring or housing practices. However, the national commission’s overzealous prosecution of a white-supremacist leader eventually led to the 1990 Canadian Supreme Court decision Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Taylor. Since the ruling, Canadian law has been interpreted to mean that human-rights commissions, whether at the provincial or national level, have the authority to impose civil penalties on those responsible for any “telecommunication” 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.” Ever since, human-rights commissions have been stomping all over the Canadian charter of rights; in their attempt to take on Steyn and Maclean’s, their hubris may have reached its zenith. The tribunal in Vancouver was, as expected, a complete travesty. Such tribunals determine guilt, but are largely administrative in process: There are no evidentiary rules, no standards for due process, and no basic legal protections for the accused; truth isn’t necessarily a defense. Meanwhile, the state picks up the tab for the complainants’ representation, while the accused can incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. (National Review)
The fact that Canada is not a free country any longer really doesn’t bother too many people. Whether the Star Chambers are making people fork over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars before dropping their case against Canadian citizens or whether its the other type of Star Chamber telling us that abortionists are Canadian heroes, everyone’s just groovy with the arrangement.