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Is Freedom Coming Back to Canada? First Cracks Appear in ‘Human Rights’ Machine

By Lee Duigon
September 25, 2009

“Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling.”

—C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe[1]

Is freedom of speech about to be restored in Canada? Is Canada’s repressive “human rights” regime about to come to an end?

As this summer drew to an end, two unprecedented events seemed to herald change.

For the first time ever, on September 16–17, a victim of a human rights tribunal had his day in a real court of law.

For the first time ever, the week before Labor Day, a human rights tribunal acquitted a defendant.

Boissoin Case in Court

Seven years ago, Rev. Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to his local newspaper in Alberta, metaphorically declaring war on homosexual activism and blasting the provincial government’s policy of using public education to promote the homosexual lifestyle.[2] In 2008 the Alberta human rights commission levied $7,000 in fines on the preacher, ordered him to publicly recant his beliefs, and ordered him banned for life from ever expressing such beliefs again—even in a private email.

“It is the most revolting order I have ever seen in Canada. Ever,” wrote journalist Ezra Levant, in an article giving the full particulars of the order.[3]

After repeated postponements, Rev. Boissoin has finally appeared in a provincial court to appeal the order. Judge Earl Wilson heard arguments from both sides and “reserved judgment” for a future date, as yet undetermined.

“I have no idea how long I’ll have to wait for his decision,” Boissoin told Chalcedon. “I thought we did a good job of presenting our case, and that the judge was very fair.”

Rev. Boissoin’s lawyer, Gerry Chipeur, argued that the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission exceeded its authority by trying “to limit public debate … and public criticism of government policy.”[4] He also argued that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the hate speech/thought crime provision, is flagrantly unconstitutional.

“They did not just ask for an apology,” Rev. Boissoin said. “They actually asked me to change my view. I think the judge made it quite clear that he considered it ludicrous.”

Whatever the court decides, he added, “The bottom line is this: I’ll never abide by that ruling. I won’t pay the fines, I won’t apologize, and I won’t recant.”

So far, he said, his legal defense has cost “a couple hundred thousand dollars—I’ve lost track of the actual total.” The money has been raised by donations, public fund-raising events, and the assistance of such groups as the Alliance Defense Fund here in the United States. Boissoin said he hopes the judge will order the government to reimburse those costs.

“I don’t believe God owes me anything,” he said. “I hope we have a victory, but it won’t move my faith if I don’t.

“I don’t like to go out there and ask for support. I don’t like to be a public figure. By now that whole side of it turns me off, and I’ll be glad when it’s all over.

“But I wouldn’t change a thing. I would write that article [the letter to the newspaper] again. Those were things that needed to be said, and I will not be bullied into silence.”

In spite of all the hardship, Rev. Boissoin said he does not regret the experience.

“I could never have taken my case this far without so many contributions from so many groups,” he said. “There are no words to thank them.

“But I’m even more thankful for the chance to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to stand firm for my beliefs. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to be a part of this.”

The First Acquittal

Meanwhile the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal—the federal body—for the first time ever has acquitted a defendant.

Wrapping up a case that had dragged on for six years, tribunal “judge”—not a real, law-court judge, but more of a government-appointed hearing officer—Athanasios Hadjis acquitted Marc Lemire of “hate speech” charges.

But Hadjis didn’t stop there. In his written ruling, he declared that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is

“[I]nconsistent with… the Charter [the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. Constitution], which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The restriction imposed by these provisions is not a reasonable limit within the meaning of the Charter.”[5]

Ezra Levant, one of the “human rights” machine’s intended victims, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself against hate speech charges,[6] until the case against him was suddenly dropped, wrote in his blog:

“As of yesterday, it’s no longer illegal to write politically incorrect things on the Internet. Now it’s illegal to prosecute someone for it.”[7]

Levant explained to Chalcedon, a few days later, “There is nothing to stop a provincial human rights commission from proceeding against Christians, or others. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is not binding on its provincial counterparts.

“As well, the Canadian Human Rights Commission—the kangaroo police or prosecutors here—might themselves choose to continue investigating and harassing people, regardless of whether the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal—the kangaroo court—will uphold their prosecutions. That is, the CHRC itself has ten people in their censorship directorate. I don’t think they’re going to suddenly let everyone they’re investigating go free, unless they’re ordered to do so.”

The “judge” who acquitted Lemire, and called Section 13 unconstitutional, had for years been convicting defendants on Section 13 thought crime charges. Why would this judge suddenly go against his own previous rulings?

“I think Athanasios Hadjis saw that censorship is out of synch with Canadian values,” Levant said. “And I think his reasoning in his ruling was correct—the CHRC is not what it claims to be. It’s an ‘aggressive’ and ‘confrontational’ bully, not a conciliatory civil rights group. It metes out police-like punishments. And it pursues political speech, not true ‘hate.’ So I think Hadjis got it right. It just took a lot of public scrutiny to make him change his old ways—of being an enabler—and to see the light.”

“Don’t Play Along”

Kathy Shaidle, a Canadian blogger who is being sued for libel by a former agent of the CHRC, whose questionable tactics she reported on her website, called the CHRC “a make-believe court with make-believe judges, making up rules to go after make-believe Nazis.”

“They’ve been pretending for twenty years that Section 13 is constitutional,” she said. “Now their own make-believe judge has told them that it isn’t.”

Section 13, without ever defining what it means by “hate,” allows Canadians to be prosecuted by “human rights” tribunals for anything they say or write that might “be likely to expose” anyone to “hatred or contempt” at any time during an indefinite future. The government pays all the plaintiff’s legal fees, but the defendant is responsible for his own costs. Written laws and ordinary rules of evidence and procedure do not apply in a “human rights” hearing. It has also been noticed that the plaintiffs are invariably Muslims, homosexuals, or feminists while the defendants are almost always Christians or religious Jews. We know of no example of a Muslim or a homosexual militant being prosecuted for anti-Christian “hate.”

“There is a way to fight this censorship,” Ms. Shaidle said, “and now our fight will be a lot less hard.

“Don’t play along! If a human rights commission comes after you, ignore it—refuse to appear, refuse to pay fines. Then you might wind up in a real court—and none of these cases has ever gone into a real court. They always drop the case before that happens.”

Waiting for a Precedent

But now a case has been heard in a real court, and we are waiting for the judge’s ruling. By refusing to abide by its order, Rev. Boissoin forced the Alberta commission to allow his case to go to court.

“These human rights guys were never anything more than paper tigers,” Ms. Shaidle said. “The only difference between then and now is that people like Ezra Levant have been making fun of them in public every week, and calling them idiots. They can’t stand public scrutiny.

“We’re winning, It doesn’t matter why. But people do have to stop looking to politicians for answers, because those politicians are only in it for themselves.”

It would take an Act of Parliament, she added, or a Supreme Court decision, to bring a permanent end to the human rights commissions’ censorship campaign.

It remains to be seen whether Stephen Boissoin can get a favorable ruling in his case. If he does, a legal precedent will have been established against Section 13 and the “human rights” machine which it empowers.

The Weak vs. the Mighty

“I think Boissoin will win,” Ezra Levant said. “Hadjis’ decision is not binding on an Alberta court, but it will likely be persuasive. But even in the absence of that decision, the Boissoin case was so over the top, so unconstitutional, so bullying, so outrageous, that any judge would strike it down.”

We pray he’s right. We have for years reported on the excesses of Canada’s “human rights” regime, especially those cases featuring persecution of Christians for their religious beliefs. Until a few weeks ago, not a single defendant had ever been acquitted.

With similar “hate speech” laws on the books in Britain, and pending in the U. S. Congress, we would very much like to see Canada come to its senses in an Alberta courtroom, sometime soon. A formal court ruling that this kind of censorship is blatantly unconstitutional might inspire similar rulings elsewhere. It might even deter the enactment of Section 13-like laws here in America, persuading legislators that such laws will not survive trial in an American court. Canadian commentators like Ezra Levant have said America’s First Amendment protection of free speech and freedom of religion are much stronger than anything in Canadian law. Again, we pray they’re right.

Stephen Boissoin never sought the limelight. He is the kind of defendant who for years has been routinely abused and financially ruined by Canada’s human rights commissions. He has no powerful connections, no public podium at his disposal, no charisma—just an ordinary citizen, probably defenseless. Easy prey.

But this ordinary citizen, upheld by and armored with his faith in God, has not bent the knee to the false god of the state. Perhaps in him we shall soon see again the truth of St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

“God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Cor. 1:27)


Topics: Government, Justice

Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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