Alan Borovoy, Canada's leading civil libertarian, a man who
helped form these commissions in the 1960s and 1970s, wrote,
in specific reference to our magazine, being a censor is "hardly
the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions.
There should be no question of the right to publish the
impugned cartoons." Since the commission is so obviously out
of control, he said "It would be best, therefore, to change
the provisions of the Human Rights Act to remove any such
ambiguities of interpretation."
The commission has no
legal authority to act as censor. It is not in their
statutory authority. They're just making it up – even Alan
Borovoy says so.
But even if the
commissions had some statutory fig leaf for their attempts
at political and religious censorship, it would still be
unlawful and unconstitutional.
We have a heritage
inherited from Great Britain that goes back to the year 1215
and Magna Carta. We have a heritage of 800 years of British
common law protection for speech, augmented by 250 years of
common law in Canada.
That common law has been
restated in various fundamental documents, especially since
the Second World War. In 1948, the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, to which Canada is a party,
declared that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion
and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of
The 1960 Canadian Bill of
Rights guaranteed: "human rights and fundamental freedoms,
namely: (c) freedom of religion; (d) freedom of speech; (e)
freedom of assembly and association; and (f ) freedom of the
In 1982, the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed that "Everyone has
the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of
conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief,
opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and
other media of communication."
Those were even called "fundamental
freedoms" – to give them extra importance.
For a government
bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an
interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious
expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a
Universal Declaration of Rights, a Bill of Rights and a
Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values,
not Canadian values.
It is also deeply
procedurally one-sided and unjust. The complainant doesn't
have to pay a penny; Alberta taxpayers pay for the
prosecution of the complaint against me. The victims of the
complaints, like the Western Standard, have to pay for their
own lawyers from their own pockets. Even if we win, we lose
– the process has become the punishment.
Unlike in real courts,
there is no way to apply for a dismissal of nuisance
lawsuits. Common law rules of evidence don't apply. Rules of
court don't apply. It is a system that is part Kafka, and
part Stalin. Even this interrogation today – at which I
appear under duress – saw the commission tell me who I could
or could not bring with me as my counsel and advisors.
I have no faith in this
farcical commission. But I do have faith in the justice and
good sense of my fellow Albertans and Canadians. I believe
that the better they understand this case, the more shocked
they will be. I am here under your compulsion to answer the
commission's questions. But it is not I who am on trial: It
is the freedom of all Canadians.
You may start your
It is clear that the
Human Rights Commission has become a dump for the junk that
gets rejected from the real legal system.