Archive for the ‘Canada’ category

Free Speech in Canada

June 6, 2008

Canada is a democracy, with a proud long tradition of human rights, and free speech. Right?

Think again. One Canadian citizen, Mark Steyn, who is well known for his politically incorrect views on Islam, “Eurabia” and the threat Islamic fundamentalism poses to western civilization (I sometimes read the pieces he writes for the Investigate magazine, although I do not agree with everything he says), wrote the (in)famous book, America Alone: The End of the world as we know it, arguing that due to Islamic immigration and high birth rates, Muslims would take over Europe, turning it into “Eurabia” and leaving America alone as the only bastion of western civilization. A piece from the book was published in a well known Canadian magazine, Macleans Magazine, in an article avaliable here, entitled “the future belongs to islam”.

Not unsuprisingly, Muslims in Canada didn’t like what Steyn wrote. And not having learned about tolerance and free speech (to be fair to them, there is very little tolerance and free speech in the Muslim countries), one fundamentalist Muslim group, the Canadian Islamic Congress, took a complaint about the article to a “Human rights” commision in British Columbia. Unfortunately, the “human rights” protected by the human rights commision don’t include the right to free trial (there is a 100% conviction rate at the tribunals for complaints made, the comissars who run the trial have no legal training, there are no case law or precedents, no rules of evidence, and the fact the information may be truthfull and published with reasonable intent is absolutely no defence) or freedom of speech. Instead they are about the freedom from speech, and freedom from expression, for the left wing’s favoured minorities. Although the trial of Mark Steyn is still in progress, we have the results from other cases bought before these “Human rights” tribunals.

Mark Steyn isn’t the only Canadian to be bought before these Human Rights Tribunals for offending Muslims. Erza Levant, the author of the conservative magazine Western Standard was bought before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commision for re-pubishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which had been printed in Denmark earlier. He was investigated, which included long questioning sessions on his views towards Islam, and why he published the cartoons.

Criticism of Islamic fundamentalism, isn’t the only type of free speech punished by these “human rights” tribunals. In 1997 Hugh Owens published an advertisement in the Saskatoon newspaper, the StarPhoenix arguing that homosexuality was morally wrong, and refering to (but not quoting) several bible passages on homosexuality (including one, Leviticus 20:13, about stoning homosexuals to death) The Saskawatchen Human Rights Tribunal upheld a complaint that the advertisement exposed homosexuals to hate, ridicule and belittlement, and ordered both Owens and the paper to pay $2 000 in fines. The paper introduced a policy of not running “anti-gay” advertisements.

Also that year, in London, Ontario, mayor Dianne Haskett refused to proclaim “gay pride day” or fly the rainbow flag on city property. The city council was fined $10 000 for its homophobic actions. Another Canadian city, Kelwona, British Columbia, issued a proclamation for gay pride day, omitting the word “pride”. The provinces Human Rights Tribunal called his action a “mean spirited” “insult” to homosexuals.

The following year, in Missauga, Ontario, printer Scott Brockie refused to print material for a gay rights group on the grounds that doing so would go against his religous beliefs. Sadly, the Ontario Human Rights Commission didn’t care much about his human right to practice his religion, and he was ordered to publish the material, after being fined $5 000.

Four years latter in Saskatchewan, Bill Whatcourt, and his Christian Truth Activists organization was found guilty of distributing pamphlets claiming homosexuals were born gay. In response, he was fined $17 500, and given a court order not to distribute pamphlets criticising homosexuality.

In 2005, Pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper Red Deer Advocate calling homosexuality immoral, dangerous, and saying it should not be promoted in schools. Two weeks after the publication of the letter, in the town of Red Deer, a gay teenager was physically assualted, but there was no evidence that the letter had anything to do with the assualt other than the timing coincidence. That was enough for the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal to convict Boissoin of hate speech against homosexuals.

Fortunately, nobody has gone to prison for free speech in Canada yet. The same can not be said about Sweden, which has similar hate speech laws. In 2003, Pastor Ake Green was sentenced to one month in prison for a sermon in his church, calling homosexuality “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”, and calling homosexuals “perverts, whose sexual drive the devil has used as his strongest weapon against God”. Although I agree that homosexuality is immoral, I do not share the hate views of Ake Green, and instead hold the belief that it is their actions (of having sexual relations with a person of the same gender, and whom they are not married to (and I don’t believe in gay marriage)) that are morally wrong, not merely being attracted to a person of the same sex.

However, regardless of ones feelings towards homosexuality, or Islam, one basic principle of democracy and freedom is free speech. And that includes the right to say things that may offend some people (such as homosexuals and Muslims). While we may be glad that we do not have hate speech laws in New Zealand, it may not stay that way. The Labour Government went as far as launching an inquiry into the issue, before it was stopped as part of it’s confidence and supply agreement with United Future. Although Labour looks set to loose the next election, who knows if when they return to power their disdain for free speech, that they showed in the Electoral Finance Act, won’t be shown in new hate speech laws. For the meantime, enjoy free speech, and the fact we live in a free society (except in election year), where one is free to express almost any political opinions one wishes. And lets hope it stays that way.

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Ontario MMP referendum

October 12, 2007

Ontario, in Canada has just had an election, and with the election they had a referendum on wether or not their provinces voting system should be changed from first past the post (FPP) to MMP. MMP lost by a big margin, but ironically the election shows why they need MMP. The Liberal Party won over two thirds of the seats, with only 42% of the vote. The Green Party got 8% of the vote, but no seats. The New Democrats did better, getting 9% of the seats, for 175 of votes.

 No Right Turn has the best quote on the story. 37% of the vote is a “crushing defeat” for MMP, while 42% is a “massive victory” for the provincial government. I’m glad we don’t have the unproportional, and undemocratic FPP system any more.

Pro-choice, Yeah Right

May 15, 2007

Look at this. A American and Canadian “pro-choice” group, called the National Abortion Federation (NAF), want to force doctors who find abortions morally wrong to preform abortions. Shows how “pro-choice” the supporters of abortion are. their version of choice means giving only one party (the mother) in the abortion decision a choice, and giving no choice to the unborn child (who suffers fatally), the taxpayer (who pays for the abortion) or the doctor (who is forced to preform a medical procedure he may regard as morally wrong). If the NAF have their way, Canadian doctors will be given three choices: preform abortions, leave the country or give up practicing medicine, and I know that if I were a Canadian doctor I won’t choose the first option.