Recently, a “human rights tribunal” in British Columbia Canada heard arguments in the case of the Canadian Islamic Congress v. Maclean’s, a Canadian newsmagazine. Maclean’s has been accused of perpetuating flagrant Islamophobia that “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt.”
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and others like it were founded by Canada to ferret discrimination in all of its forms within the Dominion of Canada. Unfortunately, the law has allowed these star chambers to make a mockery of the legal and constitutional standards of Canada. In the past, these tribunals have found that there is no guarantee of free speech or a free press, despite an explicit right to both in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms*. They are run by left-wing political hacks with little, if any, legal training and the defendants are specifically told that the truth is not a defense; in fact there is no defense. The inquisitors make up the rules as go along and the rulings are arbitrary.
Oh . . . and if you’re found guilty (and you will be; a 100% conviction rate insures that), your punishment will be severe. You will not be allowed publish in Canada ever again. You will be hit with severe monetary penalties. You may even be sent to a “reeducation program.”
If you find it hard to believe that Canadians would stand for this, then consider that right here in America, we stand for it on a daily basis. Oh, we don’t have human rights tribunals . . . well, that’s not strictly true. There is the U.S. Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the federal level and virtually every state and most large cities have human or civil rights commissions. They shares many of the same functions as the Canadian tribunals, but generally cannot impose sanctions or monetary penalties. Functionally, however, they serve the same purpose. You may need to bring a civil suit in a real court with a real judge, but once you’ve been “convicted” by the EEOC or some other state or local administrative body, the conclusion is pre-ordained.
All is not lost, of course. Canadians are in a pickle because of choices they made in the past. The Canadian constitution, and the Charters of Rights, only date to 1982. That’s because Canada, much like Great Britain and a few other Commonwealth countries, have a common law tradition. That is to say, Canadians didn’t need a constitution or a bill of rights because they had 800 years of tradition dating back to before the Magna Carta that defined their rights.
We have the opportunity to hold the line by specifically nominating and confirming Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution in accordance with what it says and how it was understood by those who wrote it. Justices like Scalia and Thomas or Alito and Roberts.
Unfortunately, this nation is on its way to atoning for past sins by electing Barack Obama President of the United States. In doing so, we consign our fates to the Ruth Bader Ginsburgs and the Anthony Kennedys of the legal world, who blithely ignore the Constitution or reinterpret it to mean what they want to mean. A little thing like freedom of speech isn’t going to stop the thought police in this country . . . anymore than it stopped them in Canada.
* This explicit right is circumscribed somewhat by Section 1 which states that these freedoms (and all other in the Charter) are subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law that “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”