Before I attracted the attention of the thought police, I wasn’t entirely up to speed on state censorship in Canada, and I asked my friend Ezra Levant what he knew about this Section 13 business. He sent me a printout with the history of every single case. Two things stood out: first, while the plaintiffs had the costs of the case paid for by the taxpayer, almost all of the defendants had been too poor to have legal representation. That’s an inversion of basic justice. Second, one man had been the plaintiff on every single Section 13 case since 2002—Richard Warman. That didn’t pass the smell test.
The list had been compiled by someone called Marc Lemire, a man who’d been caught in the “human rights” crosshairs for half a decade. You might not care for his opinions, but that, as they say, is a matter of opinion. That he has been traduced by the Canadian justice system is a matter of fact. But he’s a dogged type, and he pushed back, and he got the goods on his abusers. He demonstrated that evidence exhibits were switched in mid-trial by the CHRC. He proved that Warman and CHRC investigator Dean Steacy were themselves members of and posters on white supremacist websites under various aliases. Indeed, in a remarkable conflict of interest, Warman, as the plaintiff, was permitted to stroll into the CHRC, the investigating body, and share passwords and Internet aliases with Steacy.
But Mr. Lemire was too obscure a figure to get any publicity for the CHRC’s procedural abuses and kinky penchant for playing dress-up Nazis on the Internet at taxpayer expense all too long. One day, as I was rummaging agog through what he’d uncovered, I came across a ruling by Judge Hadjis agreeing to the CHRC’s motion to close Mr. Lemire’s hearing to the public. I stopped, rubbed my eyes, and reread it slowly: secret trials? In Canada? Over some unread Internet posts? Apparently so. Minor servants of the Crown in dull desk-bound jobs had decided that they were really cyber-007s whose top secret work was vital to national security. I emailed Ken Whyte and said I’d been overcome by a sudden yen to attend Judge Hadjis’s court. Our counsel, Julian Porter, Q.C., filed a motion to open up the secret trial. He did what lawyers are supposed to do—he cited precedent (CBC vs. New Brunswick, Ambard vs. Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago) and eminent jurists from Viscount Haldane to Chief Justice Dickson. In response, the CHRC offered feverish fantasies insisting that their work was too dangerous to be exposed to open court. Judge Hadjis caved, and rescinded his secret-trial order.
So now he’s caved again, and the jurist who thought nothing of lifetime publication bans is a born-again champion of constitutional freedom. Whatever.
As for those who persist in seeing “hate” as a threat to the Queen’s peace, at Jay Currie’s website a commenter “pettifogger” pointed out that the sole post that Judge Hadjis deemed in breach of Section 13—“AIDS Secrets”—was read by a total of just eight people in Canada, or nought-point-eight of a Canadian per province. However, you’ve got to reckon that maybe two to three of those eight views were from Richard Warman salivating over another tax-free windfall if he sued for being “offended” by it; another two to three came from the CHRC bookmarking and downloading it to enter in evidence; and maybe the sole remaining view came from Mr. Lemire just after posting to check that it was formatted and displaying correctly.
In other words, no one in Canada saw this post. Yet Her Majesty’s thought police took six years to bring this case to conclusion. And, whether or not it’s offensive, there’s nothing in there that should be illegal in a free society with robust traditions of vigorous public debate. That’s the point: Marc Lemire is no threat to Canada. Whereas Jennifer Lynch, Chief Commissar of the CHRC, and her mob of statist hacks, social engineers and secret-agent fantasists are ultimately a very profound threat indeed. To survive as a free people, Canadians need the rough and tumble of honest public discourse. Instead, its “human rights” regime has, quite consciously, attempted to upgrade unfashionable opinions into illegal ones. When government bureaucrats forget they are not our rulers but our servants, that’s always a bigger problem than whatever “crisis” they purport to be addressing.
For the moment, whatever Parliament or the Supreme Court does, Section 13 is dead. The camel’s nose of liberty is under the CHRC tent. Now let’s give ’em the hump.
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