By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
Five years, two tribunals, secret hearings, a court challenge and a turning point
For all the passion it stirred, you’d think it would get a noisier send-off. An ovation, maybe. Or tears. Instead, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act slipped quietly beneath the waves last week during a night-time sitting of the House of Commons—victim of a private member’s bill and a trailer load of toxic publicity. Brian Storseth, Conservative MP for Westlock-St. Paul, had glanced anxiously around the chamber as his kill bill went through its third reading. “The benches weren’t full,” he recalls. “That always makes for a bit of extra heart pumping.”
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had voiced support for the legislation. So had the Prime Minister. The result, then, was never in doubt: at 9:35 p.m. on June 6, by a vote of 153-136, Parliament got Canada’s human rights bureaucrats out of the business of policing speech on the Internet. There was a scattering of applause, and handshakes for Storseth (the bill requires the rubber stamp of Senate approval). “To be honest, it’s all a blur,” says the three-term MP, laughing. But if the passage of Bill C-304 represents a fundamental shift in Canadian culture, you’d never have known it that night. Members dealt with a few housekeeping matters, then waded through a supply bill. Finally, one by one, they trickled out into the cool Ottawa night.
The effect of killing Section 13 will be debated for years among anti-racist groups and civil libertarians. But it is undoubtedly a turning point. Since 1999, Canadians who felt aggrieved by material transmitted online have been encouraged to seek redress under federal human rights law, which targeted material “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation. Storseth’s bill repeals the provision outright, leaving the Criminal Code as the primary bulwark against the dissemination of hate propaganda by electronic means.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
The genteel, moderate Aga Khan’s network is on the rise in Canada
Of two notable speeches from very different Muslim leaders scheduled this month for influential audiences in Canada, only one was delivered. In Ottawa, Zijad Delic, executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, had been asked to speak at National Defence headquarters, but that invitation was revoked by Defence Minister Peter MacKay over charges that the congress’s leaders have taken extremist positions in the past (even though Delic is widely seen as a moderate). There was never any doubt, however, that the second speech would go off without a hitch. The Aga Khan, hereditary leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims, gave the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s annual LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture in Toronto with his customary cosmopolitan suavity.
The contrast in the tale of the two speeches is not one that the diplomatic Aga Khan, or his expanding network in Canada, might want to highlight. Yet his ability to present himself, and Ismailis in general, as a constructive, non-threatening face of Islam is a striking achievement in an era when other Muslim groups often struggle even to be heard. It’s nothing new. For five decades, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan has championed pluralism, and Ismailis have earned a reputation as quick adapters in societies that welcome diversity, including Canada. “I am impressed by the fact that some 44 per cent of Canadians today are of neither French nor British descent,” he said in Toronto, praising the Canadian example as “an asset of enormous global value.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 4, 2010 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
For the sake of clarity, I dropped a note to the Defence Minister’s press secretary with the following question.
Is there anything Imam Zajid Delic has said himself that concerns Minister MacKay or had any impact on the decision to revoke Mr. Delic’s invitation from the Defence department event?
The answer received is as follows. Continue…
By John Geddes - Monday, October 4, 2010 at 3:08 PM - 0 Comments
Zijad Delic, the executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, has made public the speech he would have delivered today, had Defence Minister Peter MacKay not cancelled Delic’s scheduled address to his department as it marks Islamic Heritage Month.
It seems Delic had meant to send a reassuringly moderate message and use the platform offered to him by the Defence department to urge other Islamic leaders to start talking about helping Muslims feel at home in Western democracies.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 4, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Word came Friday night that Defence Minister Peter MacKay had revoked the invitation of Imam Zijad Delic to speak at forum hosted by the Department of National Defence. On Sunday, Jack Layton criticized MacKay’s decision.
Imam Delic, who spoke at a forum hosted by the Foreign Affairs department in 2008, is the executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, which Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has criticized on account of remarks made by its former president. (The Congress and this magazine have some history as well, a matter Imam Delic seems to have commented on.)
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 7:00 AM - 185 Comments
The Dutch state is prosecuting the platform of the country’s most popular opposition party
At a certain level, the trial of Geert Wilders for the crime of “group insult” of Islam is déjà vu all over again. For as the spokesperson for the Openbaar Ministerie put it, “It is irrelevant whether Wilders’s witnesses might prove Wilders’s observations to be correct. What’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.”
Ah, yes, in the Netherlands, as in Canada, the truth is no defence. My Dutch is a little rusty but I believe the “Openbaar Ministerie” translates in English to the Ministry for Openly Barring People. Whoops, my mistake. It’s the prosecution service of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. But it shares with Canada’s “human rights” commissions an institutional contempt for the truth.
As for “Wilders’s witnesses,” he submitted a list of 18, and the Amsterdam court rejected no fewer than 15 of them. As with Commissar MacNaughton and her troika of pseudo-judges presiding over the Maclean’s trial in British Columbia, it’s easier to make the rules up as you go along.