Monday, September 21, 2009

Macleans Magazine Calls for Reform of the "Human Rights Commissions"

This is a link to a terrific story about the need to repeal Section 13, the hate speech clause, of the Canadian Human Rights Act in Maclean's Magazine (Sept. 20, 2009). This article gives you an excellent introductory overview of the issue if you are not familiar with it. We have gotten ourselves into a real mess with this whacky experiment in adminstrative law that has gotten out of control and morphed into a vehicle for persecution of Christians and busy body bureaucrats poking their noses into the lives of subjects without justification.

The story actually chastises Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not taking the action he knows is necessary to clean up the mess that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission. But the article also takes a run at Michael Ignatief, the Liberal Opposition Leader, for not joining with Harper to make the reform a non-partisan effort.

The Liberals have successfully used the tactic of painting the Conservative Party as neo-cons and, in liberal Canada, that works as a scare tactic. (They see neo-cons under every bed at election time!) So the Conservatives know that the Liberal Party will come after them on the human rights commission issue in an election campaign and that the situation is a bit too complicated to explain in sound bites to the voting public. Apparently, the Conservatives think they have a real shot at a majority and, if they get it, they can move at that time without fear. (The irony is that if the Liberals got a majority, section 13 would likely be history too. Only in a minority Parliament does it linger on like a foul smelling ghost no one can get rid of. But that is Canadian politics for you.) As the article notes: "Even the perennially left-wing editorial board of the Toronto Star has endorsed an end to Section 13, saying it “isn’t salvageable.” And when the Toronto Star, which usually loves all things bureaucratic, jumps off the bus, you know the end is near.

No one understands how precious and fundamental freedom of speech is until you lose or come close to doing so. My own experience with state power outside the rule of law has been one of this factors that has greatly increased my respect for conservative principles like individual liberty, limited government, the division of powers, the rule of law and religious freedom.

HT to Ezra Levant, who keeps beavering away on this topic. He deserves a lot of credit for not letting this thing die.


Kevin said...

It's this kind of thing that I wish the liberal wing here in the United States would pay attention to. It seems like so many people think creating strong hate speech laws here would help make this world a better place and they continue to ignore its results in the places it has been instituted. It's really funny that those who call themselves "liberal" tend to be the ones trying to pass the most laws capable of destroying freedoms.

Craig Carter said...

It is not just funny; it is such a significant and worrisome phenomenon that it deserves study and reflection. Why has liberalism in the 20th century taken this big government, anti-individualist turn? That is not its history? And why do we still call it liberalism? And why do liberals accuse conservatives of doing what they (the liberals) are actually doing? This creates tremendous confusion and raises real questions about the viability of liberalism as an ideology.

I believe a conservative disection of liberalism as an idea is way overdue. One terrific article I have found is Louis Groarke's "What is Freedom? Why Christianity and Theoretical Liberalism Cannot Be Reconciled" (Heythrop Journal XLVII (2006), pp. 257-74).

Kevin said...

True, and more disturbing still is the fact that, at least here in the US, conservatives have begun to adopt the same strategies. So, instead of having to significantly different political philosophies, you have mirror images of the same philosophy - the Utopia they're trying to create is different, but the method is the same.