Liveblogging the BC Human Rights Tribunal—Part I

So we are in, and almost ready to go. As trials of the century/year/week go, this one is decidedly down-market: the courtroom would make a good walk-in closet. Maclean’s legal team is out in force, a phalanx of half a dozen suits. The opposing counsel, by contrast, is one suit and two or three badly-dressed juniors. If I didn’t know the stakes, I’d be rooting for them. Actually I am rooting for them, in a strange sort of way. Don’t tell my employers, but I’m sort of hoping we lose this case. If we win—that is, if the tribunal finds we did not, by publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, expose Muslims to hatred and contempt, or whatever the legalese is—then the whole clanking business rolls on, the stronger for having shown how “reasonable” it can be. Whereas if we lose, and fight on appeal, and challenge the whole legal basis for these inquisitions, then something important will be achieved. Hang on, we’re starting…

9:33 AM PST
The three member-panel has entered, chaired by Heather MacNaughton. She hasn’t gotten six words out before one of the spectators shouts out, “could you speak up please?” To her credit, she takes it in stride…

9:36 AM
The Chair is reviewing the legal history of the complaint. Apparently they have no jurisdiction over the Maclean’s website. So that’s a relief…

9:39 AM
“Proceedings before the human rights tribunal are considerably less formal than before a court,” the chair advises. Yes, indeed: unburdened by stuffy old rules of evidence, for example…

9:41 AM
We have friends: the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Journalists are here as intervenors.

9:46 AM
Lead counsel for the complainants (i.e., Mohamed Elmasry and the Canadian Islamic Congress) is Faisal Joseph. Leading off for Maclean’s is Roger McConchie, a BC human rights lawyer; Julian Porter will be coming on later to do the cross-examinations…

9:51 AM
Lawyers for the two sides are wrangling now over what witnesses the complainants are going to call, and whether “my friend” had properly informed “my friend” as to what “my friend” (the first one) had planned…

9:56 AM
Oh God: they’re talking about who they’ll be calling on Friday. Five days in a windowless room. If that’s not a human rights violation…

10:00 AM
Faisal Joseph opening now…

10:03 AM
“A national media organization that consistently and persistently denigrated Canadians of Muslim origin … while refusing to offer any meaningful reply…”

Quotes from Steyn article. Cites 20 other “similar” articles in Maclean’s over a two-year period, to show “context.”

10:05 AM
Section 7.1 of the BC Human Rights Code is the relevant legal text, prohibiting exposure to hate.

Free speech, in Joseph’s humble submission, is a “red herring.”

10:08 AM
He cites a number of previous prosecutions. “The pattern is clear: those hauled before the human rights tribunal howl about censorship.” Well, yes. It’s not crying wolf if the wolf is in fact at your throat…

10:09 AM
Islamophobia is the real issue. Steyn’s article shows “multiple hallmarks of hate.”

10:16 AM
They’re going to call, among others, Dr. Andrew Rippon, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Victoria, to show that Steyn has misunderstood the relationship between the Koran and Islamic society. Well, that’s as may be. Would be a good subject for debate. But why exactly does that require the state to adjudicate it?

Okay, I could probably make that point after every line. Not saying I won’t…

10:18 AM
He mentions “the tremendous power of mass media, and its columnists, to influence public opinion. This is undisputed.” Oh, I don’t know: I’d dispute it.

10:21 AM
He’s quoting various intemperate blog posts—written by people with no connection to Steyn or Maclean’s—to make the point that Steyn’s article encouraged others to view Muslims with hatred.

10:23 AM
So he wants the tribunal to order Rogers to publish … something, in the name of “balancing” free speech against the right to be free of discrimination.

10:28 AM
Now recounting the tale of the Osgoode Hall law students, with their “reasonable” demand for Maclean’s to publish a “meaningful” response. I’m guessing the definition of “meaningful” will come into play. In this case, it meant a 5000-word article which Maclean’s could not edit, accompanied by a cover of their own design which Maclean’s could not alter…

10:31 AM
Cites “hundreds of thousands” of supporters, including the Canadian Federation of Students, Ontario Federation of Labour, Canadian Nurses Association…

They’re not trying to have speech “criminalized.” Just trying to right a terrible wrong. “You (the tribunal) are the only thing standing in the way of racist, hateful Islamophobia, etc.” And he’s finished…

10:57 AM
Just coming back from a break. Lots of media interest, it seems: CBC, CTV (I’m told), the National Post, local media, and a guy from the New York Times, who’s doing a piece comparing how the two countries’ legal systems deal with speech cases. Needless to say, he can’t believe what he’s witnessing…

11:02 AM
Roger McConchie now up for Maclean’s

Fundamental position: these proceedings, from beginning to end, are an infringement of the constitutional right to free press, and the relevant section of BC code should be struck down.

On the narrow substantive issue, we appear for the limited purpose of rebutting the complainant’s claims.

11:04 AM
Under Section 7.1, he continues, innocent intent is not a defence, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism.

Or in other words, there is no defence.

11:08 AM
Maclean’s
does not recognize the right of governments at any level to monitor the contents of magazines. We will call no witnesses, but will simply ask that the complaint be set aside…

We will, however, get into whether the article in question conforms to the definition laid out in the Taylor case, a Supreme Court decision upholding a similar section of the federal law on the grounds that it would only apply to really “extreme” examples of hatred…

11:11 AM
McConchie is pointing out that Elmasry is in fact from Ontario. Does he in fact speak for any aggrieved party in BC?

11:13 AM
Incidentally, if you’re wondering why these dispatches are so (uncharacteristically) terse, I’m having to write on a Blackberry—there’s no wi-fi in here. Not to mention light, air, water…

11:19 AM
McConchie goes on: whether or not we agreed to publish the “response” sought is irrelevant. It wasn’t in their original complaint, and it’s not grounds for claiming “discrimination” under Section 7.1.

And he’s done.

11:20 AM
Now we’re on to whether to hear evidence from Professor John Miller, with regard to the Canadian Association of Journalists’ application for intervenor status. He’s a prof at Ryerson, former adjudicator for complaints at the Toronto Star, and a researcher on media representation of minorities. Joseph wants to call him to show “context,” how other media deal with “balance,” etc.

11:26 AM
While they’re arguing, we pause for a brief background break. Here are the sanctions the tribunal can impose on Maclean’s, as set out in the BC Human Rights Code. Can you say “chilling effect”?

Remedies
37 (1) If the member or panel designated to hear a complaint determines that the complaint is not justified, the member or panel must dismiss the complaint.
(2) If the member or panel determines that the complaint is justified, the member or panel
(a) must order the person that contravened this Code to cease the contravention and to refrain from committing the same or a similar contravention,
(b) may make a declaratory order that the conduct complained of, or similar conduct, is discrimination contrary to this Code,
(c) may order the person that contravened this Code to do one or both of the following:
(i) take steps, specified in the order, to ameliorate the effects of the discriminatory practice;

…(d) if the person discriminated against is a party to the complaint, or is an identifiable member of a group or class on behalf of which a complaint is filed, may order the person that contravened this Code to do one or more of the following:
(i) make available to the person discriminated against the right, opportunity or privilege that, in the opinion of the member or panel, the person was denied contrary to this Code;
(ii) compensate the person discriminated against for all, or a part the member or panel determines, of any wages or salary lost, or expenses incurred, by the contravention;
(iii) pay to the person discriminated against an amount that the member or panel considers appropriate to compensate that person for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect or to any of them.
(3) An order made under subsection (2) may require the person against whom the order is made to provide any person designated in the order with information respecting the implementation of the order.
(4) The member or panel may award costs
(a) against a party to a complaint who has engaged in improper conduct during the course of the complaint, and
(b) without limiting paragraph (a), against a party who contravenes a rule under section 27.3 (2) or an order under section 27.3 (3).
(5) A decision or order of a member or panel is a decision or order of the tribunal for the purposes of this Code.
(6) The member or panel must inform the parties and any intervenor in writing of the decision made under this section and give reasons for the decision.

11:34 AM
Our argument re Miller: if he’s here to testify about the practices of responsible journalism, and if responsible journalism is not a defence under Section 7.1, then what’s the point?

11:38 AM
It’s kind of a cool defence, when you think of it. The law does not permit us to defend ourselves on the basis of responsible journalism (or anything else, really). But that’s patently unreasonable, so the complainants are actually trying to sneak it back in—to make the issue our journalistic practices, rather than their attempt to silence us. We’re not giving them that opportunity.

11:45 AM
First witness: Khurrum Awan, one of the Osgoode Hall law students who are popularly presented as complainants in the case. Or as they are affectionately known around here, the “sock puppets,” given that the case is in fact entirely driven by Elmasry.

Serious guy, thoughtful, well-spoken. Former president of the Canadian Isamic Congress youth wing. Long history of involvement in issues of “media misrepresentation” of Muslims…

12:05 PM
McConchie is again pointing out that Awan is from Ontario, so whatever traumatic impact the Steyn article is supposed to have had on him occurred, as it were, outside the BC tribunal’s jurisdiction.

12:08 PM
Their reply: he’s a member of the Muslim “community,” which includes BC Muslims. So, I take it, if he’s harmed, they are.

12:10 PM
Another interesting note: Awan is articling at Faisal Joseph’s firm.

12:11 PM
Breaking for lunch now. Also air conditioning, deodorant, elbow room, etc.

Continued: Liveblogging the BC Human Rights Tribunal—Day I, Part II




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Liveblogging the BC Human Rights Tribunal—Part I

  1. “Apparently they have no jurisdiction….”

    Has that stopped them before?

  2. Say hi to the folks at the BCCLA for me! I love those guys.

  3. Wow ! Heather MacNaughton, who chaired the three-panel BC Human Rights Tribunal in the mixed judgement of the Port Coquitlam Knights of Columbus v. two lesbians, is the same Justice who fined Christian printer Scott Brockie and denied an appeal by Christian teacher Chris Kempling.

    This is bound to be interesting ! We couldn’t have asked for a more leftist judge.

  4. I’ll be annotating Andrew’s posts from time to time over at my site. Ms. Heather MacNaughton has wuite a history: she presided over the Knights of Columbus – lesbian wedding reception case and over the Scott Brockie case in which a Christian printer was fined for refusing to publish some bit of homosexual advocacy. Not much chance of a dismissal outright.

  5. Are the 2 intervenors supporting Macleans or the other side?

  6. Good luck to Maclean’s in this trial, and as Mr. Coyne suggested, the next as well.

    I have been a subscriber for the past three years and will continue to be for a long time yet!

    These above-the-law unaccountable ‘human rights’ tribunals/commissions need to be fixed. Maybe this case will make the Supreme Court make the right decision this time…

    And thank you for blogging on-site Mr. Coyne.

  7. Canada Libre!

  8. No jurisdiction, a lefty judge, a left wing Professor (who, being at an academic institution where freedom of though is paramount,) should be the LAST person appearing for the CIC.

    Ah yes, multiculturalism – we are all equal and if you question that with objective facts we will take you to court! Thanks Trudeau!

  9. Dr. Rippon eh?

    El-Misery cracks me up. I cannot beleive he hired a Christian professor to demonstrate “that Steyn has misunderstood the relationship between the Koran and Islamic society.”

    Why didn’t he call on his good pal Imam Aly Hindy (of polygamy fame)to make the case? After all it is at Aly Hindy’s mosque that Elmasry gives his painful sermons.

  10. “Maclean’s legal team is out in force, a phalanx of half a dozen suits. The opposing counsel, by contrast, is one suit and two or three badly-dressed juniors.”

    It seems to me that they’re only fielding one suit guy and few juniors because they’ve already made their mind up which way the decision is going to go. If they really felt they faced a tough case they’d be out in force. But they’re not – as they see it, it’s a done deal and Macleans will be taken to the cleaners: Next case, please!

  11. How Orwellian – “Dr. Andrew Rippon, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Victoria, to show that Steyn has misunderstood the relationship between the Koran and Islamic society”.

    The state is now the arbiter of “correct opinion”. Didn’t the Khmer Rouge do something similar? Perhaps Steyn and company require “re-education” in the opinion of the HRC.

  12. Here is a copy of the letter I wrote Mr. Steyn 2 days ago, as published on his website:

    I’m born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., the home of the Mark Steyn inquisition of 2008. I’m a Muslim, born, raised, confirmed, etc.

    I’ve read your columns for about eight years or so, and have laughed, fumed, agreed, and pouted over your various takes on vaious issues. I even perused one of the ones about theatre (trying to impress a girl…long story).

    The point is, i’ve agreed and disagreed, but not once did a I feel my human rights violated. Not once did I feel the need to sue, run to a human rights commission, nor demand that the publication or website in which that particular column appeared give me equal access to write a response.

    This includes the day when I picked up the Maclean’s issue feauring an excerpt from America Alone. That day, I read your piece, and the first thing that struck me was…demography. I mean, that is the central theme… it was all about the great demographic paradigm shift. And you know what? It was/is concerning. My parents moved to Canada in 1974 (7 years before my birth) for a reason. They were attracted to Canada’s adherence to a fair and balanced legal system, and a free society that my parents were fortunate to have witnessed growing up in Fiji, which had also been a British colony. The traditions of Western civilization that made this society just, peaceful, free, secure and economically hopeful were the reasons they and countless other immigrants moved to Canada. It certainly wasn’t the weather. Today, that society is being challenged, as this demographic shift is occurring.

    I am writing in my support of you in the case of the Canadian Islamic Congress V. Maclean’s.

    Muslim groups don’t just target the Mark Steyns and Ezra Levants of this world. In my community here in BC, I was openly criticized by the local Muslim bigwigs for writing an article in a Muslim paper in which I talked about the stupid call by Muslims to protest Denmark in the wake of the Danish cartoons. I also received flack after one of your columns (the one about ‘Mustafa Shag’) inspired me to write a
    column on the thin skinned faux outrage of some Muslims in ridiculous and frivolous matters: from the ‘offensive’ Dairy Queen swirl in the UK to the Nike shoes that kinda, sorta, looked like they said “Allah” in Arabic script if you squinted and turned your head oh-so slightly to the left and were in the right light.

    Human rights commissions are useless to begin with (see the Assal satellite dish case). I already wrote my local MP in support of repealing section 13 and supporting Keith Martin’s Private Member’s Bill. However, she is the NDP Defense Critic (Dawn Black), so she’s too busy grilling the Defense Minister on the well-being of our enemies in Afghanistan.

    I was fortunate enough to hear Ezra Levant speak at the Fraser Institute last week. As he said, this is an attack on our liberties. This is an effort by individuals who come from a place where a free press is not values, imposing their values on Canada, not adapting to the values of the land. When the government’s quasi-judicial kangaroo courts act as their allies, it makes America Alone that much more chilling and relevant, as the change in our values happens right before our eyes. The very
    values that I, and countless other Muslims benefit from and prosper from, and run to to escape the horrific living conditions in the Muslim world, are allowed to be destroyed, and the government is an accomplice.

    The very reason I write in Muslim newspapers, as much grief as it gets me, is because the extremism is a Muslim problem. I have to speak out to our community. Its the responsibility of Muslims to do this, just as it was the responsibility of Catholics to address child molestation in churches. Yes, when it kills 3,000 people, it becomes the world’s problem, but as Muslims, it is our cross to bear (no pun
    intended). The details in your excerpt, as it appeared in Maclean’s should have been written by a Muslim and distributed in Mosques a long time ago. The fact that you quoted the Ayotollah didn’t anger me. I was only anger when I had read what he said, as a representative of Muslims. You sir, have done a marvellous job, and I salute you.

    I apologize for the length of this e-mail. Once again, best of luck in your defense of freedom.

    Name withheld on request
    Vancouver, B.C

  13. “Dr. Andrew Rippon, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Victoria, to show that Steyn has misunderstood the relationship between the Koran and Islamic society”.

    Fine, then put ALL of the Koran on trial.

  14. If this case can be summed up, it would be:

    “The Muslim Brotherhood vs. Canada.”

    I excitedly waiting for the cross-examination of El-Misery. However, I am willing to compromise if his boy-band is allowed to shoot themselevs in the foot first.

  15. I can’t believe this is going on in Canada! At least it is reassuring to have a journalist the calibre of Mr. Coyne covering it, thank you for that.
    The Brockie case and the Knights of Columbus one were complete set-ups, where the complainants deliberately provoked the response which led to the ‘human rights’ tribunal. MacNaughten collaborated in the resulting charades.

  16. Do list those bloggers!

  17. He’s not even listing bloggers. He’s listing comments posted by anonymous nobodies on the Internet. WEAK evidence if I ever saw it.

  18. Will Maclean’s lawyers quote miscellaneous left-wing blog posts that call for the head of Mark Steyn, Ken Whyte, etc.? Perhaps as a rhetorical retort, it could help.

  19. He’s quoting various intemperate blog posts—written by people with no connection to Steyn or Maclean’s—to make the point that Steyn’s article encouraged others to view Muslims with hatred.

    OH NO, we are all in trouble now! Please help me stop my desire to speak freely and come to my own conclusions,as I do not have the money to fend off a BCHRC complaint. But this is Canada, how could this happen? Exactly!

  20. Welcome to the Star Chamber, Macleans….

    Perhaps now you might have wished you supported North Shore News columnist Doug Collins all those years back and the law could have been overturned but instead you now find yourself branded hate mongers and islamophobes.

    It looks good on you.

  21. “to make the point that Steyn’s article encouraged others to view Muslims with hatred.”

    Will these posters be attacked next? Is this a list of targets he is citing?

  22. As a resident of Washington State, who was raised 30 miles south of the border, I cannot tell you how frightening all this is. Just what are my Canadian friends thinking? Orwellian is an understatement!

  23. Andrew Coyne’s live blogging reminds of 1960, when I sat before a radio in Karachi, Pakistan, listening to a nail-biting “running commentary” on a Cricket Test match being played between India and Pakistan in Bombay!

  24. Gad what a farce. I am so ashamed of myself for having been so complacent, how did we ever let these moral monsters running the HRC’s sneak up on us.

  25. I’m getting ill just reading this.

    After 25 years, I left Ontario for the United States in 1980. I always had reservations about leaving.

    But not now.

  26. BTW Mr. Fatah, I saw you on TVO the other day and you made me feel much better about the future. Suffice it to say, Amazon is sending me your book. Cheers,

  27. No Andrew, say it ain’t so! There’s international media here? It’s cloudy in May in Vancouver today AND this faux trial is going on…how embarassing for us Vancouverites…

    Thank God it didn’t happen during the olympics…

  28. This is the biggest story in the world.
    It’s being all but ignored in Europe.

  29. The objective of many Islamists in the West is to work ceaselessly to trigger a massive backlash against Muslims, so they can report back to their masters in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran can say: “Look, we told you…the West is in a war against Islam”.

    The less discrmination there is against Muslims, the more it displeases the Islamists. If the current “Muslim Brotherhood vs. Canada” trial leads to an increase in insults to Islam, Muslims or the Quran, El-Misery and his boy-band will be plenty pleased. Thus the remark above that the Quran is full of hate, plays straight into the hands of the Islamists. You can bet that remark will already have been cut and pasted onto a blog and e-mailed to Faisal Joseph by now.

    The fascists of the 21st century are a crafty bunch. Devious and deceptive, they would put the brown-shirters of Mussolini to shame. In addition, they have the shield of religion to hide behind.

  30. 10:48 AM – “He’s quoting various intemperate blog posts—written by people with no connection to Steyn or Maclean’s—to make the point that Steyn’s article encouraged others to view Muslims with hatred.”

    I hate to say it, but this is a fair point. I mean, Macleans or Steyn (I don’t know which) are up for inciting hatred or some such charge. And so if it can be shown that certain unsavoury bloggers and the like routinely quote Steyn to back up their less than friendly views about others, then surely that’s their case half proven, isn’t it. I’m no lawyer, but it doesn’t look good. I hope they’ve got a good argument against this point.

  31. Simple Solution…if the HRC rules that MACLEANS must print ths Islamists’ response of 5,000 words…MACLEANS should briefly fold, going out of business…

    Only to re-emerge the next day as MACLEAN’S Magazine (with the apostrophe). A whole new publication not beholden to the past HRC ruling.

  32. I’m reminded of the scene in “The Pianist” where the Jewish hero sees a new sign forbidding Jews to walk in the park and he and his Christian girlfriend don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It just seems so ridiculous.

    An American journalist asked me this week about the HRC cases, and he seemed thunderstruck. It all seemed crazy to him.

  33. The point is, there souldn’t be a case in the first place. It’s about freedom of speech.

  34. Well, a real court of law would need to have proof that those “hate” comments were not written by some human rights investigator operating under cover, right?

    I am glad the New York Times is there. It isn’t real in Canada until the NYT does a story on it.

    Sad but true.

    Deborah

  35. Macleans should present Muslim Canadians as witnesses who would testify that the only thing contributing to “Islamophobia” in Canada is Mohamed Elmasry and his utterances.

    Imagine, Prof. Salim Mansur of London, Prof. Mahfooz Kanwar of Calgary, Author Farzana Hassan of Toronto appearing on behalf of Macleans.

    I can only guess what Faisal ‘Joseph’ would say to Macleans’ Muslims in cross-examination:

    “All of you are apostates … traitors”

  36. Frank, I hardly think that Macleans or Steyn are the ones inciting hatred.

    Amongst other things, I would think mass rioting and deaths over some cartoons did that.

  37. Big thanks to Andrew for live-blogging this and keeping me from accomplishing anything at work today. Thanks!

  38. “…or, guilty in defense, be thus destroyed?”

  39. I cannot believe this is really happening in Canada. As liberal and socialsts as some left-wingers are, this is scary ans shocking. I think most Canadians would agree.

  40. “11:16 AM
    Incidentally, if you’re wondering why these dispatches are so (uncharacteristically) terse, I’m having to write on a Blackberry—there’s no wi-fi in here.”

    Hmm Andrew…I thought this was taking place in a facility run by the human rights folks….you would think that there would be an unsecured wireless connection around you could tap into.

  41. Andrew Coynes narrated, “Under Section 7.1, he [McConchie] continues, innocent intent is not a defence, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism.”

    That seems to be a fine way to start making a hash out of the bad law and the proceedings from the very outset. McConchie’s begun by putting the bad law on trial in a way that must tend to draw the agreement of the journalists reporting the “trial.”

  42. To Frank Stringer
    Frank, you are missing the point. Its not the posts that are the problem, its the law, and the CHRCs that it allows to operate that are the problems. Its these problems that are stiffling the free discourse of ideas just because someone got offended by it, that is what needs to be challenged.

  43. Is Dr. Elmassry there in person?

  44. AC wrote…

    “11:16 AM
    Incidentally, if you’re wondering why these dispatches are so (uncharacteristically) terse, I’m having to write on a Blackberry—there’s no wi-fi in here. Not to mention light, air, water…”

    Ulm, who wants to pull a “Spinelli” and order Andrew a Pizza and a couple of waters to be delivered to room ;->

  45. QUESTION: Will a transcript or recording of the proceedings be made available? If so, when?

  46. Spicoli, not Spinelli. Would be great if MacNaughton made him share ala Mr. Hand.

    We should all pitch in and buy Andrew a wireless keyboard – I had one for my Treo…kicked 6 kinds of ass!

  47. Aloha Jeff you are right…I was too lazy to go to IMDB to confirm.

  48. No prizes for guessing why there is no video.

  49. Transcripts ?

    Will Mohamed Elmasry, the Canadian Islamic Congress and their counsel, Faisal Joseph get to vet the transcripts to redact hate sentences before being released to the public ?

  50. Jeff, there is a Staples around the corner…what’s compatible with a Blackberry?

  51. Thanks so much for these posts. This is an attempt at rewriting the rules of journalistic practice in Canada. By a journalist live blogging, and by a commission of government.

    Derek

  52. I raise a glass to whichever of the Macleans lawyers said this….

    “11:34 AM
    Our argument re Miller: if he’s here to testify about the practices of responsible journalism, and if responsible journalism is not a defence under Section 7.1, then what’s the point?”

    In keeping with my movie theme…tastey winslow tastey

  53. OK Tarek you are now officially freaking me out……

  54. I can’t wait for the New York Times piece. How are the Canadian bien pensant to reconcile their support for the HRCs with devotion to the wisdom of the Grey Lady?

    Although if they can reconcile their devotion to the Times with their hatred of the United States, presumably they can reconcile anything.

  55. Well remember all of the hand wringing over the weekend over how shameful it was that Canada had all these bad stories about it in International Press over Bernier’s Briefs?

    Will the sae sack cloth and ashes take place about this? No need to answer it was a rhetorical question.

  56. Tarek, please drop us some more hints;) or else just drop me an e-mail and point me in the right direction. Enquiring minds want to know!

  57. “…responsible journalism.”

    Whatever the merits of the complainants case, I can’t see how anyone can argue that anything Steyn has written is “responsible journalism”.

  58. Next week: liveblogging the gulag…

  59. I’m still laughing about the “almost quotes” line from the TVO’s Slaughter of the Sock Puppets. That was one of the best hours of TV I’ve seen in ages. Priceless.

  60. Keep talking Tarek. The rest of Canada is listening. Thanks for the knowledgeable insight. Good Luck with your new book.

  61. Tarek, I saw you on Ken Rockburn’s CPAC show this morning – terrific!

    BTW speaking of cricket in Mumbai, who were you supporting in the IPL final? Rajasthan or Chennai?

  62. “McConchie is pointing out that Elmasry is in fact from Ontario. Does he in fact speak for any aggrieved party in BC?”

    I called the B.C. HRT about a week ago, to voice my concerns. I asked why they were hearing the case since neither Mcleans nor Elmasry have any B.C. connection.

    I was told that they accepted jurisdiction because “Mcleans is sold in B.C.”.

    Wow, given that airlines often carry Mcleans on board, I guess that gives jurisdiction anywhere in Canada. And by extension, isn’t Air Canada guilty of ‘spreading hatred’ from sea to shining sea?

  63. “Our argument re Miller: if he’s here to testify about the practices of responsible journalism, and if responsible journalism is not a defence under Section 7.1, then what’s the point?”

    Indeed. But if…

    “Under Section 7.1, he continues, innocent intent is not a defence, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism.”

    Then why have a hearing at all?

  64. Fight on, Canada! We down south of you are obviously next, no doubt, and so wish you victory in fighting off this threat to your freedom of thought and speech.

    “Hate speech” laws! It’s hard to believe something so patently Orwellian could take hold so widely in universities and even Federal criminal codes.

  65. Tarek:

    You have a story to tell ….

  66. Alas where’s Rumpole when you need him. The perfect lawyer for hopeless case.

  67. The only thing required is to show that your feelings have been hurt for the complaint to be upheld.

  68. From AFP: “A suicide car bomb outside Denmark’s embassy in Pakistan killed up to eight people and wounded 27 Monday in a possible new backlash over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, state media and officials said.

    The massive blast damaged the mission in central Islamabad and nearly destroyed a nearby UN agency.”

    Lets see now. Those ‘cartoons’ were published on Feb.6th, 2006, or more than two years ago and today, a ‘murder bomber’ of unknown nationality or religion attacks the soverign territory of another nation – the Danish Embassy – and nearly destroys a UN Agency.

    Hey, it’s not for me to make any comment on the reasonableness of the bomber’s action, nor to draw any conclusions on their most basic motives.

    That would apparently be hateful.

  69. Ironic in that Awan said that Muslims are not a homogenious unit (TVO performance), and then he claims that Muslims are indeed (due to the umma doctrine) homogenious and is therefore eligible to make this complaint! HEHE

  70. “AC 12:08 PM
    Their reply: he’s a member of the Muslim “community,” which includes BC Muslims. So, I take it, if he’s harmed, they are.”

    Nice projection of them. That will explode the Human rights Industry in Canada. Hey!, be offended in Nova Scotia, file a claim in all 10 Provinces, attend any of them as the ‘offended’!. Your entitlement doesn’t get any better than that. Wait till a Baptist tries that.

  71. The Canadian Federation of Students is cited as part of hundreds of thousands of supporters!

    Right, cuz every student on the 80 or so schools where the CFS is present wants to see Macleans burn.

    I’d say something like “not in my name” but thankfully I no longer go to a CFS school.

    Good grief!

  72. I hate to say it, but [quoting various intemperate blog posts] is a fair point. I mean, Macleans [is] up for inciting hatred or some such charge.” – Frank Stringer

    This is only a fair point if the CHRC has the authority to regulate any speech it desires. I could write “I don’t like Sen. Obama” and just because a racist pig responds with a racial slur it is neither evidence that I incited it nor that the post or comment constituted any real damage to the Senator. Once a body is given license to prosecute based upon what might result from an action it has been empowered to indulge its prosecutorial whims.

    Macleans should present Muslim Canadians as witnesses who would testify that the only thing contributing to ‘Islamophobia’ in Canada is Mohamed Elmasry and his utterances.” – Tarek Fatah

    This actually has no bearing upon Macleans’ defense and I understand it. They are not arguing that they didn’t contribute to “Islamophobia” but, rather, that the CHRC has no constitutional standing upon which to even ask the question. The best possible outcome, in my eyes, would be a CHRC finding against that would lead to a Supreme Court (or whatever they call it in Canada) hearing, where the CHRC has to play fair.

  73. Great catch, Sev Scott!

  74. How can it be allowed for the complainant’s lawyer to call one his own articled clerks as a witness?

  75. “to make the point that Steyn’s article encouraged others to view Muslims with hatred.”

    This whole proceeding is encouraging me to view the entire Canadian judiciary with hatred. So should the CHRC now sanction itself?

  76. @Frank Stringer

    When two heavyweight professors here in the US published The Israeli Lobby , they were

    1) Accused of writing an anti-Semitic tract
    2) quoted by David Duke and other ‘unsavory’ types

    Now, does that prove that the book The Israeli Lobby stirred up hate against Jews — or that people that don’t like Jews used to book to reinforce their worldview. Under Canadian ‘Human Rights’ law, it very well may, but that just goes to show the stupidity of the law. Way too broad.

  77. comment by bigcitylib on 2 June 2008:

    “…responsible journalism.”

    Whatever the merits of the complainants case, I can’t see how anyone can argue that anything Steyn has written is “responsible journalism”.

    First of all have you read his book? He doesn’t attack or insult Progressive Muslims, his book deals with Political Islamists and Radical Islamists not the ordinary everyday Muslim slogging through the daily grind. He also backs up every assertion with evidence, you know what that word means don’t you? EVIDENCE and STATISTICS as the foundation for his assertions that Europe is losing it’s battle against Political/Radical Islam.

    This issue isn’t about Muslims, it’s about agents working for Political Islam. This trial isn’t Muslim versus the rest of us it’s about Political Islamists (most likely funded by Saudi Arabia) using our laws against us to subvert democracy. Their goal is the Islamification of our Country, their goal is to create a theocracy by using our laws to change our society. They are working to change our culture from the inside out and it’s working.

  78. Why haven’t any of the CJC, SWC or BB asked to intervene ?

    This has to be their favourite territory.

  79. Not to nitpick…but if one more person types “McLeans”…I may file a human rights complaint on behalf of the “Canadian Letter ‘A’ Booster Club.”

  80. This case is very important and I wish Mark and Macleans well. But the most important case has already been lost and only can be won back through a rewrite of the law in Canada and the provinces.

    How many letter writers, bloggers… individuals with opinions and concerns… have looked at the “Human Rights” tribunals run amok, and have decided: “well, maybe I will write about something else”. Can I and my family afford the cost of defending myself before a tribunal?

    How can we ever measure the chilling effect of these cases – even if Mark and Macleans win this case!

  81. Oops, sorry, Macleans! My previous comment had to be removed — I didn’t realise that my choice of a word might have be interpreted as libellous. I should have said ‘presided over’ instead.
    But it just shows how our Criminal Code laws of libel and slander are sufficient protection,and these ridiculous ‘human rights’ tribunals are unnecessary — and now clearly being demonstrated to be actually harmful to our human rights, such as freedom of speech.

  82. How about MacClean’s?

  83. If Khurrum Awan is Faisal Joseph’s articling student, doesn’t that have a bearing on Mr. Awan’s credibility? Doesn’t that pre-dispose Mr. Awan to give the kind of answers Mr. Joseph wants to hear?

  84. To the webfolks at Macleans:

    Three words: Reverse Chronological Order.

  85. Trust bigcitylib to come in and try to stir things up. Maybe he hopes that Sockey’s Lawyer can then present it in ‘court’? Just sayin….

  86. Frankie baby:

    “Where’s the free speech when it comes to posting comments on this blog?”

    This would be Mclean’s blog, so they are exercising THEIR free speech by determining what content THEY approve THEIR blog.

    You, on the other hand, get to exercise YOUR free speech and decide what content YOU have on YOUR blog.

    (Isn’t that neato-cool the way that works?)

    Now then, if big brother comes along and tells me that I can’t insult someone on my blog, that would be denying me this little fundamental right that everyone is excited about.

    I am tempted to sign this “Captain Obvious”, but I don’t want the HRC invading Chicago…

  87. Prediction: Khurrum Awan will look utterly like a fool by the time the MacLeans guys finish examining him, provided of course that The MacNaught allows him to be examined freely.

  88. Old news, but since the trial to limit our freedom is breaking for lunch, this is a fun read. It’s a letter to Khurrum Awan from Jason Kenney, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. Awan criticized Kenney in a letter for having stood up for the right of Maclean’s magazine to print articles that some Muslims might find offensive, or at least discomforting:

    http://stevejanke.com/archives/jason-kenney-to-khurrum-awan.pdf

    Two words: OH SNAP!

  89. What, two hour lunch?

  90. I must say it’s interesting to see how quickly these “hundreds of supporters” in different groups sign on to questionable causes. The Laibar Singh case comes to mind, a cause supported by the Council of Canadians, the BC Hospital Employees Union and Students for a Democratic Society UBC. None of them, of course, relevant to the cause at hand.

    Now we have the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Nurses Association signing on here. No mention about any civil liberties associations on their side, nor any legal organizations. That’s, of course, judging by what I’ve read here.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find the same hundred people signed up as members in every single one of these groups that present themselves as the torrent of supporters of these ridiculous causes.

  91. As I was reading these comments I just happened to get a fundraising call from the Conservative Party. I agreed that I was a lifelong Conservative but I would be staying at home instead of voting in the next election if I did not see some concrete support from Harper to deal with the HRC’s across Canada. The lady on the phone was typing very quickly making notes. When I asked her if she was aware of the MacLeans / Levant issues she said she had not heard anything about them. Clearly shows that the MSM (read the CBC and TV in general, apart from Rex Murphy) have given this no exposure at all. How sad for Canada.

  92. Hey Frank, “dangerous attitudes of the powerful?” doesn’t necessarily flow from the ‘majority’ to the ‘minority’.

    But then that belief is classic neo-liberalism, isn’t it. And ‘minority groups’ have every right to own and operate magazines and/or radio shows. In fact, I do believe their are currently lots of both.

    Perhaps the remedy is to have the various tribunals compel us to listen to or read them.

  93. C’mon Sammi, it the government. They’ve had a loooong morning and need a little nap after din-din. Give ‘em a break!

  94. Mill’s In Defense of Liberty spoke about the tyranny of the majority what he did not anticipate was how inverted that would become and I believe were he writing his essay today he would be more concerned about the tyranny of the minority and the abuse of the term “hate” to cover everything from rude or at the very least impolite speech all the way over to slavering incitement for bodily harm. This latter, for some reason by virtue of being a minority, appears to be selectively ok – which is where the tyranny arises in combination with an egregious expansion of the term “hate” to cover whatever the allegedly aggrieved minority does not want to be heard, seen or thought about them. Some wise person once observed that truth was the first casualty of war and we see in this battle for western civilization truth is neither a legitimate defense or an acceptable concept it has been replaced by ‘truthiness’ (and whoever thought that term up is a genius).

  95. I agree with the reverse chronological order comment…put the latest stuff at the top.

  96. Frank, taking your paragraphs in order:

    1. Maclean’s is a private organization, and this is their playground. They can restrict whatever speech they like on their website and it doesn’t infringe your rights one little bit. Freedom of speech does not obligate anyone to provide you with a forum. And that’s exactly what is at issue in this case.

    2. Incitement is already a criminal offense.

    3. Yes, you should absolutely have that right, within the existing limitations of incitement, slander, etc. Your employer also has the right to fire you for being an obnoxious moron, and the public at large has the right to not pay any attention to you, and neither outcome would violate your freedom of speech. In fact, many would argue that you already do have the right you mentioned, and that the “likely to cause” laws are unconstitutional infringements on that right.

    4. No. Those “harmed” should have to prove harm, either on the balance of probabilities used for civil cases of slander etc., or the much higher “beyond reasonable doubt” proof required in a criminal court. Hurt feelings or offense taken are light-years from either.

    In any case, the student complainants have been interviewed on TV and radio, have written newspaper op-eds across the country, and have generally been provided with more free publicity than their article in Maclean’s would ever have gotten them. Unlike the great majority of us, they have had more or less free access to mass media over the past several months to make their case. They have done a remarkably poor job of it, but whose fault is that?

  97. Rich Trzupek said, “This would be M[a]clean’s blog, so they are exercising THEIR free speech by determining what content THEY approve [on] THEIR blog.”

    Sure, MacLean’s editors are understood to have a property right in their particular means of publishing. So it’s much more straightforward to speak of their editorial freedom to exercise this property right they have or at least exercise on behalf of MacLean’s owners.

    In the construction particular to the Americans, the editors of MacLean’s have freedom of the press. Persons who complain about editors’ “censorship” have forgotten, or never understood, that editors have press freedom, too.

  98. Gerry – that would be one Stephen Colbert. Genius indeed. Monday-Thursday on the Comedy Network (Comedy Central in the US) at 11:30 p.m. But he kinda hurts feelings, so it’s just a matter of time…

  99. Frank Stringer — if you hosted a radio show in the US, in which you denigrated Jews everyday, you would probably be forced off the air. Importantly, though, this would happen via popular veto as expressed through private organizations that would decline to purchase advertising so as not to be associated with your extreme views. No government involvement.

    Canadians are insane to have created the HRT in the first place, let alone to tolerate its persecution of politically incorrect opinions. Let Mr. Elmasry start his own media outlet if he wants equal time for his views. It worked for Rupert Murdoch.

  100. “Serious guy, thoughtful, well-spoken. Former president of the Canadian Isamic Congress youth wing. Long history of involvement in issues of “media misrepresentation” of Muslims…”

    Hmmm…

    Guess what was the boy-band doing lastnight in Vancouver.

    A friend of mine e-mails me that he got a call last night at 10:00 pm asking him to rally Muslim Youth to “Protest” outside the courthouse. Then he got another call just after 10:30 suggesting he arrange a meeting between Vancouver’s “Muslim youth leaders” and the leader of the boy-band who wanted to try and convince the reluctant local young Muslims to stage a protest against Macleans at the BCHRC. The attempt apparently fizzled, which shows that there is little apetite among BC’s Muslims to cater to the command of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  101. Don’t you dare to use reverse chronological order. It’s the most annoying thing in the blogiverse. Strike a blow for sanity.

  102. Frank Stringer:
    “Isn’t a civilised society one that protects minorities against the harmful actions and dangerous attitudes of the powerful?”

    Explain how Steyn’s book caused “harm” or how his attitude is “dangerous”. Why – because his book contained factual information on demographics? Because he accurately quoted some radical bigoted Muslims?

    And how did Macleans cause “harm”? How are they “dangerous”?

    Have you even bothered to read the book you condemn? The book America Alone is more about “us” (Western Civilization) and our laziness and in procreating. There is a population paradigm shift going on, and that is what Steyn talks about in America Alone – not a condemnation of Muslims. And you would know that had you bothered to educate yourself.

    I care more about the actions of a so-called democratic society, such as ours, putting such strong restrictions on free speech and freedom of the press. I don’t want to live in a country where the government controls, through the threat of these outrageous kangaroo courts, our freedom to speak.

    I don’t want to live in a country where the government can FORCE a private magazine or newspaper to print or not print something.

    And contrary to what some HRC employees believe, freedom of speech is NOT just an American concept – it is a democratic concept. And last time I checked Canada was a democratic country – though maybe not much longer.

  103. Murray, great comments. Spot on. Logical and natural consequences regulate freedom of expression quite nicely.

    MacLeans web folks, you should also number the comments so that they can more easily be referred to in replies etc. Even just a timestamp or something.

  104. “Wow. Kenney completely, thoroughly, and utterly destroyed Awan in that letter.”

    It was glorious.

  105. Freedom of Speech in the Charter always refers to the government not restricting a citizens right to free speech. It traditionally never has and never should apply to the issues of speech between individuals.

    Private organizations may restrict speech of their ebers all they wish, subject to the limits of the law. This is ultimately where the argument would go, a debate about the “ownership” of speech and the media it is disseminated in.

    You see Mr Rogers apparently has property rights. The Sockpuppets, Mr Joseph and the the good Dr Freeze are trying to abuse Mr Rogers property rights and impose something on a agazine that he and his shareholders own.

    You know in fact maybe there is a lawsuit here. Go buy soe Rogers shares and start a class action suit against these parties, should they win. They will have abused your rights and expropriated property without due compensation. I figure Rogers media is worth about a billion…..

  106. To me it seems strange Mark Steyn is awaiting a ruling by a bunch of legal thugs from a Country he emigrated from to live in the US. We should all be so lucky to live in a country that has a Constitution which enshrines free speech – The First Ammendment. Even if their media seems controlled by the left in the US and yes they do need permission to exist with a licence, they still have a right to fight for their rights in America. We should have abolished our antiquated political structure – the Monarchy with its top-down structure long ago and written a constitution of, by and for the PEOPLE ! Lets get to the root of our problems in Canada and stop trying to fix something that is not fixable! We need a free REPUBLIC!

    Gail Parker

  107. Thank goodness they have secured the services of an academic to explain the proper relationship between the Koran and Islamic society. As everyone knows this is a vital foundation for freedom of speech in Canada, such that remains of it

  108. I hope Macleans lawyers stay focused on the issue of free speech/freedom of the press.

    My fear is that this tribunal could become a mudslinging theological debate in which the complainants will claim spiritual superiority and thus all others are inferior and have no right to criticize something superior.

    This case is a theological/spiritual issue tried in a secular court, which no one is probably equipped to handle.

    My last paid issue of Macleans showed Christ on the front cover with by lines of questioning His Divinity, which came out around Easter. Was I offended? Yes. Was I mad? Of course. Did I seek compensation of any sort? No. As Christ said on the cross. “Father forgive them. For they do not know what they do.” And that is how I summed it up.

    Unfortunately it appears that the complainants can’t heed the words or apply some of the teachings of one of their prophets (Isa), maybe because others consider Him divine?

  109. America has the Second Ammendment as an ultimate backstop against this sort of naked fascism. Canada, the UK, et al are already well along in completely disarming the flock, er, people.

    One positive note: in the UK last week hundreds of truckers formed a convoy and stood up to their fascist “Green” rulers. They may not be armed as a defense against the depradations of their own government–as are the Yanks–but at least they have lorries and aren’t afraid to use ‘em.

    Time for all Western nations to drastically scale back the power of the state before we are plunged back into an even more horrific replay of the 20th century.

  110. Does anyone else find it curious that the Jason Kenney to Awan letter is not dated. This would be quite an oversight by the Minister’s staff.

  111. I’m worried, and I tell you why. The comments emanating from various Human Rights Commissions have produced an emotion within me that is somewhat akin to hatred for those very same Human Rights Commissions. Would they be guilty, or would I? Again, just askin’ . . . .