THE BACK PAGES

Kangaroo court is now in session

At the Canadian Human Rights Commission, it all comes down to double-sided faxes

MARK STEYN April 7 2008
THE BACK PAGES

Kangaroo court is now in session

At the Canadian Human Rights Commission, it all comes down to double-sided faxes

MARK STEYN April 7 2008

Kangaroo court is now in session

steyn

At the Canadian Human Rights Commission, it all comes down to double-sided faxes

MARK STEYN

“If anything I said above upsets you, please lodge a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission,” Kevin Baker advised his readers the other day. “You pay nothing. Filing is risk-free.” The National Post columnist had penned a gloriously insensitive opening paragraph suggesting that Ontario’s polygamous welfare deadbeats collecting individual dole handouts for each of their wives might like to corral their better halves (better eighths?) into a Muslim curling team. Mr. Baker proposed this because he’s decided he wants a slice of the human rights action, such as yours truly and Maclean’s have been enjoying these last three or four months. “I want to be a free-speech martyr, too. Give me some of that CHRC hate-speech love.” The big bucks are in getting your ass sued off for “flagrant Islamophobia.”

As Mr. Baker sees it, before I became the metaphorical Nelson Mandela metaphorically tasered into metaphorical submission by the metaphorical Gestapo of the sadly nonmetaphorical Canadian Human Rights Commission, I was an amusing fellow prancing gaily through the flotsam and jetsam of the culture, twittering merrily on such weighty topics as Princess Margaret, Liza Minnelli and John Ralston Saul’s pre-viceregal fondness for the nude beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Ah, those were the days. As they say in Casablanca, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Liza wore black, John Ralston Saul wore, er, nothing. But I’ve put that flesh-coloured see-through thong away. When the CHRC thought police march out, I’ll wear it again, even if he won’t.

While the career benefits of free-speech martyrdom are perhaps not quite as lucra-

tive as Kevin Baker assumes, I do take a quiet satisfaction in knowing that, publicity-wise, the last three months have been the worst in the entire existence of the “human rights” commissions. When news of the lawsuit against Maclean’s broke in early December, those who spoke up for the right of privately owned magazines to determine their own content were what one might call (Casablanca again) the usual suspects: George Jonas, Barbara Amiel, David Warren. No disrespect to my eminent comrades, but I had the vague feeling we might end up holding the big capacity-only free-speech rally in my Honda Civic. For a while, there was more interest abroad than at home, with the New York Post, the Australian, The Economist and the BBC taking up the story, while the Toronto Star et al. stayed silent. But then Liberal MP Keith Martin embraced the cause and proposed abolishing the grotesquely mismanaged Section 13 of the Human Rights Code, and the Canadian Association of Journalists and PEN Canada (i.e., all the CanCon lefties, and headed by nude playboy John Ralston Saul to boot) decided to sign on. The Globe And Mail eventually came out against the speech police, and so did CBC colossi Rex Murphy and Rick Mercer, and even Noam Chomsky. And by the time the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was obliged (after a court motion filed by Maclean’s) to open its doors to the press and public, the presiding judge Athanios Hajdis uttered words rarely heard in the Canadian “human rights” biz: “Nice to see you all,” he offered the crowd. “More of an interest than there was before.”

I’ll say. Meanwhile, you can’t but notice how few friends the “human rights” racket has. Almost everyone who speaks up for a

system that drags Canada’s biggest newsweekly into court for thought crimes turns out to be either a current or former beneficiary of the aforesaid system. Take, for example, our own letters page the other week. Bill Baergen of Stettler, Alta., wrote:

“I take exception to Mark Steyn’s unfounded allegation that the human rights racket is a disgrace. I am proud to say I was one of seven commissioners on the Alberta Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2006 and never felt I was part of a racket, much less a disgraceful one. Nor do I accept the kangaroo court epithet thrown around by the erudite generalization-manufacturer, Steyn.

“First, why does he place ‘human rights’ in quotation marks? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, forged by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 uses the phrase, so it needn’t be treated as something foreign to most people.”

Well, since you ask, I put “human rights” in scare quotes when I refer to, say, the Alberta “Human Rights” Commission because the “human rights” commissions’ notion of “human rights” has nothing to do with real human rights such as those adumbrated in the UN declaration. Indeed, Canada’s scare-quote “human rights”—the “human right” to a labiaplasty or to smoke marijuana in another guy’s doorway or to not be called a “loser” in the hair salon— explicitly trample over several of the real human rights in the Universal Declaration, notably the right to the presumption of innocence. That’s why there’s a 100 per cent conviction rate for federal Section 13 cases. So Bill Baergen’s pals are in sustained systemic breach of the UN declaration.

As for Mr. Baergen’s “pride” in being on the Alberta Human Rights Commission for a decade, chacun à son goût. Personally, I’d be ashamed. Here’s why: the Danish cartoons crisis precipitated a lot of predictably craven remarks by European commissioners, U.S. State Department officials, the British foreign secretary, etc., all giving aid and comfort to the thugs and bullies threatening to “behead the enemies of Islam.” Yet, for all the AngloEuro-American squishiness and generalized anguish about the need for the media to be more “sensitive,” only one government agency in the Western world actually hauled a publisher into court for the “crime” of publishing those cartoons—and it was the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which dragged Ezra Levant of the Western Standard into an interrogation room to explain himself before one ofMr. Baergen’s colleagues. So, yes, the Alberta HRC is a racket, and a disgraceful one, and that’s why the system has so few defenders other than its apparatchiks.

I can’t claim to be privy to the thoughts of the HRC inner circle, but I would imagine if they could turn back the clock they’d gladly drop the Western Standard and Maclean’s prosecutions, and go back to their nice little earner of sticking it to neo-Nazis, homophobic Christians, and other underfunded losers in basements whom they could chastise with impunity, far from the prying eyes of press and public. Instead, on Tuesday morning, dawn broke in Ottawa, not just in the hey-Steyn-what’s-withthe-purple-prose-scene-setting-stuff, but in the sense that a rare shaft of sunlight penetrated the Uth floor at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on Elgin Street.

We were there to hear how Canadian Human Rights Commission “investigators” go about their work. The last time anyone tried asking that, the commission’s lawyers invoked Section 37—the James Bond clause: we can’t answer your questions because of national security. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, the CHRC prefers to operate under conditions of total eclipse. It’s a measure of how far the “human rights” racket has departed from the norms of Canadian justice that the CHRC saw nothing wrong in attempting to exclude even the defendant, Marc Lemire, from his own trial.

Who is Marc Lemire? Ah, well, he’s not the poster boy one would pick for a campaign to restore Canadian liberties, particularly if the poster shows him in the quasi-Nazi getup he’s wearing in that picture of him standing behind Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. Mr. Lemire is the former leader of Canada’s supposed neo-Nazi group, “Heritage Front,” and, when Richard Warman, the CHRC’s former employee turned serial human rights “victim,” decided to sic his old buddies at the commission on him, he presumably assumed Lemire was just the latest no-name “white supremacist” basement-loser he could hound into submission and penury.

Unfortunately for the CHRC, Marc Lemire has been inconsiderate enough to defend himself, and their determination to obstruct him has wound up making the issue not him but them, and some of their dodgier practices. Let’s start with the easy stuff first. If Bill Baergen doesn’t like my scare quotes round “human rights,” let’s move ‘em: The “Canadian” Human Rights Commission does not treat all Canadians equally. The lead investigator testifying on Tuesday, Dean Steacy, is blind, but the justice his commission administers certainly isn’t: if you’re one of their allies, they’ll start lurking on websites before you’ve made a formal complaint. But, if you’re not simpático, they’ll reject your complaint on the grounds that it was on double-sided paper. Which was what happened to Mr. Lemire, when he tried to file his own Section 13 complaint against the police. Apparently, Mr. Lemire’s complaint was double-sided— which came as news to Mr. Lemire, since he faxed it in. But by the time it uncoiled itself at the other end it had become the first doublesided fax on the planet. “I don’t know what happened to the fax,” said Mr. Steacy noncommittally. Hey, it’s a federal bureaucracy: things happen. Evidently one reason why Richard Warman has been the complainant on every Section 13 case since 2002 is that he’s the only one who remembers the critical single-sided rule.

Marc Lemire then wrote a post on the Stormfront website explaining that his complaint had been rejected by Dean Steacy. Up popped “jadewarr” with a follow-up post. Who, you’re wondering, is “jadewarr”?

“It’s ‘jade war’ not ‘jade ware,’ ” said Dean Steacy, a little tetchily, to counsel. Mr. Steacy is the lead Section 13 “hate” investigator of the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission, but he may be better known—at least to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis among you—as “jadewarr,” his nom de guerre when he goes lurking on the Internet. “Jadeware” sounds like a nice wedding gift from Eaton’s, whereas “jadewarr” is an abbreviation for Jade Warrior, who is “a character out of a novel that I read as a teenager,” explained Mr. Steacy.

I’m sure many Canadians have found themselves in that embarrassing situation where you cruise an Internet dating site, hook up with a hot blond 17-year-old cheerleader and arrange to meet only to find that Candii is, in fact, a 54-year-old overweight male accountant. Alas, the problem’s far worse for a neo-Nazi hoping to find a friendly website and meet a few kindred spirits. There must be a few genuine white supremacists whooping it up over at “Stormfront,” but they seem to be thin on the ground. Mr. Steacy, the CHRC’s lead investigator, is a member of Stormfront; Richard Warman,

celebrated Canadian “human rights” crusader and plaintiff on every CHRC case since 2002, is a member of Stormfront; and Sgt. Stephen Camp is a member of Stormfront. What proportion of Canada’s “white supremacists” are, in fact, government employees? On a quiet day, chances must be pretty good that you’ll log on and find the joint deserted except for “jadewarr” (Mr. Steacy) trying to entrap “estate” (Sgt. Camp) while “estate” (Sgt. Camp) is simultaneously trying to entrap “axetogrind” (Mr. Warman). “There really should be a register of pseudonyms,” urged lawyer Doug Christie, “so that investigators don’t wind up investigating each other.”

Welcome to the wacky world of Canadian “human rights.” If it sounds like a fetish club for servants of the Crown, well, that would be a lot cheaper. This is a long battle to reform a secretive and decadent institution. But Keith Martin is right: Section 13 should be repealed. We need a royal commission. And “jadewarr” and chums might be encouraged to find more useful employment. M