An attack on Canada’s silly Political Thought Police, the Human Rights Commission has come from a very unlikely place, the liberal B’nai Brith. It is very rare to find this group protect freedom of speech but:
In a submission to an independent review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s hate speech mandate, the Jewish human rights group states that “when it comes to this particular threat to human rights, human rights commissions just don’t get it.” “Human rights commissions, like generals, are fighting the last war. They do not see new threats until they are overwhelmed by them. If, out of generosity than for no other reason, we should assume ignorance rather than wilful blindness, then the remedy is education and training,” reads the report, written by B’nai Brith’s senior legal counsel, David Matas.
The Canadian HRC is part of the group that went after Mark Steyn and Ezra Levin. Read more about the B’nai Brith attack below:
Rights bodies vulnerable to ‘political Islam’: B’nai Brith’Human rights commissions just don’t get it’Joseph Brean, National Post Published: Saturday, August 30, 2008Canada’s human rights commissions have shown “a disastrous combination of investigative zeal and substantive ignorance” that has left them vulnerable to abuse by “political Islam,” the same ideology that has hijacked the United Nations human rights council, according to B’nai Brith Canada.In a submission to an independent review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s hate speech mandate, the Jewish human rights group states that “when it comes to this particular threat to human rights, human rights commissions just don’t get it.””Human rights commissions, like generals, are fighting the last war. They do not see new threats until they are overwhelmed by them. If, out of generosity than for no other reason, we should assume ignorance rather than wilful blindness, then the remedy is education and training,” reads the report, written by B’nai Brith’s senior legal counsel, David Matas.His central thesis is that political Islam, an ideology that seeks to limit freedoms by marshalling the power of the state in defence of religion, constitutes the gravest threat to Canada’s human rights system. He points to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an international Muslim group that “successfully hijacked UN institutions to impose its own radicalized agenda,” and to the utter failure of many UN anti-racism initiatives, which have degenerated into outright anti-Semitism.The Canadian Islamic Congress, which brought three high-profile human rights complaints of Islamophobia against Maclean’s magazine, and has close ties to the OIC, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.Tarek Fatah, the co-founder of the reform-minded Muslim Canadian Congress, said Canadians are “not at all” aware that Islamists are “using Western law to attack Western values.””Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have any interest in this. Their effort is to appease these Islamist groups. They don’t wish to offend, and therefore the Islamists can walk over and literally blackmail politicians and the liberal intelligentsia into not saying a word about it,” he said.Mr. Fatah described the Islamist strategy as two-fold. Non-Muslim critics of Islam are labelled “Islamophobic,” which is equated in the public mind with racism, one of the most serious accusations in civil society. Muslim critics, however, such as Mr. Fatah himself, are labelled “apostates,” which he called a “hidden death threat.”It is this context that Canada’s human rights commissions have failed to appreciate, the B’nai Brith report says.It singles out Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, for her “egregious” and “appalling” treatment of the complaint against Maclean’s, which she dismissed as out of her jurisdiction, but went on to denounce the magazine for racism. Mr. Matas said this “made a human rights threat more acute.”In addition to better education and training, the report calls for substantial procedural reforms, including the awarding of costs to successful defendants, a prohibition on filing the same complaint in multiple jurisdictions, formal guarantees of due process, the right to disclosure and the right to know one’s accuser.Though deeply critical, the report said that to eliminate human rights hate speech laws — as has been proposed by Liberal MP Keith Martin, with substantial cross-party support — would amount to “self-inflicted harm.”Free speech is “the media’s favourite human right,” the report reads, and “those who advocate freedom of expression often go on to deny the equal right to be protected from advocacy of hatred…. The Holocaust did not begin with censorship. It began with hate speech. Auschwitz was built with words. The killing fields of Cambodia were sowed with slogans. The genocide of Rwanda was spread by radio. Bosnia was ethnically cleansed by television.”The report rejects the argument that hate-mongers in Canada are so marginalized that pursuing human rights complaints against them is anoverreaction, saying that this logic fails to appreciate that it was hate speech laws that marginalized them in the first place.It credits these laws with providing a more direct and less onerous response to hate-mongering than criminal prosecutions, and points to the prosecutions of anti-Semite schoolteacher Malcolm Ross in 1988, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel in 1996 and white supremacist Terry Long in 1989 as particular successes.The debate this year over human rights law and free speech has shaken a bureaucracy that had previously operated with little public attention.Driven by conservative bloggers, notably Ezra Levant, and fuelled by some surprising revelations, such as the apparent hacking of a civilian’s Internet connection by a hate speech investigator, the debate has become a voting issue, and prompted the Canadian Human Rights Commission to engage in public soul-searching, while also defending itself as a mere creature of statute, both empowered and hamstrung by Parliament’s laws.Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor who was appointed by the CHRC and is expected to publish his recommendations on hate speech in October, said few of his contributors have given him briefs as formal and substantial as B’nai Brith’s. Instead, he has engaged in informal meetings, e-mail correspondence and phone calls.”The time constraints on me, and resource constraints, too, meant I haven’t been able to do anything comprehensively. So what I’ve really aimed to do is just make sure I spoke to a representative group — those who have grave reservations and those who support the idea — so that I would hopefully get the full range of perspective,” Prof. Moon said.B’nai Brith is uniquely placed to contribute to that perspective, in that it has experience on all sides of the issue. They are an intervenor in a prominent hate speech case against far-right propagandist Marc Lemire, in which they support the hate speech provisions used against him.They brought a hate speech complaint, now resolved, against the Victoria- based Web site pej.orgover its writings about the “Jewish Lobby.” And they are a respondent in a hate speech case in Manitoba, over their sponsorship of a conference about terrorism for emergency responders. That case, brought by a Winnipeg Muslim leader who did not actually attend the conference, has taken almost five years to investigate. That experience has led to their current stance, which is deeply critical, but fundamentally supportive.”Our overall conclusion is that condemnation of human rights law’s jurisdiction over hate has become surrogate for criticism which is more properly directed elsewhere; to abusive complaints, lack of training for human rights commission staff, and procedural flaws in the system,” the report reads.