If I understand properly, Marc Lemire has been accused of violating a section of Canada's federal Human Rights legislation. I have tried to find a link to a good, unbiased, general description of Lemire's case but I have been unable to do so. Here's a link to Marc Lemire's Wikipedia entry.
Here's one quote:
A week from now, on March 25, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal will hold a hearing in Ottawa where the defendant, Marc Lemire, can ask human rights commission staff if they’ve used pseudonyms to plant hate messages in online discussion boards. The answer to that is apparently yes, but the hearing will hopefully provide more details about what goes on behind the scenes. (Lemire is associated with the Heritage Front, a white supremacist group, but the idea that human rights agents may be planting hate messages is repulsive).
This tribunal hearing will be public. At issue, it seems, is how the tribunal obtained evidence against Lemire. (Lemire's case has been ongoing for several years now.)
I am surprised that there has been almost no reports of this in most MSM. I have heard almost nothing about this on the CBC/Radio-Canada. The French blogosphere is entirely silent. (Although French Canada is not immune to this issue. André Arthur sits in the House of Commons in part because the CRTC removed the license of his radio station.)
Rick Mercer has touched on the issue. Here's Rick Mercer's latest rant.
Keith Martin MP has a private member's bill to abolish section 13:
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca Liberal MP Keith Martin is facing some heat over his private member's motion to delete a section of the Canadian Human Rights Act, but if anything, his motion doesn't go far enough.
Martin last week filed a notice of motion to scrap subsection 13 (1) of the act, which declares discriminatory the communication of messages "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt."
We have had previous diverse threads on the question of Canada's Human Rights commissions. Here are ones that I have found:
Supremacist group praises Liberal MP's proposal
Is publishing Danish cartoons in Canada a "crime"?
Transgendered NDP candidate
Flagrant Attack on Freedom of the Press
Woman suing gay bar in Montreal
And this thread in particular: This is America!, I Hope Canadians Feel the Same Way About Theirs
As to my own thoughts, here is what I once wrote in response to a post of Michael Hardner:
Is there a law that forbids you from discriminating against Pepsi in favour of Coke? Are you not free to discriminate against a Jewish shopkeeper and choose a Korean one instead? Are you not free to be sexist and have your hair cut by a woman instead of a man simply because you prefer a woman?
Canada's Charter of Rights places restrictions only on how the government can treat us. It says nothing about how we treat one another. You are free to discriminate in your choice of spouse, hairdresser, friends, shopkeeper and so on.
Following an American practice, we have developed in Canada Human Rights Tribunals which examine cases of discrimination in private transactions. The tribunals typically examine only alleged discrimination by one side of the transaction. Needless to say, these tribunals now have cases backlogged for several years and they pick and choose according to their own agenda.
Michael, it is logical that a Charter of Rights circumscribes the powers of the State (although the Charter need not be a single explicit document). The State, even democratic, is a monopoly. A local club or bar or hairdresser is not a monopoly. If you don't like their service, prices or clientele, you are free to go elsewhere. Do you think your decision not to use the services of a particular taxi driver should be subject to review by a human rights tribunal?
And, why do stores have the right to discriminate on the basis of poverty anyway? Should not stores treat rich and poor alike, without discrimination?
While I think that's true, I'm not so sure that a person should be free to place an anti-semitic billboard across the street from a synagogue. It is not civilized to go into a stranger's home and then describe their spouse as fat and ugly. On this forum, we have all seen the new posters who arrive and insult immediately. It's not civilized. We are generally grateful that Greg readily bans trolls who post here merely to provoke mayhem. I would prefer to live in a civilized society and I think the State can foster this. I just don't know how this is to be organized.
But should the CHRC take on an Internet web site? One with little traffic? In some ways, this is a stoopid, ugly Internet Rabble vs. Free Dominion, flame war, skirmish. (MLW seems to have found a polite modus operandi to resolve these - Greg just warns and then bans a few posters.)
I also think that Richard Warman - one of the accusers against Marc Lemire - is a modern day Savonarola or McCarthy. People who operate this way are bound to finish on their own bonfire. I think Canada's human rights commissions have a similar destination.
This has the potential to become a third rail/wedge issue. If it ever occupied centre stage of Canadian federal politics, when the dust settled, the tribunals might be on the wrong side of the number count. But it would be a wrenching of Canadian federal politics and I think Canada has other more important issues to put on centre stage.
As a last point, a point that I have never seen noted elsewhere on whatever side of this issue, I still feel that the backlogs of Canada's human rights tribunals is their truly damning feature. Backlogs mean that they can pick and choose according to whim. They are arbitrary. As I posted before:
The following is from an internal report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission:
Canadian Human Rights Commission
In 2001, through a detailed review of its 24 years of operation, the Commission determined that it had been accumulating a backlog of complaints since its inception. The backlog is the number of open cases in excess of the number that would normally be open if the Commission were completing as many cases as it was taking in each year. Although the Commission has reduced this backlog at various points in its history, it has never had the capacity to deal with all of the complaints filed in a given year. For example, in 2002, the Commission received 800 signed complaints, 200 more than it is resourced to handle under its traditional business model.
In 2002, a review of the Commission's service and operational standards concluded that, under current procedures, it takes up to two years to investigate a complaint. The review confirmed that the approach by which it had been processing complaints did not lend itself to setting reasonable service standards. The length of the complaint process and the fact that the backlog was endemic led to the conclusion that major reform to the business model was needed. The comprehensive reform of the complaint process began in the fall of 2002.
Such backlogs for such a tribunal are an invitation to abuse. This is not justice in any sense of the term. It is arbitrary application of opinion.
Are human rights commissions arbitrary? Must we respect their decisions? Apparently not - according to Gerald Tremblay, the Mayor of Montreal. He just ignores decisions of human rights tribunals:
The Quebec Human Rights Commission has found in favour of four Montreal teens who claimed they were victims of racial profiling by the Montreal police.
The commission recommended in a decision made public yesterday that the city put measures in place to put an end to racial profiling.
It also ordered the city to pay $47,000 in damages plus interest to the four teens and their families for the incidents that took place in August, 2003.
But the cheque isn't exactly in the mail, Montreal's La Presse reports today. Mayor Gerald Tremblay says he doesn't plan to conform to the commission's recommendations and both the city and police say the officers did nothing wrong.
Edited by August1991, 21 March 2008 - 11:01 PM.