A bleak outlook for free speech in Ontario?

A large part of society’s problem with LGBT people right now, as I see it, is that they are not satisfied with tolerance, or even acceptance.  They demand full-fledged approval, and whoever fails to give it to them can be mercilessly hounded, as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford can undoubtedly attest.

The demand for approval appears to me to be one of many ‘constructs’ designed to assist in the various avenues being employed to re-engineer society, and to change it into something which the great majority of us might not want to live in.

Another such ‘construct’ is the notion that schools are ‘co-parents’ in the raising of children, thus justifying sex ‘education/indoctrination’ for youngsters, and invasive psychological testing questionnaires such as the one presently causing such an upset in Scarborough.

A further construct, as I see it, is the notion that anti-Semitism and ‘hate’ can only be effectively dealt with through ‘community action’, see here and here.  (There are many other examples available on the internet.)

These various constructs have many practitioners, and when it comes to “human rights”, the former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress (now the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy), Bernie Farber, seems to be right up there.  Indeed, he recently said in his Huffington Post blog that “I never really liked the word ‘tolerance.’ It suggests the bare minimum. Simply tolerating each other is far from accepting or, better yet, celebrating each other. In the end “tolerance” is not much of a value statement.” (See here.)

That clearly supports the LGBT demands for approval referred to above, and could well be a potential career-booster for him if he is indeed, as rumoured, angling to replace Barbara Hall as  the head of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission.

As I suggested recently, the demise of Canada’s notorious “Section 13” clause, while welcome in many different ways, is not necessarily the end of the efforts to persecute and punish those who refuse to toe the politically-correct line on immigration, Israel, and a host of other staples of the human rights and political-correctness “industries”.

Each and every one of Canada’s provinces and territories possesses its own legislation, and human rights practitioners will now fall back on them.  And if Bernie Farber becomes Ontario’s head human rights honcho, free speech advocates could find themselves in for a rough ride, at least for a while.

In his column “Vilified Internet hate crusader was the real hero” published in the Ottawa Sun just a few days ago, (see link below), Mr. Farber had this to say about Section 13’s serial plaintiff Richard Warman:

“A key figure who utilized S13 to help defend ethnic and faith minorities against toxic speech is a friend and a person I consider a hero, Richard Warman. Sadly instead of gratitude Richard was victimized for his efforts.

“While many did engage in a rational debate on S13, some scurrilously targeted him. It appeared they were more interested in their freedom to hate as opposed to their freedom of speech.”

Mr. Farber then goes on to list several particularly gross examples of internet postings which he describes as “outright calls for genocide and/or ethnic cleansing.”  Of course, such speech clearly comes under the provisions of the criminal code, and thus hardly serves to demonstrate any need for Section 13 to have been retained.  Indeed, one may wonder why Mr. Warman chose to pursue these various examples himself, rather than simply have the police pursue them, thus saving himself the time and effort.

Then again, perhaps an agenda of sorts was involved.  Richard Warman employs a policy of “maximum disruption”, and in his Wikipedia entry we find the following information (link below):

“At the conclusion of his complaint against Jason Ouwendyk and the Northern Alliance, in March 2009, the CHRT criticized Warman for having posted messages on neo-Nazi sites, as if in agreement with other racist and antisemitic posts. During the hearing Mr. Warman initially denied that he was the individual who had made the posts under the pseudonyms Axetogrind and Pogue Mahone. In one post, in response to a comment in January 2005 about American neo-Nazi leader Jeff Schoep, Warman wrote, “Keep up the good work Commander Schoep!” The CHRT ruled that Warman’s posts could have precipitated further hate messages from forum members, and that “his participation on Internet sites similar to the Northern Alliance is both disappointing and disturbing and it diminishes his credibility.” The CHRT therefore did not prescribe any penalties beyond a cease-and-desist order against Mr. Ouwendyk.”

And elsewhere, attributed to MacLean’s Magazine:

“…[T]he slam-dunk quality to Warman’s Section 13 cases are a cause for worry, symbolizing the drift of human rights commissions into the boggy territory of covert investigation and speech control. Those concerns deepened two weeks ago with revelations that, for a time, Warman was acting both as a complainant and an investigator at the commission. Even after he left in 2004, he seemed to enjoy easy access to commission offices, stopping by to chat with staff or get documents printed. … Of the fact Warman and investigators were going online undercover, [Keith] Martin says simply, “That’s appalling.”

I find it significant that Richard Warman received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award from the Canadian Jewish Congress in June 2007, during Bernie Farber’s term as CEO,  for “distinguished service to the cause of human rights”.  We should therefore be under no illusions as to the shape that human rights enforcement in Ontario may take under Mr. Farber’s leadership, particularly if he should see fit to have the OHRC employ his friend and hero Richard Warman’s talents to that end.

And finally, regarding Mr. Farber’s potential candidacy as the top Ontario human rights enforcer, I refer to Christina Blizzards Toronto Sun article “Bernie Farber fables” of July 24th, 2011 (link below), in which she discussed Mr. Farber’s reference to his sister-in-law’s passing from breast cancer.  He was making a critique of the Ontario healthcare system while running as a candidate in the Ontario election.  The woman’s husband strongly objected, saying:

“Contrary to what Bernie states, my wife Joanne received excellent health care at every level during her over 3 year struggle with cancer.”  He added, “Joanne is missed by me and my son Jack everyday and it is a shame to have her struggle with cancer thrown around like a political football by a candidate who knows better.”

Something to think about.

Jeff Goodall.

Human rights commission’s time is up

Ottawa Sun
Anthony Furey
June 2nd, 2012

In November Barbara Hall’s term will be up as head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. But it looks like she’s not going gentle into the good night.

In case you needed any more evidence that the OHRC has worn out its welcome, here’s one for you.

While I was appearing on Sun News last week, Brian Lilley tossed a quote up on the screen from Hall. What she was commenting on doesn’t matter, but how she introduced her statement certainly does: “Ontario’s Human Rights Code is, in a sense, Ontario’s highest law.”

Really? Let’s do a little syllogism here: OHRC-related legislation is the highest in the land; Barbara Hall is the head of the OHRC; therefore Barbara Hall is the highest authority in Ontario.

Luckily we went straight to commercial after that line hit the screen, otherwise I wouldn’t have had enough time to pick my jaw up off the floor. It just astounded me that she would preface her commentary with a line that implies “My word is law.”

If you’re not familiar with the history of Canada’s HRCs you might be asking “what’s the big deal?” Well the big deal is that human rights commissions – and their related tribunals – aren’t about bringing war criminals to justice, or exclusively concerned with people who were fired merely because of their skin colour (which is a far more legitimate pursuit more in line with the mandate on which the OHRC was founded decades ago).

No. Their high profile cases are more often about how someone was offended by a comedian, or not liking something a columnist wrote.

They almost saved the world by stamping out that trio of supervillains Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant and Barbara Amiel. Apparently their wordsmith skills are so mighty that, when they wrote columns (or published cartoons, in Ezra’s case) implying they weren’t head over heels in love with Islam, a court was actually willing to hear a case amounting to the fact people didn’t like their opinions.

The rumour mill has it that former Canadian Jewish Congress leader and Ontario Liberal candidate Bernie Farber is a contender to replace Hall. True or false, it’s worth contemplating. Farber is something of an expert on human rights and hate crime matters. He also seems to be auditioning for the part via his Huffington Post blog, where he is billed as a “Human Rights Advocate”.

Here’s the opening of his May 28 column: “I never really liked the word “tolerance.” It suggests the bare minimum. Simply tolerating each other is far from accepting or, better yet, celebrating each other. In the end “tolerance” is not much of a value statement.”

While later in the column, Farber makes it clear that he’s not suggesting any legislation to enforce “celebrating each other”, this is still an eerie column. To have someone muse on their Facebook page about this is one thing. To hear it from someone who has clout in the shaping of public opinion, and could end up being the head of an agency that thinks it can force us to celebrate each other, is another.

There are many special interest groups who I have zero interest in celebrating. In fact – get ready to call the cops on this one – in the company of friends I even speak poorly of some. And I suspect there are others who do the same about me. That’s the great thing about a free society though, the government doesn’t tell you who you must like.

So-called small government proponents like Tim Hudak and Randy Hillier have already cooled off declawing the Ontario commission and tribunal. But that shouldn’t stop regular people tired of being told by the government which interest groups to “celebrate” from speaking up. Hall’s retirement is the perfect occasion to revive the conversation.

anthony.furey@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @anthonyfurey

See original here.

See Bernie Farber’s Wikipedia page here.

See “Vilified Internet hate crusader was the real hero” here.

See Richard Warman’s Wikipedia page here.

See “Bernie Farber fables?” here.

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