Monday, May 12, 2008

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson Does Not Support Free Speech

Or, rather, he's decided to adopt the left's view of free speech. A view in which speech is not actually free in any substantive sense of the term.

What am I talking about? The Conservative Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson has come out in support of section 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Act. A 50-page response to Marc Lemire's constitutional challenge to 13(1) was released by the Justice department.

Here are some of the choicest selections from the incoherent report:

[H]istory teems with examples of times when lies, distortions and propaganda empowered groups like the Nazis to repress speech. (Par. 58)


Propaganda against different religions and cultural groups encroaches on the freedom of Canada's diverse peoples to entertain their own beliefs, declare them openly without fear of "hindrance or reprisal" and to manifest them in practice. (Par. 109)


"[O]n a macro level, the general tone of society can affect the mind", and can lead to incivility and the "breakdown of community protection." (Par. 116)

Each statement is rife with historical revisionism and that last one might not even be written in English. I'm not going to bother commenting on this garrulous and, frankly, boring report. Ezra Levant has already thoroughly deconstructed and responded to its claims in detail.

UPDATE: Steyn's two cents? "Sentimental and ahistorical twaddle."

No Canadian who had a proper respect for the history of his country could write that sentence. Which is why it alone is a good example of why we need free speech. Nobody who gave it ten minutes' study would think that the Dominion of Canada, one of the oldest, peacefully evolved, constitutional democracies on the planet, is as "fragile" as the Weimar Republic or the Kingdom of Italy. So the most obvious "audaciously false propaganda" on display there is from the audaciously false propagandists on the Justice Department payroll. As to the general accuracy of the thesis, see my Maclean's piece on the proto-Trudeaupian "hate" laws of pre-Hitler Germany.

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