“A great deal of anger has been expressed”
By Ezra Levant on March 19, 2008
Last week, Maclean’s magazine filed its legal application http://ezralevant.com/2008/03/macleans-joins-the-battle.htmlÃ‚Â to open the doors of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s secret trial, scheduled for March 25th. It was a thoughtful application http://ezralevant.com/factum.pdf , with references to court cases and arguments about the importance of a transparent legal system. It was the kind of legal brief you’d expect from a top lawyer hired by one of Canada’s top media companies.
Now the Canadian Human Rights Commission has responded; you can read their slap-dash reply here http://ezralevant.com/CHRC%20reply.pdfÃ‚Â (I’m impressed that they even managed to spell one of their own staff’s names wrong).
The CHRC didn’t cite any case law in their reply. They made no legal arguments. Their response was just a paranoid, self-absorbed conspiracy theory that someone, somewhere on the Internet named “Edward Kennedy” wrote that he really hates HRC investigator Dean Steacy, one of the CHRC investigators who will be cross-examined next week.
These days, whenever I hear of bigoted or hateful comments by someone with a name like “Edward Kennedy” on a website http://www.freedominion.com/Ã‚Â that the CHRC just happens to be targetting — comments that just happen to be legally useful to the CHRC — my first thoughts are of, well, Dean Steacy himself. Like his friend Richard Warman http://www.richardwarman.com/ , Steacy has confessed under oath to posting provocative http://www.freedominion.com.pa/images/answers.pdfÃ‚Â or downright bigoted comments on websites he was hunting, using fake names.
Now, there might really be an “Edward Kennedy” out there who isn’t an agent provocateur working for the CHRC. He might even be serious that he wants harm to come to Steacy, and that he might actually do it — not just talk tough on an anonymous chat site. And he might even show up at the hearing in Ottawa next week with such intentions. If so, that would something for the police to look into — real police, not the feelings police of the HRCs. But I’m not quite sure how protecting against a ghost named “Edward Kennedy” is a justification to exclude Maclean’s reporter Charlie Gillis, Maclean’s columnist Mark Steyn, National Post reporter Joe Brean or other members of the public who aren’t named “Edward Kennedy” from attending the hearing.
The CHRC’s lawyer complains that public reports of Dean Steacy’s physical appearance — that he is vision-impaired — constitute a security risk that require Gillis, Steyn, Brean and others to be kept out of the courtroom, barred from watching the witnesses as they testify. It reminds me of Shirlene McGovern’s response to the blogosphere’s criticism of her interrogation of me at the Alberta HRC: she was fine grinding me through two years of scrutiny, demanding to know my personal political and religious thoughts, and dragging my name through the mud. But when she herself — as a government bureaucrat, paid with the public’s tax dollars — felt the first whiff of a public backlash, she resigned from my case in a huff http://ezralevant.com/2008/02/shire-network-news.html . These HRC commissars can sure dish it out, but they can’t take even the slightest scrutiny.
But read the appendices http://ezralevant.com/CHRC%20appendices.pdfÃ‚Â attached to the CHRC’s letter. There are some of “Edward Kennedy’s” comments. But the bulk of the clippings are political in nature — including excerpts from Mark Steyn’s political criticism of the CHRC. That’s what this is about: the CHRC isn’t really worried that an “Edward Kennedy” will assault Dean Steacy. They’re worried that Mark Steyn and Charlie Gillis and Joe Brean will write about Dean Steacy.
The CHRC is used to dealing with politically marginal characters like those who usually show up at CHRC hearings — people who howl in protest at the tribunal’s corruption and unfairness, but who are ignored by polite society. They’ve never faced real public scrutiny, because they’ve made the strategically wise decision to pick on political oddballs and weaklings. But ever since the HRC complaints against Macleans and me, polite company is starting to pay attention. The procedural abuses that were ignored before are now getting enormous exposure. As the CHRC’s response whines, “a great deal of anger has been expressed”. No kidding.
Of course I want the hearing to be opened to the public, because I don’t believe in secret trials — especially to hide the antics of some rogue government clerks who think that anonymously trolling racist websites constitutes some sort of crime-fighting in this post-9/11 era. I want the hearing open, because I want the world to see what goes on in the name of “human rights” in Canada these days. Shining sunlight into these star chambers is key to their denormalization http://ezralevant.com/2008/01/what-can-be-done.html .
But, I confess, I would be almost as happy if the tribunal accepted the CHRC’s whiny demand, and kept the reporters cooped up in some holding room, barred from even looking at Steacy and Hannya Rizk and the other CHRC witnesses. I can only imagine the simmering anger that would boil in that room. Some of the country’s best reporters, who are used to access to the highest Prime Ministers, Presidents, Supreme Courts, titans of business — and uninhibited access to the lowest of society, from accused murderers to disgraced politicians and industrialists — being told by some petty, counterfeit court that they are not allowed to watch “justice” be done. Oh, the CHRC doesn’t know what “a great deal of anger being expressed” looks like until they do that.