Canada’s national and provincial Human RIghts Commissions (HRC) were established to give the common person a way to protect themselves from discrimination. But as the amount of genuine bigotry has decreased in Canada, the goals of the commissions have changed. They now often persecute people merely for exercising their right to free speech, their right to criticize the political, religious, or sexual beliefs of others. Canadian civil rights activist, Alan Borovoy, originally a supporter of HRCs, has turned against their present incarnation, saying that he never foresaw the use of human rights laws as an instrument of censorship. There is no right not to be offended.
The Human Rights Commissions are not required to abide by the strict rules that the normal court system is required to obey:
- Hearsay is admissible in HRC hearings,
- No loser-pays rule for legal defense costs,
- No warrant required for HRC searches,
- No right against self-incrimination in HRC hearings,
- Proving that your assertions are true is an effective defense in traditional defamation of character lawsuits, but not for trial by HRC.
Levant cites some examples of abuse:
- The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal convicted Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation of discriminating against Ghassan Asad, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia, because a Kinexus employee called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to let them know that Asad was behaving suspiciously and might be a terrorist.
- The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal convicted the Vancouver Rape Relief centre of discriminating against, Kimberly Nixon, a male-to-female transsexual, for prohibiting him from counseling female rape victims, because they had a policy that only women were allowed to counsel female rape victims. The verdict was overturned on appeal.
- The Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered the Reverend Stephen Boissoin, a Christian, to cease making disparaging remarks about homosexuals in newspapers, email, radio or public speeches after he wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate criticizing the public schools for promoting a pro-homosexual agenda.
- The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal fined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police half a million dollars, because it objected to Iranian Muslim immigrant Ali Tahmourpour wearing a religious amulet during training exercises.
In 2006, Levant himself got into trouble with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, when his Western Standard magazine reprinted the the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons cartoons about the prophet Mohammed, and when during a radio debate with Pakistani immigrant Syed Soharwardy, Levant insulted Soharwardy. Ezra Levant says that he was able to win, because of the support he received from Internet blogs and YouTube.
In 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress sued Maclean’s magazine for publishing an article by Mark Steyn that was critical of Islam. The magazine received support from the Toronto Globe and Mail, PEN Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists, and was able to prevail.