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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Message to Canadian readers: Make intellectual freedom an election issue

Rob Breckenridge, host of The World Tonight, weeknights from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on AM770 CHQR, urges Canadians to make free speech an issue in the current Canadian election campaign (vote October 14):
Election gag laws are just one symptom of the malaise descending over Canadian society. When freedom of speech is ailing, democracy itself cannot be well.

Let's take advantage of the opportunity presented to us, and use this election campaign to find out how committed all of the parties are to the issue of freedom of expression, and what if anything needs to change.

It's not as though the politicians need to be dragged kicking and screaming into a debate over freedom of speech - it's right there beneath the surface:

The national critical issues survey sent out to Conservative candidates includes this question: "Do you agree that some of these 'human rights tribunals' have overstepped their bounds?" Sounds like the perfect question to ask during the leaders debate.

Earlier this year, a Liberal MP brought forward private member's motion M-446, which would eliminate Section 13(1) from the federal human rights legislation, thus removing the ability of human rights commissions to take on complaints regarding speech. How do the various parties feel about M-446? Or about Section 13 itself?

The opposition parties, meanwhile, have assailed the government over Bill C-10, which could deny film tax credits to Canadian-made movies deemed to be "too controversial" in content. While denying a tax credit is hardly tantamount to censorship, one could envision financial pressures exerting a chill of sorts on the Canadian film industry.

By all means, let's revisit that debate and gauge the parties' views on artistic expression. Whether it's "Young People F---ing" or the infamous Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons, artistic freedom and freedom of speech are one and the same.

For what it is worth, here are my views on the three key topics Rob raises:

- Election gag laws. They are supported by all parties because they benefit the professional politician over against the voter. Conservative Stephen Harper, Liberal Stephane Dion, socialist Jack Layton, that Green party gal - politicians from fruit right over to nuts - benefit from restricting the issues that people are allowed to bring up during a campaign.

Essentially, under an election gag law, all the politicians can agree to ignore an issue and then no one else can bring it up in advertising - no matter how important the electorate feels it is. So are you surprised that they all tend to support election gag laws? We should all join Rob in opposing them.

- the infamous Section 13 and the Canadian "human rights" commissions in general. I have written much on them, and have appended some links below. Essentially, when you ask your local politicians where they stand on Section 13 and the "human rights" commissions, you are asking them whether they still think liberal democracy is a worthwhile form of government.

Expect to hear massive hesitancy and qualification from some. Some politicians enjoy wielding unchecked power. And the pay isn't bad, either - they vote their pay themselves, of course.

- Bill C-10. Happily, I cannot yet be forced to see the awful "controversial Canadian films" that opponents of C-10 want to protect. However, until we shut down the "human rights" commissions, I agree with Stephen Harper that the government should distance itself as far as possible from anything that might "offend" anybody. Taxpayers cannot be on the hook for massive awards to people who are offended by garbage whose only connection to us is that fatuous civil servants agreed to front it.

However, if the commissions are shut down and no one can get awards simply for feeling offended, I won't get my shirt in a knot about the government throwing some cash at Moon Bat City's many film crews. It's a bit better for national stats than just putting them on welfare. We can pretend a little longer that we have a viable film industry that isn't merely Hollywood North.

E-mail Rob here if you want to comment on the article linked above.

Here's Suzanne Fortin on free speech:

We're at a crucial juncture in the history of Canada. We either protect free speech, or we go down the road of imposed ideological conformity.

This may sound a little alarmist to the average Canadian, who probably does not have a lot of time for these issues. I know this-- I'm a mom, and I know I can't follow all the issues, either.

The erosion of free speech is nothing less than the erosion to seek and expound Truth. How can I find Truth if I am not allowed to ask uncomfortable questions? How can I spread the Truth-- or even just test a working hypothesis-- if I cannot say what's on my mind?

Suzanne! Why don't you trust government-paid hacks to tell you what you may think? You must need therapy! You can be ordered into therapy, you know ....

(Note: Readers, if you are just itching to write and remind me that Rob and I were recently involved in a public squabble over his membership in the ridiculous Darwin cult, save your typing fingers. We both want to live in a country where his membership is okay, and it is okay for me to make fun of it. )

Recent posts on Canada's intellectual freedom crisis:

Liberal fascism: A survival manual for non-fascists in Canada (and probably in Europe)

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Political science profs nervous about coming here ...

Intellectual freedom: Survival is design not chance. O'Leary's plenary address to Write! Canada 2008, for which she received a standing ovation

Canadian election nears ... a chance to vote for freedom?

Intellectual Freedom in Canada: Oops ... a political party has actually noticed the problem? Not just collecting fat pay cheques?

The Mark Steyn show trial in Vancouver

Canadian radio bureau chief: Yes, the campaign to suppress free speech in Canada does affect the United States

Intellectual freedom: Is misunderstanding of Internet
part of Canada's "human rights" problem?

Write! Canada coverage highlights intellectual freedom risks, troubles of book industry

Open letter to comedian Guy Earle ... the latest to be charged by a Canadian "human rights"commission

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Friends fear the comics won't dare be funny in ways that matter

Intellectual freedom in Canada: ... Look out, PC bigots! The True North strong and free is shaking off your chains ...

Canadian comics rally for freedom: Let's
LAUGH Canada's "human rights" commissions out of existence!

I must reserve a ticket for the Canuck Comics' rally for freedom

Intellectual freedom in Canada: The first order of business is comedy!

Dutch cartoonist arrested for rude cartoons

No, not without a fight ...

Roundup, plus, Focus, guys, focus: To restore civil rights, get our laws changed, don't attack individuals

To find out why there is an intelligent design controversy, read:

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