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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Intellectual freedom in Canada news roundup

Any time I begin a posting cycle these days, I tend to begin with "Intellectual freedom in Canada". Why? Because if you cannot say what is wrong with an idea, you cannot plausibly say what might be right about it either.

Everybody becomes a public relations agent for the government or for ... who?

Anyway, here's a recent news round-up:

- Here's the transcript of Ezra Levant's and Mark Steyn's testimony at the Canadian Parliament's Justice Committee.

Frankly, I would not hope for too much. The only thing that will really help is serious rage among small bed and breakfast owners, late nite comedians, and such.

See, the "human rights" racket worked as long as the racketeers had enough sense to attack only people whose votes the government doesn't care about.

The government cares about Joe Lotto's and Jane Donut's votes. And Joe Lotto and Jane Donut don't care what happens to some Catholic bishop or some Jew or a guy people think is a Jew.


But what happens when everybody in the country is at risk from their endless, government-funded inquisition? Is everyone going to agree to barf up hundreds of dollars for someone who claims to be "offended" in a completely stupid situation?

Even money in my view. On to the next story.

- Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee tells me,

REGINA — Former cabinet minister turned convicted murderer Colin Thatcher faces a court battle to keep his $5,000 book advance and any royalties, as the provincial government put in motion last week a bid to seize the cash and redirect it to victims.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice has filed a document in the Court of Queen's Bench in Regina, indicating it will seek an order directing Thatcher to comply with the Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act. A court date has been set for Oct. 29.

Angela Hall reports for the Regina Leader-Post:

CBC News also reports.

Carter also tells me that thanks go to Marian Hebb in Toronto for forwarding the CBC's story. Indeed. Hebb has been a free speech lawyer for years.

My own view? Just as I do not think government should raise money from lotteries to fund scanners at hospitals*, I also do not think government should scarf the proceeds of crime. The fact that some perps can write and others can't is, well, a fact of life. Some are smart and some are not.

In the case of the smarter and more interesting perps, relatives of the victims should have the right to sue for some part of the proceeds - something the publishing company ( to say nothing of the perp) may wish to take into account, when deciding to publish.

*because I think government is better advised to charge, through taxes, what it costs to run a health care system at the level desired by citizens, and quit using stupid tricks to finance it.

- Carter also tells me that press freedom declined in Canada within the last year, according to an annual ranking of 175 countries by Reporters Without Borders.

Released Tuesday, the index places Canada in 19th place, a drop of six spots from 2008.

Here is RWB's latest list. Here is the Canadian Press. Here is Winnpeg Free Press.

Am I surprised? Of course not. It has become progressively impossible in this country to discuss issues that divide us, due to "human rights" and political correctness.

- Carter also notes,

The Supreme Court of Canada is considering the case of a Globe reporter. Daniel Leblanc is seeking to protect the anonymity of the source who blew the whistle on Quebec's sponsorship scandal. Kirk Makin reports for The Globe and Mail.
Tonda MacCharles reports for the Toronto Star. CBC News reports.
A difficult problem. Traditionally, the journalist was expected to risk jail to protect sources (often, that was the only way to get the story). One runs the risk, not only of jail, but of not being believed - or worst, believing an unreliable source. Well, journalism done right is one of the world's truly dangerous professions.

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