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Friday, May 21, 2010

Intellectual freedom in Canada: At Erosion of Freedom hearings, senator grants immortality to freedom blogger Kathy Shaidle

Blogger Kathy “Five Feet of Fury” Shaidle has been immortalized in Hansard, the proceedings of the Senate of Canada, by Senator Eaton, who said (April 13, 2010),
It’s Canada’s “human rights commissions”, which would have struck George Orwell as being perfectly named.

These commissions were started with the best of intentions – to help the poor and the weak from being bullied out of a job or an apartment. But they have become censors, policing not death threats or incitement to violence, or any other real crime, but rather the fake crime of hurt feelings.

They have become what author Kathy Shaidle calls a “ Tyranny of Nice ”.
Eaton also poignantly remembers great moments in Canadian history, when freedom of speech was protected, for example,
In 1935, exactly a century after Howe’s acquittal, across the country in Alberta, William Aberhart became premier, and like the political elites of Howe’s Halifax, he found Alberta’s newspapers to be troublesome and offensive.

Aberhart’s election came in the face of nearly universal opposition by the newspapers of the day. By 1937, he was so frustrated that he introduced the Accurate News and Information Act, that required every newspaper in the province to run a rebuttal or a “correction or amplification” when ordered to do so by the government.

Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor refused to proclaim the law until the Supreme Court could assess its constitutionality; he was punished by being stripped of his official residence, car and staff. Even without that law, Aberhart prosecuted his war against the press. The Alberta Legislature ordered that a reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Don Brown, be jailed for misquoting a government back-bencher. Luckily, national ridicule caused the government to back down before they could arrest him.

In the spring of 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that Alberta’s Press Act was illegal, and that it violated Canada’s unwritten bill of rights – the same code of freedom that had protected Joseph Howe. And for its efforts in fighting against Aberhart’s censorship, the Edmonton Journal was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize, the first time the citation was awarded outside of the United States.
But, sometimes I wonder if Canada’s media has changed, somehow. Too many seem to want to suck up to government (if Liberal) or the Opposition (if Liberal), perhaps on the theory that falling circulation numbers will somehow be replaced with government grants. Yes, the government would own the newspaper - but in truth it already did.

Better still, Kathy Shaidle, the girl immortalized in the Senate hearings on the decline in freedom of speech, also turns out to be a member of a proposed “victim group,” the shicksa.

Seriously, however, there is a long and uphill road ahead. Successfully fighting off challenges and getting commended in the Senate are wonderful news. But they mean little in the long run.

The increasingly oppressive anti-free speech laws remain in place, defended by iron rice bowls. Meanwhile, many people must now settle into reduced lifestyle expectations. So there will be relentless pressure to expand the “victim” racket. And how many politicians can resist the votes? The only hope is for self-identified non-victims to simply oppose it all, hammer and tongs, and make our votes count too.

If we want to be free, let’s make the fact that we do not want money from government a strength, not a weakness.

See also: Intellectual freedom in Canada: In Toronto, Nazis are considered victims of “hate crimes” - no, really!

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