UPDATE: Video of the hearing has now been uploaded to YouTube. Click here to view the post that includes footage from right inside the hearing!
Ezra Levant – conservative political activist, columnist, lawyer, and former proprietor of the now-defunct Western Standard magazine – is a true man of courage. After printing the now-infamous Muhammad Cartoons in the pages of The Western Standard in 2006 (here’s one of them:), Levant was slapped with a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission by radical Calgary rabble-rouser Syed Soharwady. As is the case with these bastions of censorship and arbitrary justice that exist in every Canadian province (plus the Canada Human Rights Commission at the Federal level), Levant had no opportunity to petition for a dismissal of this nuissance suit that has cost him hundreds of hours in preparation, and thousands of dollars in costs.
Never one to be cowed by fascistic opponents, Levant is doing us all a favour by facing the tribunal head-on, and using this opportunity to expose the Human Rights Commissions as the Kafka-esque slaughterhouses of the concepts of free expression and free speech in Canada, as well as the true agenda of the radical Islamist front groups that sponsor these complaints.
Levant’s tribunal hearing took place today; he has posted his opening statement to his blog, which is a brilliant polemic that pulls no punches. Read the whole thing here; here are some exceprts:
Alberta Human Rights Commission Interrogation
Opening remarks by Ezra Levant, January 11, 2008 – Calgary
My name is Ezra Levant. Before this government interrogation begins, I will make a statement.
When the Western Standard magazine printed the Danish cartoons of Mohammed two years ago, I was the publisher. It was the proudest moment of my public life. I would do it again today. In fact, I did do it again today. Though the Western Standard, sadly, no longer publishes a print edition, I posted the cartoons this morning on my website, ezralevant.com.
‘Heh, you think you’re going to drag an apology out of ME??!!?!?’
I am here at this government interrogation under protest. It is my position that the government has no legal or moral authority to interrogate me or anyone else for publishing these words and pictures. That is a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in this case, religious freedom and the separation of mosque and state. It is especially perverted that a bureaucracy calling itself the Alberta human rights commission would be the government agency violating my human rights. So I will now call those bureaucrats “the commission” or “the hrc”, since to call the commission a “human rights commission” is to destroy the meaning of those words.
Utilizing elementary logic, he de-legitimizes the very commission he is appearing at, by pointing out that the very existence of the body is a violation of human rights itself! I love it…
In 1948, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Canada is a party, declared that, quote:”Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights guaranteed, quote
“ human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely, freedom of religion; freedom of speech; freedom of assembly and association; and freedom of the press.
In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed, quote:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
Those were even called “fundamental freedoms” – to give them extra importance.
For a government bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a Universal Declaration of Rights, a Bill of Rights and a Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values.
It is also deeply procedurally one-sided and unjust. The complainant – in this case, a radical Muslim imam, who was trained at an officially anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, and who has called for sharia law to govern Canada – doesn’t have to pay a penny; Alberta taxpayers pay for the prosecution of the complaint against me. The victims of the complaints, like the Western Standard, have to pay for their own lawyers from their own pockets. Even if we win, we lose – the process has become the punishment. (At this point, I’d like to thank the magazine’s many donors who have given their own money to help us fight against the Saudi imam and his enablers in the Alberta government.)
I have no faith in this farcical commission. But I do have faith in the justice and good sense of my fellow Albertans and Canadians. I believe that the better they understand this case, the more shocked they will be. I am here under your compulsion to answer the commission’s questions. But it is not I who am on trial: it is the freedom of all Canadians.
Make sure to check back with Ezra’s blog for regular updates, including promised links to video footage of the entire hearing. And make sure to e-mail your political representatives and ask them to put a stop to these political speech persecutions.