The bizarre saga of Canada’s censorious human rights commissions took another freakish turn in September, when one of its own suddenly declared the very system that employed him “unconstitutional.”
Even longtime HRC critic (and victim-turned-victor) Ezra Levant was taken aback. As Levant put it at his blog when the news broke: “Two years ago, Athanasios Hadjis was a human rights hack, sitting on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal full of other hacks. He mindlessly rubber-stamped the censorship litigation oozing from the Canadian Human Rights Commission” and issued lifetime publications bans against hapless “thought criminals” for posting politically incorrect comments on obscure websites.
Yet that day, Levant reported, “Hadjis issued a 40,000-word ruling” in the “hate speech” case of Warman v. Lemire, “denouncing the Canadian Human Rights Commission, its aggressive style and its punitive powers.” Levant continued: “So two years after being a censor himself, Hadjis now calls censorship un-Canadian, un-constitutional and illegal. He says he will have nothing more to do with it and he will refuse to implement it. Wow.”
As someone who’s chronicled the HRCs ludicrous assaults on our liberty for a couple of years now, particularly in my book The Tyranny of Nice, I was as surprised as Levant was that a defector had appeared in its ranks.
However, I quickly grew depressed by the e-mails that poured into my inbox that day. Fellow free speech warriors reminded each other, quite rightly, that Hadjis was just a tribunal “judge” and not a real one – that obviously, only the Supreme Court could declare the HRCs and its pet law, Section 13, unconstitutional.
As usual, the online debate rapidly devolved into tedious discussions about the finer points of recent Canadian law and history. Meanwhile, Canadian human rights commissions and tribunals, while slightly wounded by one of their own, lived to tyrannize our fellow citizens another day.
Not being a lawyer myself (thank goodness), I’m not inclined to enter into such conversations. Instead, my online response to the Hadjis development was simply this: “For 20 years, the bad guys got to pretend that something was constitutional. For the next 20 years, we get to say it isn’t.”
Because the human rights commissions and tribunals were never “real” to begin with, arguing these finer points of the law simply accords them legitimacy to which they aren’t entitled.
I don’t just mean that Section 2 of the Charter grants all Canadians freedom of speech and almost any restriction on that freedom therefore does not merit my adherence.
I don’t just mean that the 1990 Taylor decision (in which a split Supreme Court declared it legitimate for the state to prosecute “evil” speech) was a case of “legislating from the bench” and that therefore, again, I’m not obliged to adhere to Section 13 either.
I mean that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is itself – to borrow back a locution Mark Steyn has since borrowed from me – “a worthless piece of crap.”
So, for those of us who treasure freedom of speech as a God-given right that depends not a whit upon what is or isn’t written on this or that piece of paper, or upon the latest trends in “progressive” thought, engagement in legalistic debates is not only a waste of time and energy, but dangerously counterproductive; in doing so, we merely grant further legitimacy to an illegitimate system.
When you accept your enemy’s premises, hoping to appear “moderate” and “reasonable” by nibbling away at them around the edges, you are part of the problem.
All this timid, paranoid, lawyerly “on the one hand, on the other hand” blather is exactly what got us into the situation in which we find ourselves. The only way out is to utterly shatter that liberal establishment mindset.
Therefore, let me assert my firm beliefs: the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired and crafted by geniuses the likes of which the world had never seen and will never see again; the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on the other hand, was cobbled together a few years ago by a bunch of mediocrities.
It. Doesn’t. Matter. What. It. Says.
The Charter has as much import and impact upon my life as the instruction manual that came with my microwave.
Had even one single person dragged before Canada’s human rights tribunals 10 or 20 years ago challenged their very legitimacy, rather than play by the rules, how many shattered lives might have been spared taxpayer-funded ruin?
We cannot merely hope to witness another defection by some unprincipled bureaucrat or careerist, wind-testing politician to grant us another petty victory. The time is long past for Canadians to continue to co-operate in any manner whatsoever with a system that is nakedly dedicated to intimidating us into silence.
Kathy Shaidle is co-author of The Tyranny of Nice: How Canada Crushes Freedom in the Name of Human Rights (and Why It Matters to Americans). She blogs daily at FiveFeetofFury.com.