Throwback Thursday: Stand Up for Freedom Campaign Launched Across the Country
Over the summer, ARPA Canada will be re-posting an old blog or article each Thursday. We hope that you enjoy these blasts from the past as we re-live some of the major content, issues, and campaigns of ARPA’s past 15 years.
This article chronicles the launch of a grassroots initiative right before Remembrance Day in 2010, a campaign aimed at trying to abolish provincial human rights commissions. For a further explanation of the flaws of human rights commissions in Canada, check out last week’s Throwback Thursday article on the Hijacking of Human Rights. One of the leaders of this campaign quoted in this article, Neil Dykstra, passed away last year.
As Canada prepares to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom, a grassroots campaign has been launched today to protect this freedom from an unlikely source; our country’s human rights commission and tribunals.
“As strange as it might sound, it’s in the very name of human rights that our fundamental freedoms are being challenged,” explained Neil Dykstra, the campaign’s spokesperson. “These quasi-judicial bodies have wandered far from their original mandate. They hold up fabricated “rights” and use these to undermine the freedoms that we easily take for granted, including freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly and association.”
The campaign was kicked off with seven events in BC and Ontario in the past few weeks and is now reaching all Canadians through a action-oriented website www.HumanRightsCommissions.ca. The site features brand new technology through which readers can send customized letters straight to their MP about the issue in a matter of seconds. It also provides petitions, sample letters, and talking points for meeting with elected officials. The site even includes a video interview with one MP who sits on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, calling on Canadians to contact their MP’s about the commissions.
“We know that there is broad-based support among politicians to reform or even remove these commissions and tribunals” explained Neil Dykstra. “Just last week Saskatchewan announced its plans to reform their human rights code and dissolve their human rights tribunal. BC is also considering disbanding its Tribunal and sending complaints to a dedicated employment tribunal. These are positive developments that must continue across the country. It will take grassroots action to achieve this and our hope is that this campaign will be a catalyst for spurring every-day Canadians to stand up for our fundamental freedoms.”
The commissions and tribunals attracted significant attention in the past few years because of several high-profile complaints, including one against Maclean’s newsmagazine about an article on Islam that was an excerpt from a Mark Steyn book, and another complaint against Ezra Levant and the Western Standard for republishing the infamous Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. Not quite as well known, the commissions and tribunals have been taking on dozens of other complaints in which pastors, business persons, charities, and corporations have been found guilty of offending people and sentenced to forced apologies, re-education, fines, speech bans, and huge legal bills.
Parliament began an investigation into the conduct of the Canadian Human Rights Commission last year. Numerous political leaders and media outlets have come out criticizing the commissions and tribunals but as of yet few reforms or changes have been made. Even a commission-initiated investigation concluded that significant reforms were necessary, only to be ignored by the commission that paid for the review.
Some of the problems highlighted on the campaign website include:
- The Tribunals do not have to abide by the long-standing rules of justice that are the norm in our court system. The due process of law is ignored, evidence can be based on hear-say, and hurt feelings are enough to find someone guilty of inciting hatred. Regular legal defences of truth, fair comment, and lack of intent to harm don’t apply in the HRT’s.
- With this kind of criteria, it isn’t too much of a surprise that for 32 years the Canadian Human Rights Commission had a 100% conviction rate for all Section 13 cases it brought before the Tribunal. That finally ended when Section 13 was declared unconstitutional by the federal Tribunal in 2009.
- The HRC complaint process has itself become a favourite tool of activists to silence and bankrupt their political enemies. If a case is accepted, complainants do not have to pay any costs, even if they lose the case. On the other hand, defendants must cover all of their own legal expenses, even if they win. Simply being brought before a HRC is a significant penalty.
- Human Rights Commissions have actively sought complaints of borderline legitimacy in order to increase its workload. CHRC staff have also stated that they post their own online comments on anti-Semitic and racist forums to find and entrap others.
- The Commissions actively lobby parliament to create more civil rights that further restrict our fundamental rights. Some have even gone so far as to use their policy-making powers to “read in” new rights into the provincial human rights codes.
- The Commissions have more investigative powers than the police. The Commissions have no procedures or safeguards to ensure that their investigations are carried out in a proper and ethical manner.
- There is no complaint mechanism by which the Commission and its staff can be held to account. In the face of widespread public criticism, the Canadian HRC hand-picked their own expert and paid him $50,000 to review their practices. This back-fired when the investigator himself concluded that the censorship powers of the CHRC had to be removed. The CHRC has ignored this report and now continues its censorship unabated.
“We urge Canadians to check out the website, use the simple email program on it, and share it with their families, friends, and co-workers” stated Dykstra. “When enough people stand up for freedom it will be a political liability not to act.”
Click here to listen to campaign spokesperson Neil Dykstra explain the campaign on Vancouver’s top talk radio station CKNW.
Update and Note: The campaign has been featured (entire article) in about 14 large papers on Friday/Saturday including the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, London FreePress, Canoe.ca, Sudbury Star, Winnipeg Sun, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Vancouver 24hrs: Freedom under attack in the name of human rights: group. These articles incorrectly state that we are a “lobby group.” This is a grassroots initiative, directed toward grassroots Canadians.