On Monday, Ann Coulter half-jokingly told a boisterous crowd at the University of Western Ontario that she was a victim of a “hate crime” in Canada. Here’s the funny thing: She’s not completely wrong.
Miss Coulter is currently on a small speaking tour in Canada. The Claire Boothe Luce Policy Institute is reportedly covering the balance of her appearances, and Canadian author Ezra Levant is introducing her at each stop.
One of the cities Miss Coulter was going to visit was Ottawa. But just before her arrival on Tuesday, she received an e-mail from Francois Houle, academic vice president and provost of the University of Ottawa. Mr. Houle, if you can believe it, wrote this, “Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression [or ‘free speech’] in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.”
The ivory tower academic didn’t stop his rant there. He added this for good measure: “Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.”
Wow. That’s quite the way to roll out the red carpet, don’t you think?
Anyway, Miss Coulter decided to have some fun. She said, “I’m sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it. I think I’m the victim of a hate crime here. Either what he did was a hate crime, or the whole commission is B.S.”
What’s a Human Right Commission? Originally, they helped provide government lawyers – free of charge – for poor Canadians, who in turn used them to fight landlords and employers they felt were infringing on their civil rights. But that was then. Today, the commissions have been usurped by the Canadian left and are nothing more than kangaroo courts used to sue political opponents and institutions.
In a strange twist, this is the legal plaything that made life miserable for Mr. Levant. In 2006, when he was the publisher of a conservative magazine, the Western Standard, he decided to reprint the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. After a heated radio interview on this subject with Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Council of Canada, the latter launched a human rights complaint in Alberta after failing to get Mr. Levant arrested.
Mr. Levant was understandably furious. He viewed it as an attack on his right to free speech as well as his journalistic integrity. So, he videotaped his entire Human Rights Commission hearing, posted clips on YouTube, and the issue exploded in the Canadian media and beyond. It became painfully obvious that Canadian human rights commissions were not about human rights, but were rather vehicles of an extreme left-wing agenda against an individual’s basic rights and freedoms. Mr. Soharwardy later dropped the complaint.
Unfortunately, this was further proof that, unlike Americans, many of my fellow Canadians don’t respect the important principle of freedom of speech. Hence, I think Miss Coulter’s musing about filing a human rights complaint isn’t so far-fetched – and would be a good shot in the arm for free speech up north.
First, as Mr. Levant told the National Post, it wouldn’t be an “outlandish” strategy. In an important 1985 Supreme Court of Canada case, Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, foreign nationals are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Even though Miss Coulter isn’t a Canadian citizen, her rights are protected under Canadian law.
Second, if Miss Coulter decides to file a complaint against Mr. Houle, it will force the Human Rights Commission to look into this matter and make a ruling. Or, the commission could dismiss it entirely and look rather foolish in the process. Either way, Miss Coulter comes up ahead.
For the record, I’m not a huge fan of Miss Coulter’s work. Yet there’s no doubt in my mind that under the cockeyed laws of my land, she has a point. From one free-speech defender to another, I say this: Ann, sue the pants off of him.
Michael Taube, a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.