The names Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant — two of my Canadian journalist friends — have recently become better known Stateside, thanks to prosecutions of their works before Canadian "human rights" tribunals. These are kangaroo courts that were established in Canada more than a generation ago, in the era of Pierre Trudeau, to adjudicate complaints of racial and other forms of discrimination in housing, employment, or wherever. The tribunals are now being used to censor national magazines and leading conservative journalists for imaginary hate crimes — such as writing openly about the demographic implications of Muslim immigration, or reprinting Danish cartoons to show readers what the fuss was about that led to riots and killings across the Muslim world. In both cases, the charges were brought by Islamist fanatics, claiming, quite ludicrously, to represent all Canadian Muslims.
At the time of writing, neither case is resolved, but given 100 percent conviction rates in similar previous cases, the defendants (Maclean’s magazine, in the case of Steyn) are already looking forward to the appeals stage in a proper court of law. Alas, the innumerable "little people" the tribunals have convicted in the past have seldom had the means to appeal. Most had been drained, psychically as well as financially, by the actions of the tribunals themselves.
From the beginning, persons of my ilk were opposed to these little Maoist star chambers. Nothing good could come of quasi-judicial tribunals in which there are no standards of evidence, no precedents or case law, indeed no statute law to which to refer; in which the truth is no defense, and none of the other traditional protections of the common law are granted to the accused. All expenses of the complainants are covered by the taxpayer, and the defendant is bled dry by the imperious, glacially slow operations of the Kafkaesque "human rights" bureaucracies. These are staffed almost entirely by radical Left activists, with no legal training. And as Canadian bloggers have documented, many of them are sadistic, and quite shamelessly corrupt (paying themselves a share of settlements, etc). Their tactics include planting offensive comments on rightwing Internet Web sites where they’ve been unable to find anything juicy enough for a "show trial."
Catholic and all other Christian readers in the States should know that the tribunals are currently working through a series of cases targeting people for expressing Christian religious and moral principles. For instance, an Alberta "human rights" commission recently convicted a Rev. Stephen Boisson of the "hate crime" of stating that homosexual acts are sinful — in a letter to the editor of a newspaper. He has been ordered to make a payout to the anti-Christian activist who prosecuted him, to make a public recantation of the views he still holds, and never to express them again publicly or privately for the duration of his life. (This is a typical "human rights" settlement up here.)
Catholic Insight, a monthly magazine published from Toronto, has also been hit by a complaint for upholding Church teaching on homosexuality, in a case designed to drive it out of business. The editor, Rev. Alphonse de Valk, who has been operating on a shoestring for many years, reports that he is so far out of pocket $20,000 in legal costs, which he will not be eligible to recover even if he wins the case.
These are direct challenges to freedom of the press, but they are part of a quickly growing and increasingly confident campaign by the tribunals to harass Christian institutions of any kind. In one case, for instance, the entire staff of Christian Horizons, an evangelical service agency with 2,500 employees nursing disabled adults in 180 homes, was ordered to submit to homosexual indoctrination after a single lesbian staff member was dismissed for violating the agency’s moral code.
The ultimate target will be churches and the Church itself. The failure of Canada’s Parliament (currently under a minority Conservative government) to act against the "human rights" bureaucracies — they fear being tarred by the Liberal opposition and media if they try — makes the escalation inevitable. We can safely predict that, very soon, Christian believers, including Catholic priests, will be going to jail in Canada for upholding the Christian faith. Indeed, we have already reached the point where it is necessary to bear witness to Christ, and to refuse the demands of the new ideological Caesar.
I beg American readers, who have the time, to familiarize themselves with our struggle for freedom in Canada, and to help us judiciously with contributions to legal defense funds and the like. Even more important: Take to heart what is happening on your very doorstep. For what is now being done to Canadian Christians could soon enough happen to you. The time to fight anti-Christian activists — embedding themselves in your legal system and government bureaucracies — is now, not later.
David Warren is a Canadian journalist who writes mostly on international affairs. His Web site is www.davidwarrenonline.com.