Van. Province Article

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Campbell should finish the job and axe the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal
 
John Martin
Special to The Province
Shortly after forming government, Gordon Campbell made one of his gutsiest moves to date –not that there’s a trophy case full of them.He abolished the B.C. Human Rights Commission, knowing full well he would be unjustly accused by hysterical zealots of rolling back human rights.

The commission had become an expensive farce dedicated to promoting political correctness and demonizing independent thinkers who didn’t bow to liberal orthodoxy.

Still, he should have gone a step further and terminated the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal as well.

The commission was bad enough espousing partisan propaganda. But the tribunal was also out of control with its kangaroo-court shenanigans.

And now the tribunal has entered its most shameful phase by agreeing to hear a complaint brought forward against Maclean’s magazine.

The Canadian Islamic Congress alleges Muslims were subjected to hatred and contempt due to a 2006 article that quoted from writer Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone — The End Of The World As We Know It.

By agreeing to hear the case, the tribunal has positioned itself as the arbiter in charge of deciding what the

Canadian media may publish and what the rest of us are permitted to read.

If the article and book in question do indeed constitute hate speech — which they don’t — there is legitimate recourse.

The complainants could have gone to the police with allegations of a hate crime.

But prosecuting someone in the criminal justice system is governed by the rule of law. This includes the presumption of innocence, the need to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and due process — much unlike the tribunal’s inquisitions.

Failing that, a civil suit could have been filed against Maclean’s and Steyn.

But then the complainants would have to hire their own lawyer. And if the allegation was deemed frivolous, as would surely be the case, they would be liable for the respondents’ legal costs.

These tribunals were formed to address discrimination in housing and employment.

With our guard down, somehow we allowed them to assume the role of state censor and thought police.

It is an abomination that a star chamber is allowed to function in this day and age.

In an era where freedom of the press and free speech are heralded as cornerstones of democratic society, there is no earthly reason to authorize the tribunal to determine what words are acceptable.

How they end up ruling on the case is not important. That we have given them the power to decide what a magazine is allowed to publish is the frightening issue.

The B.C. government can finish what it started and commence pulling the plug on the tribunal tomorrow.

To do otherwise would be grossly negligent.

Contact criminologist John Martin of the University College of the Fraser Valley at John.Martin@ucfv.ca

© The Vancouver Province 2008

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