If there’s any doubt that free speech in Canada is dead, this story removes it:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) kept its head down during the recent federal election. With no less than four ongoing investigations into its conduct, it wisely stayed beneath the radar. But with the election over, it’s back at it, with its most egregious violation of our civil rights yet.
In Saskatchewan, the CHRC is prosecuting a former Member of Parliament for politically incorrect mail that he sent to constituents five years ago.
Jim Pankiw, an MP who served from 1997 to 2004, is on trial for sending out flyers criticizing Indian crime in Saskatchewan. If convicted, Pankiw can face massive fines. He could also face other orders, ranging from a forced apology to a lifetime ban on commenting about aboriginal issues. If Pankiw refuses to comply with such an order, he could serve time in jail.
Aboriginal crime was a big issue for Pankiw’s constituents. According to Statistics Canada, aboriginals make up only 9% of Saskatchewan’s population, but they are 52% of the province’s criminally accused.
Pankiw wanted to get tough on crime; he wanted to abandon aboriginal “sentencing circles,” and end racial quotas. His tone was aggressive, but talking tough about crime isn’t supposed to be a crime in itself. Whether or not his was the best solution was up to his constituents. That’s how a democracy works.
The Canadian kangaroo courts have prosecuted clergy for their sermons, periodicals for their content, and now a member of parliament for political communications. I don’t understand why Canadians aren’t upset about this. Is there no constituency for free speech in Canada?
POSTSCRIPT: Good thing nothing like this could ever happen here.