With Friends Like These . . .

Monday Magazine | February 6, 2008
Esquimalt Juan-de Fuca Liberal MP Keith Martin received an unwanted endorsement last week from stormfront.org, the “white nationalist community” that operates under the motto “White Pride Worldwide.”

Canadian Association for Free Expression director and Stormfront member Paul Fromm threw his support behind Martin’s private member’s motion to repeal Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act which prohibits electronic communication of material that is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”

“The sordid Soviet style reign of terror by the Canadian Human Rights Commission is now out in the open,” wrote Fromm on Stormfront’s website. “The CHRC reign of thought control looks like a drying pool of vomit on the dirty floor of some dingy dive. Yes, it stinks and good men are beginning to speak up.”

The web posting requests visitors to pen letters to Canadian MPs, asking them to support Martin’s motion.

Martin, currently in Ottawa, is understandably disappointed the issue has roused the interest of fringe organizations like Stormfront, but stands by the tenets of his motion.

“Thankfully we live in a society where we have the legal right to be protected against hate crimes, slander and libel,” says Martin. “But we do not have the right not to feel offended.” And that’s exactly what Martin says Section 13(1) has become, a tool used by citizens who feel offended by certain opinions to seek protections not offered under the umbrella of the Canadian criminal code. So far, the CHRC has a 100 percent conviction rate in all cases pursued, says Martin.

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association executive director Murray Mollard has not seen the text of Martin’s motion, but says in principle the organization opposes any limits imposed by the state on citizens’ rights to express their ideas.

“What we have to respect is the right of citizens to share their ideas—not the values that underlie those ideas,” says Mollard. “It is useful to know who these people are that are fomenting hate, and the challenge for us is to remain vigilant—to denounce them and counter them when they arise.”

Among those on the receiving end of complaints filed with CHRC are Maclean’s Magazine columnist Mark Steyn and the administrators of Victoria’s own lefty activist website, the Peace, Earth and Justice News who evidently offended the sensibilities of the Jewish activists at B’nai Brith.

Martin says his motion is receiving strong support across party lines in parliament hill’s back rooms, but it remains to be seen whether MPs will offer public endorsement “fearful of drawing attention from groups with repugnant views.”

Not exactly the kind of publicity a politician needs when the federal election machine is starting to rumble to life.

Monday Magazine

Founded in 1975 to provide a critical voice in Victoria's political and cultural communities, Monday Magazine continues to shake British Columbia's conservative capital city with tell-it- like-it-is features and reviews. Targeting educated, active adults and Victoria's growing youth market, Monday...
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