Just a few quick notes on B'nai Brith's presentation to Richard Moon, the University of Windsor law professor who was appointed to make recommendations as to the direction the CHRC should take re Internet Hate Speech in Canada.
First, the good. B'nai Brith's practical recommendations are, for the most part, common-sense. For example, it does not seem fair that complaints can be pursued in multiple jurisdictions. As BB writes:
The ability to make several complaints at once in different jurisdictions against the same target means that the complaint power can be used as a way of harassing the object of the complaint. That avenue of harassment needs to be cut off. Complaints should be heard in one forum only. The appropriate forum should be the one with the most substantial connection to the complaint and the parties. No other jurisdiction should have the power to entertain essentially the same complaint.
Perhaps the question of awarding costs to successful defendants is a little more problematic , esp. in light of the Maclean's Magazine case where the refusal to negotiate with complainants, and the legal costs resulting from this refusal, can largely be seen as a stunt, a desperate attempt to bump up sales by embracing cheap controversy and pandering to Canada's far right fringe. Here and elsewhere, where the out-sized sums spent on defending a complaint amount to a kind of business investment on the part of the defendant, should such behavior be rewarded?
However, where I think the B'nai Brith report really disappoints is in the way it draws analogies between the complainants in the Macleans and Western Standard cases and some world-wild conspiracy on the part of "Political Islam"... the way it swallows the Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant koolaid, in other words.
Put briefly (and to give just a single example), whatever the ultimate strength of his case against the Western Standard, there is no question in my mind that Syed Soharwardy was correct when he wrote that the Western Standard "mis-used the Freedom of the press to create hatred against Canadian Muslims", and that his complaint was a response to this and not a move within some vast international conspiracy by Islamic militants.
And I think B'nai Brith Council David Matas, who wrote their presentation to Dr. Moon, probably should have made himself aware of the context around and fallout from Mr. Soharwardy's complaint, which included calls for Muslim Genocide on the Western Standard Blog, and generated a police investigation as well as eventual apologies from the WS editors. I realize that it would have been unpleasant for Mr. Matas to stick his head down that particular sewer, but I think it would have made him a little more aware of what was really at stake.
Read the entire report here.