Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Black Eye for the Human Rights Commission

Time for some accountability at the CHRC

A controversy quietly bubbling amongst denizens of the Canadian Blogosphere has finally exploded into the mainstream media, as the Globe and Mail yesterday reported on some of the shifty "covert ops" being carried out by investigators for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Last month, Dean Steacy testified that he signed up an account on Stormfront, a white supremacist website, under the alias "Jadewarr".

"It a short form for 'Jade Warrior' from a novel I read as a teenager," he explained.

Bell Canada was subpoenaed for the identity of the individual to whom the IP address was linked. It produced the name of Ottawa resident Nelle Hechme, and provided her phone number and home address at the hearing.

As it turns out, Hechme has had nothing to do with either Stormfront or Dean Steacy. Thus, the proverbial shit has hit the not-so-proverbial fan for the CHRC, raising some important questions about how these Commissions operate, and why there is so little accountability in the system.

Some may recognize the name Dean Steacy. He was the one who insisted "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."

This despite the fact that "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication" is Constitutionally entrenched via the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. One would think that an investigator for the Human Rights Commission would be familiar with the fundamental document upon which these commissions are founded.

It seems that Steacy tapped Nelle Hechme's WiFi internet connection. Hechme lives a short distance from the CHRC office.

As such, not only did Mr Steacy violate Hechme's privacy and essentially engage in property theft, he also committed WiFi piracy -- yet another illegal act.

Of course, such liberal twisting of proper legal procedures -- to pose it euphemistically at best -- has turned out to be fairly typical of the CHRC. A document revealing that CHRC investigators were themselves registered on the site was reportedly removed from the official record, and an identical copy (with the notable alteration of the "welcome Jadewarr" removed).

All of this to get at Marc Lemire, an individual who almost certainly is guilty of disseminating hate speech, and should be dealt with. Unfortunately, the CHRC's own lack of accountability and we're-above-the-law attitude has utterly undermined their efforts and reputation.

Of course, some people are using what is -- quite frankly -- Nelle Hechme's victimization at the hands of unscrupulous Canadian Human Rights Commission Investigators as proof that these commissions need to be abolished.

Little could be further from the truth. The truth is that Canada's Human Rights Commissions serve a valuable purpose to Canadian Society.

But they simply cannot be allowed to continue as they have operated. It's time to divorce these organizations from the Star Chamber Rules by which they have operated, and make them operate according to modern legal principles -- including all applicable rules of evidence.

It's time to transform these institutions from convenient weapons in the hands of litigious witch hunters into proper legal commissions worthy of the name. The work they do is important, but it's time for Canadian society to stop sacrificing our legal principles in order to allow them to pervert the important purpose these commissions fulfill.

These commissions were never intended to become tools of censorship -- they were intended to be tools of redress for when Human Rights have actually been violated.

It's time to clean up the CHRC. Canadian society will be all the better off for it.

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