Finley, Tkachuk, Duffy, Wallin stand up for freedom of speech
Several Conservative Senators have arrived late to the battle to reform Canada's Human Rights Commissions, but they have arrived all the same.
Partially in response to a controversial letter written by University of Ottawa provost Francois Houle to Ann Coulter in advance of a planned speech there (which was cancelled just minutes prior to its scheduled start), Senators Doug Finley, David Tkachuk, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy have begun to speak out against the censorious labours of Canada's human rights regime.
The four have begun to lead a Senate inquiry into freedom of speech in Canada -- drawing long-overdue Parliamentary attention to the excesses of Canada's Human Rights Commissions.
"Despite our 400-year tradition of free speech, the tyrannical instinct to censor still exists," Finley announced. "We saw it on a university campus last week. And we see it every week in Canada's misleadingly named human rights commissions."
"Too many Canadians, especially those in positions of authority, have replaced the real human right of freedom of speech with a counterfeit human right to not be offended," he continued.
Tkatchuk blamed Houle not only for the letter to Coulter, but also for the mob mentality of the protesters who eventually managed to shut her event down.
"The mob took its cue from the provost," Tkachuk said, and noted (in not-so-charitable language) that Houle's letter was a little extreme. "The letter closed with a line that could have come straight out of the re-education camps of Pol Pot's Cambodia."
Mike Duffy noted that, in cases like those pursued against Ezra Levant and Macl
eans Magazine, the Human Rights Commissions have clearly overstepped their authority, both actual and intended.
"Prosecuting the actions of journalists was clearly not the intention of Parliament when it passed hate speech laws," he noted.
Finley stated that the intention of the inquiry was to draw Parliament's attention to the excesses of the human rights commissions. Even if the inquiry results in no more than that, it has already been successful.
"If we can rededicate our parliament to protecting this most important right, we will have done our country a great service," Finley announced. "But if we fail to stop and indeed reverse this erosion of freedom, we will have failed our most basic duty — the duty to uphold our Constitution and the rights it guarantees for all Canadians."
"In a pluralistic society like Canada, we must protect our right to peacefully disagree with each other," Finley concluded. "We must allow a diversity of opinion — even if we find some opinions offensive," Finley said. "Unless someone actually counsels violence or other crimes, we must never use the law to silence them."
Doug Finley has clearly found the right cause to fight for on Parliament Hill. The battle to reform Canada's Human Rights Commissions will not be won easily -- nor should it be fought quietly.