Friday, June 27, 2008

'Free at Last:' Canadian Human Rights Commission Dismisses Complaints Against Mark Steyn, Macleans Magazine

This Globe and Mail report will come as no surprise:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint against Maclean's magazine over a controversial article on the future of Islam, magazine officials said yesterday.

Meanwhile, a decision from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal over the same issue isn't expected for several months.

The Canadian Islamic Congress launched the dual complaints over an article by Maclean's journalist Mark Steyn. The article, The Future Belongs to Islam, came under fire by Muslim critics who claimed it spreads Islamophobia.

Earlier this month, closing arguments were made before B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal over the article, which appeared in Maclean's in October, 2006.

In dismissing the complaint, the Commission stated:

Overall, the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature as defined by the Supreme Court in the Taylor decision. Considering the purpose and scope of section 13 (1), and taking into account that an interpretation of s 13(1) must be consistent with the minimal impairment of free speech, there is no reasonable basis in the evidence to warrant the appointment of a Tribunal.

For these reasons, the complaint is dismissed.

The full text of the CHRC decision is now online: Canadian Islamic Congress v. Rogers Media Inc.

For more discussion of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the John Ross Taylor case referenced in the CHRC ruling, see our December 17, 2007 post, Mark Steyn, Macleans and Canadian Human Rights.

We've written much previously on this complaint, and have little to add to our original commentary, also of December 17, 2007:

For the record, then, let me state the obvious:

  • These are merely complaints, and have not yet been adjudicated;
  • Allegations such as these will not necessarily be substantiated through the complaint processes or at a hearing;
  • Our press also has broad freedoms and protection in Canada - these will weigh heavily in the balance of any tribunal determination of these complaints.
  • If the complaints are weak or frivolous, they are not likely to have any success at all. The complainants nonetheless have the right to be heard. That is how our judicial processes work and that too, is a freedom worth protecting.

For additional commentary on the fallout of this dismissal, see:

For what's it's worth, Mr Steyn assures his readers that victory notwithstanding, the campaign to restore free speech to Canada will continue, unabated.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Firm website: www.wiselaw.net

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