How is this for irony? Recent actions by Canadian human rights groups have observers alarmed for the state of human rights in Canada. That is because the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal do not give a fig about protecting human rights. Their mission is suppressing free speech.
Maclean's magazine was hauled before these two "quasi-judicial" bodies when it published excerpts from Mark Steyn's popular book America Alone. Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress charged that the content of these excerpts about the expansion of radical Islam "subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt."
The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the complaint, but the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal got in on the act. It investigated the charges in what bloggers on the scene called a "kangaroo court," and has yet to issue a ruling. But there is a greater cause for concern here: As the Calgary Herald pointed out, Maclean's has the money to fight the charges—but not everyone does. The Herald gloomily predicted, "Let a citizen of modest means utter a politically incorrect thought: He will be crushed."
That is what happened to the Reverend Stephen Boissoin. In a letter to the editor in the Red Deer Advocate, he protested the homosexual agenda, and was hauled off before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The complaint—sound familiar?—was that Boissoin's words were "likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt because of their sexual orientation."
The panel ordered "that Mr. Boissoin . . . shall cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches, or in the internet, in the future, any disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals." He was also ordered to apologize in writing for the article, and was fined.
As the Catholic Exchange reports, "In essence, the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal is ordering . . . the minister to renounce his Christian faith, since his opposition to homosexuality is based upon the Judeo-Christian Bible." The article went on to observe that a prominent Canadian priest, Father Alphonse de Valk, is now being investigated "for having publicly defended the Church's traditional definition of marriage. Some of [his] allegedly hateful statements are quotations from the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church."
This is what Pope Benedict calls the "dictatorship of relativism." In the name of tolerance—or of someone's twisted idea of that concept—we have to protect everyone's sensitivities. Nobody can say anything that might make someone feel like a victim of hatred and contempt. And thus we back into a soft despotism, which suppresses free speech and eradicates religious freedom.
Where is this going to end? Will it become a crime even to be a Christian in Canada? Will opposition to radical Islam be routinely punished? Here in America, we already know you can get in hot water for opposing gay marriage—like the Christian photographers who refused to take pictures at a lesbian civil ceremony, and ended up being fined by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.
Make no mistake. If Canadians do not stand up for their religious and free speech rights, they will soon be gone. And so will ours. For what happens in the beautiful country to the north of us often affects our so-called "enlightened elites" in the United States.