Friday, December 4, 2009

Stephen Boissoin - Free Speech Hero

Another One Bites The Dust

From my time speaking with Stephen, and getting to know him, I am pretty sure that being a Free Speech Hero is not high on his to do list, even though he is getting a check mark there. All Stephen told me he wants to do is help young people, including his own children come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and for them to be free of sin, sickness and disease; a tall order true, but even taller if you are prevented or prohibited from working at it.

He did not contemplate a 7 year battle with the GOVERNMENT over his rights to express personal opinions about the state of the education system, particularly against some thin skinned guy who was not even an aggrieved party. He surely never saw that coming when he wrote THE LETTER.

He certainly did not expect to see much of his work with youth over the years stopped because of the inability to both fight this battle and serve the youth. So, in the end he wins, kinda, but as Ezra Levant says "The process is the punishment".

Darren Lund may not have to carry the financial burden of his malicious persecution of Stephen Boissoin, though that will come before Justice Wilson separately soon. However, he will be accountable to a higher power than himself one day, and in that fight I don't hold out much hope for his chances currently. Funny thing is Stephen Boissoin is in his court on that one, praying for him. That's the thing with committed Christians like Stephen. They take praying for their detractors seriously.

Colby Cosh over at must have gotten up pretty early this morning to get his piece on the Internet before most of the MSM decide if they are on or off the bandwagon. Of course, I had posted last night as did a few others in the blogiverse.

Mr. Cosh has some interesting insights into this Judgment in the Boissoin case, summed up as follows:
  1. The Charter of Rights can’t be used willy-nilly by content creators in magazines and newspapers as a shield against tribunal oversight, but
  2. The tribunals have to confine themselves strictly to the powers granted them by statute, defer to Charter values, respect the presumption of innocence, and in general act a lot less like a cross between a military junta and a three-ring circus.
The difficulty that I have with Justice Wilson's judgment is not the wisdom of his ruling particularly, though I did say a few things earlier, but about the possibility that the people he was chastising for their high handedness will get it, and realise that this time it is about them, and not about the poor blokes that they are pursuing in their militant attempts to purge the world of anything that is not politically correct.

One thing, of course that worked in Stephen Boissoin's favour in the real court is that the Judge here looked up from his blotter and noticed that in the last 7 years, there was no evidence that Stephen's Letter had increased animus towards homosexuals, and had made the world a less safe place for them. In reality, which is a place not typically inhabited by the Human Rights Tribunals/Commissions of this country, he even questioned the veracity of the witnesses that Dr. Lund had presented in his case against Stephen in thinking that what they had presented as evidence was pertinent to the case at the Panel in the first place, or even true for that matter. He went so far as to opine that attempting to blame Stephen for an alleged attack, on an unknown, possibly gay, young person who might have been afraid because of The Letter did not seem to be much in the way of evidence. Who was that masked man, and was there even a masked man? And he commented that though the Panel looked at the negative comments that came in response to THE LETTER in the Red Deer advocate, they didn't bother to give any credence to those that supported Stephen's position. He seemed to think that that might not have been fair game.

Justice Wilson also had an opinion on THE LETTER itself, where he ran a string of adjectives by in his judgment that did not favourably compare the letter to a papal encyclical. But, I tend to think that he could have saved that august descriptive list for a comment on Ms. Andreachuk's Panel Decision.

Mr. Cosh summarised Justice Wilson's learned opinion on expert witnesses at Kangaroo Kourt as follows:
Wilson has thus made expert evidence in future tribunal proceedings a lot harder to come by: the logic of his decision suggests that complainants will no longer be able to round up every bleeding-heart social scientist or self-styled hate expert they can find, but will have to provide evidence of potential economic impacts from hate speech.
In his penultimate paragraph, Mr. Cosh summarises quite well, I think, why it is a good thing that judicial review exists in Alberta for Kangaroo Kourt decisions, what the oft quoted Taylor Decision means for hate speech, including the dissent opinions, and that the Kangaroo Kourt had no jurisdiction to levy the penalties they did. Hopefully Ms. Adreachuk takes note, as do her bosses. In his words:
Wilson also reaffirmed that the standard of judicial review for Alberta tribunal rulings is a low one, requiring the appellant to raise questions of mere “correctness” in matters of law; he beat up the panel for some of its one-sided interpretations of the evidence against Boissoin; he emphasized that hate speech isn’t hate speech under Taylor unless it’s “unusually strong” and appeals to “deep-felt” emotions; he notes that tribunals must take note of not only the majority decision in Taylor, but also not-yet-Chief Justice McLachlin’s monumental dissent warning against vagueness and subjectivity; he observes that Taylor also requires hate speech to have been repetitive; he suggests that the law does not generally concern itself with “puny anonymities”, but only with speech that is likely to be influential and dangerous in some way; and he notes that the AHRCC panel had no statutory warrant for any of the punishments it levied on Boissoin.
Too bad, legislation like Alberta HRCM Act S. 3(1) and S. 3(2) continues to exist, but you can't win them all. So, a victory yes. A complete victory no.