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Suppressing free speech is no laughing matter Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 16 February 2004

What mental gifts qualify someone to be Canada's Minister of Multiculturalism? First it was Hedy Fry. Now it's Jean Augustine.

Augustine is a standard-issue Toronto Liberal--former school principal, woman of colour, feminist, immigrant from Grenada, etc., elected in 1993 and now appointed to cabinet.

Her first notable pronouncement came a week ago in response to l'affaire Cherry, for his remark on CBC that face masks are worn mainly by Europeans and "French guys."

Although this simple statement of fact could easily have been confirmed with a call to the NHL, Cherry is now being investigated for "racism" by the Official Languages Commission.

"The government," said Augustine, "will not tolerate statements that create dissonance in our society and disrespect for others."

I assume she means any dissent from official policy. She wants uniformity of opinion.

Which, when you think of it, is an interesting attitude in a minister responsible for maintaining cultural differences.

However, as we all know, your right to "respect" these days depends entirely on the political status of your particular group.

For instance, if Cherry had said hockey face masks are popular only among Europeans and Americans, nobody would have blinked. Americans are not on the list of those entitled to respect.

That's why Sunera Thobani, head of a government-funded feminist group, could say after September 11, 2001, "The American nation that Bush is invoking is a people which is bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood. They don't care whose blood it is, they want blood." Nobody "investigated" her.

I'm not saying anyone should have. My point is that nobody did.

Similarly, Cherry could have said "Europeans and Christians," because (unlike Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Jews) Christians have no protective status.

Nobody "investigated the Governor-General's husband for writing in his recent book On Equilibrium, "Christians alone are responsible for the murder of six million Jews."

Nobody "investigated" former Immigration minister Elinor Caplan after she declared of the Alliance Party, "Their supporters are Holocaust deniers, prominent bigots and racists!" That was at an Ontario election warm-up for Paul Martin, who said not a word to correct her.

Nobody investigated former Multicult minister Hedy Fry for saying, "As we speak right now, crosses are burning on front lawns in Prince George, B.C."

On the other hand, Cherry could never have said anything even potentially disparaging of "gays" or "immigrants" or "women." This is because in Canada nobody may criticize any race (excepting whites), any gender (excepting males), any religion (excepting Christianity) or any sexual orientation (excepting the normal one).

That's why B.C. teacher Chris Kempling is not allowed to write a letter to his local newspaper mildly questioning the wisdom of encouraging homosexual behavior. It's why prison guard Hugh Owen is forbidden to publish anti-gay Bible citations in Saskatchewan. It's why praying unobtrusively outside most Canadian abortion facilities during business hours is an indictable criminal act.

It is all too easy to laugh off this ridiculous regime, but very wrong. We Canadians are not exempt from history, and history is peopled with tyrants who shut down reasoned free speech because the truth offends their corrupt sensibilities. The Third World today is full of tin-pot Jean Augustines and Hedy Frys and Elinor Caplans.

These demagogues may be ridiculous, but they are not funny. They are a menace to our most fundamental rights, and they must be relentlessly opposed.

- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.
"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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