Humor is one of Canada’s most important exported cultural commodities: Canadians are proud of Mike Meyers, Leslie Nielsen, and, of course, the late, great John Candy. Recognizing humor, like hockey, is a Canadian value shared from coast to coast, it is strange to see the fury with which the federal Liberal party has descended on a previously unnoticed Paul Martin parody website.
Threatening to sue the creators just before Christmas, the Liberal-party lawyers claim this satirical website chronicling Paul Martin corruption has stolen the Liberal party’s personal intellectual property.
Liberals should be aware that satire is one of the oldest forms of criticizing government policy. The nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” is actually coded criticism, when tyranny not freedom was the norm: “all the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.”
With the Paul Martin Liberals suing independent satire websites, Canadians can only now wonder who will be next. By pointing out Liberal corruption in a mocking sort of way, will Canada’s popular comedic icon Marg Delahunty (alias “Marg the Warrior Princess“) end up next on the Liberal party’s chopping block?
One of the independent webmasters explained his “shock” that a Liberal staff member who initially contacted him had such a “natural grasp of intimidation tactics,” using “subtle name-drops indicating the power of the Liberal party to crush us and not think twice.”
The most infuriating thing to the Liberal party is likely this independent website’s name: www.paulmartintime.ca is a little too close for comfort to Paul Martin’s personal website.
Still, all political parties, including conservatives have satirical and critical websites dedicated to them. Conservatives rarely complain about them, let alone dream of suing over satire. Proving not only that conservatives believe in freedom of speech but that they also have a better sense of humor then Paul Martin Liberals.
That is what the Internet and freedom of speech is about. To paraphrase Voltaire: I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.
Grumpiness and lack of respect for freedom of speech is not the only thing Paul Martin Liberals are exhibiting. In stooping to sue, Paul Martin shows his petty and vindictive side. Paul Martin scared off Liberal leadership contenders last year, and for the new year it would seem he is moving onto silence third-party criticism.
The Liberal party has undergone a disturbing shift towards political correctness and censorship of criticism. In best-selling Toronto author Irshad Manji’s recent year-end Time Canada editorial, she recognized Canada’s classical small-l liberal tradition as accepting “contradiction, tension and negotiation.” In the same editorial, she pointed out the current Liberal regime has become, “calcified into a smug orthodoxy, undermining the very gift that liberals have given Canada.”
This is a political shift Canadian conservatives have long been aware of. Conservatives support smaller government, lower taxes, as well as freedom of speech while the Liberal party supports what is increasingly becoming a dogmatic, one-party-state (secular) theocracy.
To appease the Liberal party, the independent web designers have made some changes, but they were informed that it wasn’t enough. If the Liberals’ lawsuit against independent media is successful, forthright criticism of government will increasingly be pushed underground.
Entreating the question: Does Prime Minister Martin have a Humpty Dumpty complex? And if Paul Martin falls, will the Liberal party be able to put the pieces together again?
Cut out the humor Canada, Paul Martin is prime minister now.
–Rob Anders is the Conservative member of the Canadian parliament for Calgary West.