The Corner

Canadian Lifetime Speech Ban Lifted

A couple of years back, the Rev. Stephen Boissoin committed the crime of writing a letter to a local newspaper objecting to various aspects of “the homosexual agenda.” The Alberta “Human Rights” Tribunal convicted him of this crime and imposed a lifetime speech ban preventing him, in essence, from saying anything about homosexuality in public or private ever again anywhere for the rest of his life.

The Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta has now struck down this outrageous decision. Mr. Justice Wilson’s ruling could not be plainer. He rejects all the Tribunal’s punishments as “illegal,” not least the speech ban:

The direction to cease and desist the publishing of “disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals’ is beyond the power of the Panel. “Disparaging remarks”were not defined by the Panel. But clearly, “disparaging remarks” are remarks much less serious than hateful and contemptuous remarks and are quite lawful to make. They are beyond the power of the Act to regulate and the power of the Province to restrain.

Quite so. And how sad that an appeals court should have to point out something so obvious. The Reverend Boissoin has won a belated and costly victory over the ideological control-freaks of the Canadian thought police. On the broader questions, Mr. Justice Wilson is more reserved, pointing out correctly that these are matters for the legislature. Unfortunately, Canada’s political class are in no hurry to take it up. Nonetheless, the Court of Queen’s Bench decision (not to mention its reference to yours truly) would have been less likely before the campaign to restore freedom of speech up north. The cravenness of the politicians is depressing, but Ezra and I and a few others have helped to change the climate — and, for the moment, rendered these disgusting laws unenforceable.

As for America, you see in the recent push for “hate crimes” legislation how easily the same temptations apply here. 

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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