July 23, 2015

I'm being prosecuted for calling human rights commissions “crazy”

Rebel Staff
 

Here we go again. This October I will be prosecuted for one charge of being “publicly discourteous or disrespectful to a Commissioner or Tribunal Chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission” and two charges that my “public comments regarding the Alberta Human Rights Commission were inappropriate and unbecoming and that such conduct is deserving of sanction.”

Because last year I wrote a newspaper editorial calling Alberta’s human rights commission “crazy”.

Have you ever heard of a journalist being prosecuted for being disrespectful towards a government agency? A journalist in Canada, that is — not in China or Russia.

I’ve been through something like this before. In February of 2006, I was the publisher of the Western Standard magazine. We ran a news story on the Danish cartoons of Mohammed and the deadly Muslim riots that followed. Being a news magazine, we included photos of the cartoons to show the central element of the story.

Muslim activists filed “hate speech” complaints against the magazine, and me personally, for reporting this legitimate news story. What followed was straight out of Kafka: a 900-day investigation by no fewer than 15 government bureaucrats and lawyers for the thought crime of publishing news “likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt.” Truth was not a defence; journalism was not a defence. The commission had invented a counterfeit human right not to be offended.

I spent $100,000 on legal fees before the commission dropped the charges against me — because they were taking such a beating in the media. Even the provincial cabinet minister in charge of the commission at the time, the Hon. Lindsay Blackett, told reporters the commission had become a “kangaroo court”. I guess he’s allowed to say that, but I’m not.

Over time human rights commissions have gotten much more scrutiny, and the federal human rights commission even had its censorship powers repealed by Parliament. But last year, Alberta’s commission stumbled back in the news. A Czech immigrant had failed the provincial engineering exam three times, so he complained to the commission that the exam was “discriminatory”. In a shocking ruling, they agreed and ordered Alberta’s engineering profession to lower their standards and pay the complainer $10,000.

I have an opinion about that. I think it’s... crazy. You may have the same opinion and, if you’re not a lawyer, you’re allowed to express it. I expressed it anyway. After all, I was a journalist and hadn’t practiced law in many years. My job was to express my opinion. Sun News hired me, as a journalist, to do exactly that.

This time the commission didn’t come for me. But one of their prosecutors did. Arman Chak filed a complaint to the Law Society of Alberta about my column. Even though I haven’t practiced law in years, I’m still a lawyer. That was his angle.

At first, the Law Society dismissed his complaint without even a hearing, as they do with other nuisance complaints filed against me over the years by my political opponents. It would be unprecedented to prosecute a journalist for having the wrong opinions about a government agency.

Alberta benchers aren’t always so fastidious about courtesy. Earlier this year Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s lawyer, stood outside the Edmonton court house, blaming Khadr’s legal situation on the legal system’s anti-Muslim “bigotry". But like Chak, Edney is a law society bencher himself. He is not being prosecuted. Nor should he be — we need passionate lawyers, zealously advocating for their clients, even if they’re sometimes prickly.

To my knowledge the decision to prosecute me is unprecedented. Unlike Edney and his court-house remarks, I’m not even a practicing lawyer. I’m a journalist who happens to be trained in the law. There are tens of thousands of inactive lawyers like me in Canada. They include politicians like Peter MacKay and Thomas Mulcair. Sometimes these politician-lawyers are polite. Sometimes they aren’t. Two years ago, my fellow member of the Law Society of Alberta, an opposition politician named Rachel Notley, compared the Alberta Energy Regulator to a “banana republic”. It’s a quasi-judicial tribunal, like the human rights commission. But it’s unthinkable that the Law Society would have prosecuted her for being “discourteous” to a government agency. Because we live in a democracy and value public debate.

Well, I do too. And I’m going to keep calling the human rights commission “crazy” for the rest of my life.

And the fact is that their old prosecutor is still trying to get me — that is a bit crazy, isn’t it?

Please help me cover the cost of defending against this prosecution. I estimate it will cost me $25,000 in legal fees.

I’d be very grateful if you could help me, by making a secure DONATION via PayPal at StandWithEzra.ca

Thanks to all of your for your generous support!

PS:

If you'd rather donate the "old fashioned" way, please make your cheque payable to "Dentons Canada LLP in Trust”, and write "Ezra Levant defence fund” in the memo line. Please mail it to:

Dentons Canada LLP
850 - 2nd Street S.W.
15th Floor, Bankers Court
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 0R8

Comments
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commented 2016-05-23 23:35:17 -0400
“Will you help me cover my bills?”

The real reason for this whole video.
commented 2015-09-18 19:21:18 -0400
Ezra is guaranteed free speech in the charter section 2.b “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”. This is a slam dunk case for Ezra I would think. The people who are taking Ezra to court are like medieval religious inquisitors bent on suppressing free speech.
commented 2015-07-28 14:44:41 -0400
My final thought (hopefully). One way to assure the public you are not crazy is by taking someone to court for calling you crazy. In short if you do not want someone to think you are a petty vindictive power abuser then avoid doing petty vindictive abusive things. I like the quote I heard once. If at some point you find yourself in a deep dakr hole the way to get out is to stop digging. It was said better than I said said it but you get the point.
commented 2015-07-27 18:45:22 -0400
Now the “Human Rights” tribunals are the ones persecuting Ezra . The very people who are supposed to uphold our rights are now prosecuting and persecuting those who speak out . Keep on being truthful Ezra !
commented 2015-07-27 16:38:32 -0400
As per troll defence tactic, you choose to entirely miss the point.
Back to topic? I am looking forward to seeing this Arman Chak eat crow.
commented 2015-07-27 15:49:43 -0400
Liza,

If I offend you so much – then maybe it would be best if you just ignored me and focused on posts that say the kind of shit you want to hear. Erin gets it – you don’t.

I do express my opinion in an intelligent way with a sarcastic sense of humor – just like I pointed out about Jon Stewart. The problem is that it’s an opinion you don’t want to hear and well you are very uptight based on your posts, so I can’t imagine you have a very good sense of humor either.

It’s no surprise that my name gets mentioned along with Terry and some other more liberal people here – and even Joan sometimes. Liberals or not conservative enough posters are deemed to be trolls.
commented 2015-07-27 14:38:50 -0400
Your brand of sarcasm IS truly offensive Jimmy Da Silva. The lowest form of communication, not far above grunting and hitting people with bats. If you stuck to actually expressing your opinion in any kind of intelligent way I wouldn’t label you a troll. It is your right to act like a Neanderthal, but it isn’t your right to expect respect. You are entitled to speak your mind in your insulting way(although I rarely ever hear any actual opinion), but it would be silly to expect people to want to converse with you. I advocate free speech for everyone, even Jimmy, however until his responses are something more than uncivil grunts, he is just a troll to me. Erin has much more tolerance for that stuff than I do.

Back to topic? I am looking forward to seeing this Arman Chak eat crow. This stuff has to be pushed back against. Arman clearly has a vendetta against Ezra. He is nothing more than a bully, and we can’t let the bullies win.
commented 2015-07-27 13:58:07 -0400
Erin,

Thank you for thinking that I am not a troll – I really appreciate that. I wish some other people here had your common sense.

I will respond to the rest of your post later.
commented 2015-07-27 13:53:57 -0400
Deborah,

We are all adults here – I am sure we all can handle it and no one is truly offended.
commented 2015-07-27 13:51:29 -0400
Liza,

That’s interesting to know – since The Daily Show is one of the most intelligent shows on TV and Jon Stewart is all about sarcasm. Does he offend you?
commented 2015-07-27 13:12:48 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva said: “Rick, Your comments all over the Rebel confirm your love for Ezra Levant.” Really? Provide some proof! Otherwise you are engaging in slander. B.T.W. you have not answered my question about Dennis Edney!
commented 2015-07-27 03:31:39 -0400
Jimmy, I appreciate your explanation, and I still don’t think you’re a troll. However, “colourful” banter is rather subjective, isn’t it? That said, I understand, because I get into it with friends in real life as well, and arguments do sometimes become heated.
I don’t agree that the term “media whore” applies to Ezra, or even to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, but I would at least concede that Ezra doesn’t waste any opportunities for publicity about the issues he feels strongly about. My use of that term to describe David Suzuki and Peter Mansbridge was originally intended to be hypothetical, but I got a little carried away. Those two are another subject entirely, but I am curious about the “irrefutable good” you think Suzuki has accomplished over the decades. Can you give me some examples?
commented 2015-07-27 01:11:54 -0400
Jimmy DaSilva – Your comments, more often than not, are offensive! On numerous occasions your posts have been personal attacks on other commentators! I have taken the liberty of going back over your posts for the last 30 days and have copied them! Please, govern yourself with due respect and common courtesy when responding and posting on this, and any other RebelMedia Forum!!! Taks a que from Gregory Alan Elliot!!
commented 2015-07-26 23:16:34 -0400
I know troll, and I am taking you to task for it.
The other thing troll, your idea of banter and colourful words, such as " you must be fucking stupid" , your sarcasm troll, is the absolute lowest form of communication.
Bottom feeder.
commented 2015-07-26 22:19:29 -0400
Rick,

Your comments all over the Rebel confirm your love for Ezra Levant.
commented 2015-07-26 22:11:46 -0400
Liza,

I am sorry – I didn’t realize you had reading comprehension issues. I was speaking to LLRFU.

That’s L L R F U.
commented 2015-07-26 22:10:10 -0400
Erin,

I appreciate what you are saying. I have a very sarcastic and cynical kind of personality and it just comes out when I type. I like banter, colorful words, ribbing and heated debate. It’s really not personal – just shooting the shit. Even when I have debates with my own friends – we will banter back and forth with comments like….you can’t be this fucking stupid. It’s all in good fun.

Ezra is a media whore by his own admission. He may not use that kind of word, but he definitely acknowledges that he says outrageous things simply to get a reaction. Ezra even stated that he isn’t a journalist or reporter – but a pundit and media personality. He is all about trying to stir up controversy – fake or otherwise for ratings. He is Bill O’Reilly meets Rush Limbaugh meets Alex Jones meets Ann Coulter for Canada. Say crazy shit to get the most reaction. Ezra himself would tell you this and so would his lawyer.

Having said that, I don’t have much sympathy for someone who is in the business of saying crazy shit to get a reaction – when they get into trouble. If Ezra was a true journalist – I think more people would be on his side, but he is an attention whore in the media and he is trolling everyone. He actually wants to get sued and loves the attention he gets from it, so if he is getting what he wants – why should anyone care? Win or lose – he doesn’t care. What he cares about is getting your attention. Why would you respect that? It’s like a Jerry Springer kind of mentality. That is Ezra Levant. That isn’t Peter Mansbridge or David Suzuki. Speaking about Suzuki – I am always surprised when conservatives have a problem with him – considering all the irrefutable good that he has done over many decades.

The bottom line is this – if there is no merit to this case, then Ezra will come out on top and be a hero to his fans – which is exactly what he wants. If he loses – there might be something more to this case that hasn’t been revealed yet and Ezra will still look like a hero to his fans as he champions free speech. It’s a win win for him in terms of the kind of person that he is and that’s why I don’t care about Ezra Levant being sued.
commented 2015-07-26 21:59:49 -0400
who you calling a douche troll.
commented 2015-07-26 21:11:44 -0400
LLRFU,

I have debated conservatives like you at The Toronto Star and CBC websites endlessly. Maybe they deleted your comments because you are a douche.
commented 2015-07-26 19:41:24 -0400
Is there no way to counter sue against these nuisance claims? These guys shouldn’t be allowed to flush that much of anyone’s money down the toilet for these frivolous accusations. I hope Erin is right. I also hope there is a way to fight back and make them think twice before they file such suits. It is as bad as a false rape charge. There have to be some repercussions for these people, I would like to see it be monetary, to cover costs and suffering. I want to support Ezra (and will), but until we can really push back, they will continue to bleed us.
commented 2015-07-26 15:49:03 -0400
Crazy is right! Since when is it an offence to disrespect idiots? Who could possibly respect an organization like the Alberta “Human Rights” Commission, or any other organization that tramples all over citizens’ real rights? Launch a counter-suit, Ezra.
commented 2015-07-26 02:08:51 -0400
I sure find it funny how many progressives have a cow over c-51 yet they ignore actual restrictions and attacks on our freedoms like this
commented 2015-07-26 02:07:45 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva yes he has been down this road before and it was always some politically correct scum prosecuting him while ignoring much worse from others.
commented 2015-07-25 15:01:38 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva commented: "Rick,

I am waiting for things to play out in the hearing. I am sorry that I can’t just accept Ezra’s side of things, since he has been down this kind of road before and lost.
I realize you love him, but he has no credibility as far as I am concerned. He’s a media whore. In all actuality, he is loving the fact that he is being sued and getting people like you to pay for it. Any opportunity to get his name in the media is all good with him. Even if he has to get sued to get that media attention."
As usual Jimmy you’re missing the point, or as most lefties, deliberately ignoring the real issue. You have not answered my question about Dennis Edney. That alone speaks volumes as to your bias. Your comment about me “loving” Ezra is baseless, and quite frankly offensive! I would caution you refrain from such language!
commented 2015-07-25 09:27:47 -0400
Much has been made out the fact that Ezra is a lawyer and somehow because speaking as a lawyer he should be censured. Calling someone crazy or nuts or illogical isn’t rendering a legal opinion, it’s just an off the cuff reaction to something perceived as illogical or inane. Notice Ezra didn’t get a medical doctor to testify these people were clinically insane, so to try and claim he was speaking Ex Cathedra is nonsensical.
commented 2015-07-25 07:02:38 -0400
I also find it interesting that Arman Chak (Ezra’s accuser) vociferously defended his brother, Farhan Chak, who falsified his resume claiming to have earned a doctorate degree from England’s Durham University, and failed to disclose that he was charged by EPS with aggravated assault and use of an illegal firearm after a 1993 shooting at an Edmonton nightclub (though he was ultimately not convicted). At least when that came to light, he (rightfully) resigned from the Liberal nomination to Edmonton-Mill Woods. And yet somehow, it’s apparently okay for the NDP premier to appoint an actual, CONVICTED CRIMINAL (Brent Dancey), who served 9 months for committing a violent assault, as the chief of staff to the minister of the environment and status of women.
commented 2015-07-25 04:05:55 -0400
So what if Ezra opined that the AHRT is nothing but a crazy, lawless, kangaroo court? Plenty of people share that same view, including myself. But should saying so justify having one’s life interrupted and picked through, piece by piece, by a quasi-judicial tribunal that is itself currently under fire by the Court of Queen’s Bench? The LSA is out to prove something and it’s using Ezra as a scapegoat.
commented 2015-07-25 03:51:28 -0400
Jimmy, how would you feel if I called someone like David Suzuki or Peter Mansbridge a “media whore”? Is that okay, since that’s what you called Ezra? Would it make a difference if I told you that I sincerely believe both Suzuki and Mansbridge are, in fact, media whores? Because I do.
commented 2015-07-25 03:47:53 -0400
Jimmy, how would you feel if you just received notice of a complaint from your professional regulating society registered by an individual (and fellow LSA member) with a clear, personal grudge against you, who has nothing left to lose following his recent termination of employment with the AHRC by going after you?
How Chak even has standing to lodge a complaint in the first place, when he wasn’t the target of Ezra’s comments, which were journalistic in nature, and Ezra isn’t even an active LSA member, is beyond me.
Legislation governs the case, and as far as I’m concerned, even broadly interpreted, it doesn’t contemplate this scenario.
commented 2015-07-25 03:25:49 -0400
@jimmy Da Silva: I read all of your comments as well as your links, as that’s how I exhibit respect and courtesy toward others and demonstrate my status as a civilized person. I trust it’s not too much of an imposition to request the same treatment in return. After all, it’s when we disagree that the fun really starts, isn’t it? I enjoy these exchanges the most because there’s no filter, and people are — mostly — being honest. I, for one, am against blocking people unless their comments constitute some form of criminal activity.
So for argument’s sake, Jimmy, would you at least concede that Ezra’s personal opinions, whatever they are, as expressed in a journalistic context entirely outside the practice of law, deserve the very same protection and consideration under the law that you and I claim when expressing our own views on the same issue?
Whether you agree with his position or not, doesn’t he enjoy the same rights as us?