March 02, 2016

Should I be prosecuted for calling Human Rights Commissions “crazy”?

Ezra LevantRebel Commander

Today was the day I was scheduled to 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 two years ago I wrote a newspaper editorial calling Alberta’s human rights commission “crazy”.

Here’s a video I made about this prosecution last year:

This time, the prosecution was going to be at the hands of the Law Society, as if writing a political editorial is some sort of professional misconduct on my part. (I’m a non-practicing lawyer).

Well, after the Law Society prosecutor looked things over, he called my lawyers and said he didn’t want to go through with it. I don’t blame him. There have been 24 previous nuisance complaints filed against me with the Law Society, all filed by my political opponents. And every one of them has been thrown out. Why waste his time prosecuting these ones?

So we’re still meeting at the Law Society today. But it’s to ask the Law Society to ignore these latest nuisance complaints against me. I haven’t worked at a law firm in 13 years and I don't live in Alberta; I had applied to resign as a lawyer years ago — I just refused to do so until all the nuisance complaints were gone, so I wasn’t leaving under a cloud.

Will the Law Society listen to their own prosecutor, ignore these two latest nuisance complaints, and let me get back to being a journalist? Or will they insist on having a hearing about my newspaper editorial two years ago?

We’re about to find out!

Below is the statement that I read out at the hearing moments ago. Let me know what you think.

This whole exercise is designed by my political opponents to waste my time and money — as they’ve done 24 times before. If you feel moved to help chip in to my legal defence fund, I’d be grateful, you can do so by clicking HERE — thanks.

Here’s my statement today:

I’ve been a member of the Law Society of Alberta for sixteen years but I only worked for a law firm for just over one year: after I briefly ran for Parliament in Calgary Southwest in 2002, until I started the Western Standard news magazine in 2003. Those two things – politics and journalism – are what I do. I don’t practice law.

I’m glad I went to law school and I use my legal training almost every day, but I use it to do politics or journalism, not as a lawyer. I haven’t had a client in years.

While I was at the firm, I received no complaints about my professional work. After I stopped practicing law, I kept renewing my Law Society membership and paying my dues, out of habit and sentimentality. Trouble is, by remaining a member of the Law Society, even as a non-practicing lawyer, I gave my political opponents free shots at me through the profession’s complaints procedure.

Starting in 2008, weeks after I launched my political and journalistic campaign to reform Canada’s human rights commissions, I became the target of a series of nuisance complaints to the Law Society. None of the complaints had anything to do with my work as a lawyer – I wasn’t working as a lawyer then. None of the complaints were filed by clients – I didn’t have any clients then. And almost all of the complaints were made by people with no connection to Alberta.

They were filed by political activists who had found a free way to take a run at me because of my politics and journalism. I don’t believe that’s what the Law Societies are about, or what the Code of Professional Conduct is about. But those nuisance complaints were jammed into the catch-all heading of “conduct unbecoming” a lawyer.

I acknowledge that there are some things that could amount to conduct unbecoming for a lawyer, even a non-practicing lawyer. Being convicted of a crime might be one example. But having strong opinions shouldn’t be. Nor should expressing them. Which is good, considering how many opinionated politicians are non-practicing members of the Law Society. Like Premiers Alison Redford, Jim Prentice and Rachel Notley.

It’s been eight years since the first nuisance complaint was filed against me. And as of today, fully 26 complaints have been filed against me, all by political activists. They prefer a Law Society complaint to a letter to the editor, because Law Society complaints compel me to hire a lawyer to defend myself, and to go through a meticulous process, consuming my time and money. And they prefer a Law Society complaint to a civil lawsuit against me, because when their complaints are eventually thrown out, as the 24 resolved complaints have been, they aren’t on the hook for my legal costs. The Law Society of Alberta has become a magnet for every nuisance litigant, crank and shakedown artist in the country. One Ontario left-wing activist – probably living not too far from where I live in Toronto – actually published an online template for how to file complaints against me here in Alberta. Just like me, the Law Society is forced to deal with these tactics.

Every complaint against me has been dismissed so far. But the trouble is, by the time each complaint had been dismissed, another one had been filed. So there has been no free moment to resign from the Law Society in eight years, and I wasn’t going to resign in the face of a complaint. That’s my one complaint: the Law Society has been fair in their dealings with me, and they’ve obviously supported my freedom of speech every single time. But they’ve been slow about it, usually taking more than a year to throw out political complaints.

To my surprise, after eight years of dismissing nuisance complaints without even a hearing, a panel of Benchers recently decided to refer the last two complaints against me to a prosecutor. I really couldn’t believe it – at first I thought it was a typo. The complaints, as you can see, center around a newspaper column in which I called the Alberta human rights commission “crazy”. In a newspaper’s editorial section. We were going to have a full hearing about that.

The Alberta human rights commission is crazy. I know, because I lived through one of their crazier prosecutions – a 900-day blasphemy case against me for the grave sin of publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in a news magazine. But there is no such thing as the counterfeit human right not to be offended. That’s a crazy idea.

I should mention that Syed Soharwardy, one of the imams who filed that human rights commission complaint against me, also filed a Law Society complaint against me too. Both were dismissed.

I believe these last Law Society complaints are a violation of my Charter rights of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. I am confident that they would be dismissed, either by a Law Society panel or a court of appeal. The law in this area is well developed.

It was strange to me that after eight years of standing up for my freedom of speech, a panel of Benchers wanted a hearing. I’ve skimmed through the other disciplinary hearings at the Law Society – lawyers stealing money from client trust funds; lawyers making legal settlements without their client’s permission; lawyers too drunk to do their jobs. Real cases of professional conduct issues. And in the middle of that, a hearing because I called the human rights commission crazy.

Well, look. I’d love to have that hearing, and win, and set a strong precedent for freedom of speech – not just for myself, but so that in the future, no lawyer, either on the right or the left, has to go through the expensive hassle of a multi-year investigation of their political opinions.

I just stared down Premier Notley, whose office directed the sheriff to kick my reporters out of the Legislature. The Premier has backed down. This was an important freedom of speech issue, that we fought on behalf of, but also for the benefit of all journalists. Yet I have no doubt that a Law Society complaint against me is coming, alleging that my comments during this latest fight with the Premier weren’t lawyerly. This merry go round is not going to stop.

To be frank, the cost and inconvenience aside  – I was looking forward to a freedom of speech fight with the Law Society. But a few weeks ago the Law Society raised the idea of resolution without the necessity of a hearing. I was pretty suspicious – what was the catch? Would I be asked to say that the Alberta human rights commission is a great bunch of guys, totally not crazy, really really sane? Or maybe that I shouldn’t have written my newspaper column about it? But that’s not the proposal. It appears all counsel want resolution without a contested hearing which, on their advice, I am prepared to accept.

I haven’t lived in Alberta for years, and I haven’t been at a law firm in over a decade. I actually submitted an application to resign from the Law Society years ago – but on the condition that there are no complaints outstanding against me. So, I’ve been waiting.

I’m a 16-year member of the Law Society without a single disciplinary action on my record. I’d prefer to remain an inactive lawyer, but I accept, that in this situation, it makes little sense for me to remain a member of the Law Society, knowing that the political harassment will continue.

I’ll miss the collegiality of being a lawyer – a little bit. But I won’t miss the nuisance complaints. And I promise I’ll keep fighting for freedom of speech every day in my real job as a journalist and political activist.

I think I know what the Law Society staff wants to do after eight years of nuisance complaints. They want to stop being forced to read my newspaper columns and watch my videos as part of their job. But you’re the deciders here. Let me know what you think is in the interests of the profession, the province, and the Constitution.

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commented 2016-03-11 04:31:32 -0500
No Ezra You can obviously afford a carribian cruise. HRT is not a real court. Stop asking for money. You do it too much.
commented 2016-03-10 11:00:51 -0500
UN laws are the norm! Supreme Court clowns compromised top to bottom.TPP corporate rule! Moving forward defined?
commented 2016-03-04 15:02:17 -0500
I’m offended by a lot of the nonsense that comes out of the mouths of liberals. For example Justin Truedeau seems to think that all Canadains want more carbon tax and that somehow us shelling out more money is going to be an effective means of preserving our environment. I’m a Canadain and I don’t want more carbon tax but somehow I’m roped into and grouped with “all Canadians”. You don’t see me suing every idiot with an opinion, quite the opposite I respect people’s right to open their mouths and say what’s on their mind even if they immediately put thier foot in thier mouth after opening it.
commented 2016-03-03 02:28:46 -0500
And my fiances case against a former employer has lingered for a few years now, but hey she is white and not a progressive drone.
commented 2016-03-02 23:32:54 -0500
What we all should be concerned about here is that a government entity has elevated itself above tax paying Canadian voters to a position where it will seek legal action and retribution against any Canadian citizen who dare speaks out against or ridicule them for the frivolous task they have appointed and financially compensate themselves at the expense of Canadians.
commented 2016-03-02 22:32:38 -0500
Since Ezra used the term crazy it would best be describes as a colloquialism or informal speech. He wasn’t offering a legal clinical insanity claim In other words he was basically saying they were nonsensical or irrational which is allowed under the law. Everyone is entitled to express an opinion or criticism. and no governing body should be above criticism.
commented 2016-03-02 19:05:45 -0500
Hey Ezra, I tried to donate $10, but the minimum is $20.
commented 2016-03-02 18:34:04 -0500
phil e wrote «Firstly, the Alberta Law Society said that Ezra was acting in the capacity of a JOURNALIST

More significantly, the judge in that recent libel lawsuit wrote in her ruling that “Ezra Levant is an outspoken political commentator, journalist and blogger.” So there you have it — a judge has ruled in writing that Levant is, in fact, a journalist. How many other journalists in this country have that credential?
commented 2016-03-02 18:29:20 -0500
«I would like to know if I could sue them for wrongful dismissal.»

You could probably sue them for free using the Human Rights Commission — ironically. Your employer violated your Charter-protected right to free speech.
commented 2016-03-02 18:04:46 -0500
but the Human Rights positions are crazy, though !!! In a case like this, "The truth is an absolute defense " – so if they act crazy and you say that – it is your right. Just because it sounds bad in public does not make it wrong to say. …This just looks like another ruse to stop Ezra from the great work he is doing ! Keep on for the TRUTH , EZRA !!
commented 2016-03-02 17:56:34 -0500
Judy – I would go after them for wrongful dismissal anyways. You need to challenge this because you are entitled to free speech, whether or not somebody didn’t like what you said or not.
commented 2016-03-02 17:54:01 -0500
I would chip in for that Peter Toth. Push back on the bullies. It is a victory to have had it dropped as frivolous though. Regular write ups here to keep them on their toes would be push back also.
commented 2016-03-02 17:43:20 -0500
The tactics of the left are widely known, yet entities such as the law society are either blind, or crazy, not to see right through what is going on. In a perfect world, you should have been awarded all costs involved in dealing with these nuisance attacks. In a perfect world. Maybe you would consider filing a law suit against these activists to recover all costs? Is their a lawyer who would do this for a percentage? Think of the precedence it would set, and the fear it would instill on those far left activists.
commented 2016-03-02 17:43:07 -0500
Ezra…if you represent yourself, you are practising Law!
commented 2016-03-02 17:36:02 -0500
Hey Ezra, I tried to donate $10.00 at this time but the minimum is $20.00.
commented 2016-03-02 17:24:38 -0500
Dear Ezra, I feel for you, I as fired from my job in Jan 2016 for something I posted on Facebook. The person contacted my head office in New York, who contacted the president of the Canadian division. He called me in and fired me. I ask who complainted and which post they were complaining about. He refused to answer me.

I would like to know if I could sue them for wrongful dismissal.

Thank from you fan,

Judy McLean-Hensler
commented 2016-03-02 17:22:55 -0500
The energy and intelligence to inform oneself on important issues and then formulate an opinion, the command of language to communicate persuasively that opinion and the courage to voice it publicly – especially knowing there will be repercussions from powerful censors – all of those are the hallmarks of the greatest lawyers, Ezra.

You have nothing to apologize for.

…and you have our thanks.
commented 2016-03-02 16:53:31 -0500
William – this is just the beginning of the attacks on freedom of speech. I contributed too, but I don’t want my money back because Ezra has incurred many costs already in his continuing defence of free speech. Ezra is the only one fighting for our rights and freedoms, and he had no idea what would happen today. He’s fought 24-false political charges brought against him, and he has never said what the personal cost to him was.
commented 2016-03-02 16:37:03 -0500
Deborah Graupner commented 5 mins ago
I just read that you have been released from the Alberta Law Society, and that the two cases against you have been dropped! This is great news.

What? I just gave Ezra some of my welfare money! This is outrageous and I demand restitution! Is this some kind of trick to get gullible people like me to give away somebody else’s hard earned tax payer moolah? Ezra, I will be keeping an eye on you from now on ….
commented 2016-03-02 16:24:18 -0500
I just read that you have been released from the Alberta Law Society, and that the two cases against you have been dropped! This is great news.
commented 2016-03-02 16:09:30 -0500
Ezra, Ezra, Ezra. Where did we go wrong with you? Did you spend too much time talking and playing with Danielle and Naheed? We always said to be careful what you say about those crazy loons at the human blah blah organization. Please do not offend these incompetent blowhards any more as they are getting tired of working and need more safe time in the tower. Now Ezra, you know we would like you to play nice and don’t throw any more sand in the face of that nice muslim man Syed. As usual I will send a little something to help you out. Please read the attached cartoons as they may bring some sunny ways into your day. Bye for now.
commented 2016-03-02 15:48:28 -0500
Just remember, that if they can do this to Ezra, we the general public are next!
commented 2016-03-02 15:37:23 -0500
I agree with the comments here, esp. Bravo Zulu who put it together so eloquently. Ezra, you are greatly admired for your true bravery and initiative, day in and day out by thousands of Canadians. Keep up the amazing work and may God bless you every day
commented 2016-03-02 15:34:44 -0500
I’m sorry the Industrial Age stripe dispensers are giving you the beans. Can’t help wondering whether this has something to do with federal Liberals’ long-time control of Canada’s justice system. How many of the judiciary got there by going to the right Liberal cocktail parties? Canada is a Third World nation run largely by exclusive private clubs that confer benefits and rewards only to one another.

This is the kind of country where a high school drama teacher elected on a promise to legalize pot who doesn’t understand the notion of independent review will actually tell the business community projects that pass muster under independent review won’t necessarily be granted govt approval. Translation: Final approval requires a special envelope. That’s the only inference one could draw.

How many of us, I wonder, are considering a class action against all the Canadian law societies for failing so epically to discharge their fundamental obligation to protect the public in exchange for they monopoly they abuse to unfairly and unreasonably restrict competition to protect outrageous fees? Not one of them has lifted a finger address the access to justice crisis caused by outrageous fees that mean only the rich get justice. There is NO protection afforded pro se litigants; no effort to make the law accessible. Every tried to research a problem using a govt judgment database? Of course not. Despite HUGE public subsidies, these databases are set up deliberately to ensure they are of little or no practical use. They create an false impression of a public record. And how many times have we heard grift-’ho’s at the law library tell some earnest litigant, “I can’t help you with your case.” Why not? Why pay these parasites? Why doesn’t the law society direct funds to actually assist litigants beyond sending lay people links to legal websites that would only make sense to a lawyer?

Nor does the law society provide any oversight of all the makeshift fly-by-night ‘advocacy’ charities that often give litigants either none or very dubious advice? Such services offer legal advice that may scupper a man’s chance not only at trial but on appeal. These bogus services give judges, masters and innocent litigants are false impression that counsel is available when it is not.

Surely, advocacy to be effective, requires STRONG opinions, and frankly, HR tribunals Canada-wide deserve to come under considerable fire for many of their decisions.

What’s needed in this country is a lot MORE criticism of Canada’ s private club justice system. We are doing just that at the fb group, Biblitz B.C. Law Review. In fact, we’re discussing your harassment by the Alberta club as I write. It’s an open group if quiet but no doubt members fear the chill created by actions just like Alberta’s against young Ezra. All most welcome!
commented 2016-03-02 15:32:37 -0500
Ezra, you are a target that’s for sure. The HRC should be stripped down and investigated on a regular basis to keep them honest. Members backgrounds thoroughly vetted with some stipulations on conflict of interest with past affiliations in mind. Who are these people dictating Human Rights to us? We should have regular items, bio’s, latest cases here on the Rebel, so they know we are watching them. Yes get out of the law society, so you can be free of this harassment. There is only one way to deal with a bully, push back.

“Ancient Mongolian saying- If you’re going to tell the truth, keep one foot in the stirrup.” good one John Landry.

Another old Mongolian saying, “dogs don’t bark at parked cars”, and Ezra is definitely not parked!
commented 2016-03-02 15:24:15 -0500
It sounds like something right out of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
commented 2016-03-02 15:03:51 -0500
Ezra…when this is done you have the makings of a good harassment lawsuit.
commented 2016-03-02 14:54:24 -0500
My take on this is as follows:

Firstly, the Alberta Law Society said that Ezra was acting in the capacity of a JOURNALIST ! Let’s see how Notely tries to circumvent that endorsement to remove Ezra’s journalist credentials. The Law Society of Alberta believes that Ezra is a JOURNALIST, therefore, Notely would have to believe her provincial law society was incompetent if she tries to say Ezra is not a journalist.

Secondly, Sacha Trudeau is petitioning Ralph Goodale to allow a suspected Al Quaeda operative to stay in Canada after the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the security certificate that claims Mohamed Harkat is an undesirable and should be deported. Liberal supporters believe that Sacha Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s brother, has a right to express his opinion without repercussion.

So, it’s okay for Sacha Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s brother, to petition the Minister of Public Safety because he has the right to express his opinion. However, the Law Society of Alberta, and Liberal supporters, do not believe that Ezra has the right to express his opinion.

Canada is rapidly descending into a socialist state where only insiders of the government get to have opinions. That doesn’t surprise me after Justin Trudeau openly stated that he “admired China and its basic dictatorship”.
commented 2016-03-02 14:53:19 -0500
Ancient Mongolian saying- If you’re going to tell the truth, keep one foot in the stirrup.