(Note: in the image above, “QC” is the province of Quebec)
Here’s an article about the latest restrictions on free speech written by the editors of the centrist National Post, one of Canada’s two national newspapers.
In mid-June, when Quebecers’ thoughts were more attuned to summer plans than politics, Premier Philippe Couillard introduced two new bills in the National Assembly. One was long anticipated and non-controversial (in Quebec). The other was a bit of a bombshell.
The first, Bill 62, would shore up “religious neutrality” in Quebec. Its principal provision, the proscription of face coverings in the public sector, is largely pointless but relatively mild, as curtailments on religious freedom go, compared to the broader ban on religious garb the Parti Québécois had contemplated.
Bill 59, on which consultations are to start next week, is far more worrisome. Bill 59 assigns new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to combat hate speech, as well as a variety of other provisions meant to protect against extremism, by censoring speech that promotes “fear of the other.” Ominously, the bill would allow the QHRC to pursue websites that in its estimation describe and denounce Islamism.
[…]The details of Bill 59 are chilling. Article 6 would “give the QHRC the power to initiate legal proceedings before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal without having to wait for complaints from the public.” Article 3 allows members of an identifiable group as well as people outside the group to make complaints triggering suits for hate speech before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.
If this has a déjà vu quality to it, it should. Bill 59 would pave the same well-travelled road to suppression of speech and opinion that led, via the similar Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, to the infamous pursuit of journalists Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant by Muslim activists determined to stifle normative expressions of opinion. The public’s disgust at such bureaucratic despotism happily led to its repeal at the federal level.
A Toronto Sun article talks about the driving force behind Bill 59 – to criminalize speech that offends Muslims, in particular:
In plainspeak, the new bill, if passed, would give the QHRC the authority to commence witch hunts on its own accord, on the broadest and flimsiest of excuses, and hold people guilty based on someone’s – anyone’s – say-so that statements or postings caused fear for their equality.
If this sounds like an ultra-progressive attempt to shut up any person or shut down any website that radical Muslims find offensive, that’s because it is exactly that.
Time and again commission President Jacques Frémont has said he believes Islamophobia is one of the greatest human rights scourges in Canada.
He is convinced all sorts of people, groups and governments have used the 9/11 attacks as a pretense to single out Muslims and abuse their basic human rights.
Fremont has even admitted (boasted?) that if the Quebec National Assembly passes Bill 59, he and his human rights police intend to use the law to convict “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page.”
According to an analysis conducted for the Canadian Bar Association, “the Québec bill goes further than similar provisions in other provinces, such as that which the Supreme Court upheld in Saskatchewan v. Whatcott.”
The Quebec legislation even mimics recommendations to censor the Internet brought to the United Nations by the organization representing the world’s Muslim-majority nations.
Now, it’s true that Quebec is the ultimate have-not province. It is the least intelligent, least religious, least moral province in Canada, and it only survives because it collects money from provinces where people still have morality and a work ethic. But that doesn’t stop them from digging their pit lower and lower. They are the Greece / Scotland of Canada.
If you happen to find yourself living in Canada, and you value free speech and freedom of conscience, for goodness sake, get out now and stay out. There is no free speech, religious freedom or freedom of conscience in Canada. There is no First Amendment in Canada. Anything you say that anyone finds offensive is liable to land you in front of a kangaroo court run by the secular left.
By the way, if you worry that things like that are coming to the United States, then you are right to be worried. The secular left is taking aim at religious freedom, and their champion is Barack Obama. Canada is just 10 years ahead of us. These things are coming here.