The Canadian government, through the Human Rights Commission, is impeding freedom of speech by trying to arbitrate what publications are allowed to print, a lawyer and political pundit says.
Ezra Levant became famous after he reprinted controversial Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed while the publisher of Calgary-based Western Standard magazine in 2006.
He spoke at the Fraser Institute in Vancouver yesterday.
Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Edmonton Muslim Council filed a complaint under the Human Rights Act, which says Levant risked exposing Muslim Canadians to hatred or contempt.
“There are some proper limits on free speech,” Levant said, adding he agrees with outlawing treason, defamation and slander.
“None of these apply to the offence for which I’ve been charged.
“We (printed the cartoons) … as a prosecutor might put a piece of evidence into court as an exhibit. There were riots overseas over (the) cartoons —here’s what they looked like.”
He said criminalizing news reporting is Orwellian.
“Are these people who truly believe in human rights, who are speaking for the downtrodden? Or are they people who pick up a weapon … against anyone who dares have a political discussion against them?” he said.
“These rules are so vague and malleable they can be abused, (and) to enforce them equally would be to censor anything offensive.”