When the right wing gets together, there’s usually enough room left in the phone booth for a marching band, but last night’s Fraser Institute gathering here in Vancouver was sold out.

And the speaker, neo-con Albertan Ezra Levant, is the toast of the Left Coast. The former Western Standard publisher and Reform MP is on a Vancouver tour de triomphe while basking in the glow of rave reviews for his latest book, Shakedown, including one from Rex Murphy, the man who put the polysyllables in pundit.

What’s going on here? Why is Ezra Levant the flavour of the month? Dare I say because he deserves to be?

Levant and his fellow traveller, Mark Steyn, were both targeted by various of the 13 Canadian human rights commissions for their work on Islam: Levant for publishing the notorious Danish Muhammad cartoons when he knew it was dangerous; and Steyn for musing in MacLean’s that Islam is winning the war against civilization by breeding more ambitiously.

Yes, the neo-con is always wondering why the rest of us fuzzy thinkers can’t see that the glass is half empty and draining fast. But whatever I think, I support the right’s right to say what it thinks. Not so the collective government thought police known as the human rights commission. Under the guise of protecting the rights of minorities, the HRCs have trampled everyone else’s.

Steyn and Levant, unlike so many cowed into silence, stood up against what Levant calls “Alice in Wonderland commissions where bizarre new human rights are made up on the spot and where regular legal procedures don’t apply.” Shakedown is an account of his persecution at the hands of the Alberta commission, as well as a tour through the highlights of a Canadian quasi-judicial system gone starkers.

I think Levant is enjoying his 15 minutes of positive press because Canadians are waking up to the fact that their human rights watchdogs are off the leash, and are thankful that someone has the guts to stand up for freedom of speech, our most important right, the one most in danger of being trampled under the boot of government good intentions.

One hundred people died in the savage madness that erupted over the Danish cartoons poking fun at the prophet Muhammad. I want to continue to live in a country where I can argue with Islam and frankly with all religions promising eternal bliss in return for lockstep compliance here on earth, and not fear the wrath of holy men and bureaucrats.

Thanks to unlikely heroes such as Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, I am still free to speak and write the truth as I see it. But it’s a near thing, and Thomas Jefferson’s words still ring true: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

– Paul Sullivan is a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting;

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