A bizarre and frightening spectacle indeed. “The court of last resort,” by Brian Hutchinson for the National Post, June 3 (thanks to CGW):
VANCOUVER -In the subterranean bowels of a provincial courthouse, a bizarre and frightening spectacle starts to unfold.
At issue are the pointed musings of Mark Steyn, a journalist and author living in the United States. A lengthy excerpt from his controversial book, America Alone, was published two years ago in Toronto-based Maclean’s magazine, a weekly publication owned by Toronto-based Roger’s Publishing Ltd.
The book excerpt ran as a cover story, entitled “Why the Future Belongs to Islam,” and argued that Western democracy is threatened by the spread of Islam. In response, a human rights complaint was made here, in British Columbia, by an electrical engineer living in Waterloo, Ont.
That’s the bizarre part, or one slice of it. None of the main players starring in this quasi-judicial drama actually live or work in B. C. Not Mr. Steyn, not the editors responsible for Maclean’s, and not Mohamed Elmasry, a Muslim who launched a complaint to the B. C. Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of all Muslims in this province.
Neither Mr. Steyn, nor his editors, nor Mr. Elmasry were in sight when the tribunal panel began the week-long hearing yesterday. Mr. Steyn will not testify, say lawyers for Maclean’s. Nor will Mr. Elmasry, the aggrieved. So why bring the complaint forward here? Because Mr. Elmasry can. This thanks to provincial human rights legislation of a breadth and elasticity not known in other parts of Canada.
Mr. Elmasry, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and a highly controversial figure himself — especially among Jewish groups — claims the Steyn excerpt denigrated and vilified Canadian Muslims and promoted hatred of an identifiable group.
He is not obliged to demonstrate what harm occurred to whom, or to what degree. Maclean’s magazine and Mr. Steyn could still be found to have violated B. C.’s Human Rights Code. No proof of damage is required.
Meanwhile, if found to have violated the code, Maclean’s faces sanctions, including payment to the complainant “an amount that the member or panel considers appropriate to compensate that person for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect or to any of them.”…
Read it all.