The situation has not improved in the past month; Canadian newspaper writers and bloggers are facing a two-pronged attack. Like their American counterparts, they are being hit with lawsuits, both by Muslims and by leftists. But Canadians are also subject to the whims of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, so recently made famous for its Star Chamber proceedings against Ezra Levant.
The article below differs slightly from the version that appeared in No Apologies. According to Ms. Fournier, “This is the piece that Michelle Malkin put on her website, but I’ve updated it a bit. The Warman suit hadn’t been served yet when I wrote it.”
The Battle for the Blogosphere
by Connie Fournier
Over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent to Canadian Christians that our freedom is under attack. The airwaves are under the tight control of the CRTC, our major television network is operated by the government, and the mainstream media tends to ignore us when they are not displaying open hostility toward our worldview. When it was announced last week that the government is planning to pull financial aid (tax credits) for any film or television show that it deems offensive or not in the public’s best interest, I couldn’t help but shudder. I think our recent experience in dealing with various human rights commissions may be a precursor that will give us some considerable insight into how these new regulations will be applied to Christians. If the past is any indication, it doesn’t look good.
The one bright spot on the landscape for citizens who love freedom has been the advent of the internet. At no time in North American history have ordinary citizens had as much political power as they do today. Words written by the stay-at-home mom, the computer nerd or the diesel mechanic are being thrust under the noses of politicians and pundits who have previously been able to whitewash the opinions of those who had no public platform. Christians and social conservatives have been learning to use the technology very effectively, as was demonstrated when they won CBC’s “Great Canadian wish contest” last year with “abolish abortion”.
The conservative internet, however, is under attack. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has already been used on many occasions to shut down websites and to place lifetime speech bans on webmasters who have been hauled before its tribunals.
The human rights commission attacks on Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn have made a lot of people aware of the danger of allowing these government bodies to regulate the speech of Canadians, and the internet has been abuzz with stories of bureaucratic abuse. The fight for free speech has begun.
As you might expect, these commissions and those who support them are not prepared to go down without a fight. In recent days, defamation notices have begun to arrive at the doors of the bloggers and website owners who have dared to comment on former human rights investigator and EGALE member, Richard Warman, or his staunchest defender, former Liberal war room strategist, Warren Kinsella. (Yes, he’s the same Warren Kinsella who ridiculed Stockwell Day’s Creationist views with a Barney doll on national television.)
Statements of claim have now been served by Richard Warman on the following Canadian conservative bloggers and writers:
|Jonathan Kay||The National Post|
|Catherine McMillan||Small Dead Animals|
|Kathy Shaidle||Five Feet of Fury|
|Connie and Mark Fournier||Free Dominion (Canada’s sister site to Free Republic)|
– – – – – – – – –
The defamation suits that are being filed against the largest sites in the Canadian conservative blogosphere threaten to put a chill on freedom of thought in Canada. The fact that site owners are being sued over posts that have been made by their members is already making webmasters wonder if allowing free speech on their websites is worth the risk to their homes or their savings. Some have already elected to close their blogs.
As Christians we must fight this battle with everything we have. The ground we have gained for freedom of expression by using the internet is about to be eaten up as webmasters see the lawsuits mount and quietly shut down the comments sections on their blogs, and begin to shut down their forums.
The battle is raging, and we need your prayerful support.
Free Dominion was served with a human rights complaint last summer which was later dropped. Currently, we are in the midst of two defamation suits initiated by Richard Warman, and we have been served notice of another joint suit by Warman and Warren Kinsella. Ezra Levant is fighting a human rights complaint before the Alberta Human Rights Commission on top of his suit from Richard Warman. Mark Steyn is fighting several human rights complaints, and he is suffering almost daily abuse on Warren Kinsella’s blog. The most vocal writers who have been fighting the human rights commissions have been threatened with lawsuits and worse. Blogger Mike Brock even received an email that read, “I hope that type of sentiment comforts you the day you find yourself staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun, Mike.”
We believe that there will be more SLAPP lawsuits and more human rights complaint coming, and it is absolutely critical that we go the distance. We will lose our chance to reclaim our right to free speech in every other medium if we lose the stronghold we have built on the internet. We cannot allow even one more website to go dark, or for another blogger to shut down their comments out of fear of the radical left.
Make no mistake, war has been declared on our faith and our freedom and the result of this fight will profoundly affect all of us. even those who have never been online. It is up to us to bring news of this battle to our friends and family who love freedom. So, send some emails, make some phone calls, and activate your prayer chains. We cannot and must not lose this fight. Our future depends on it.
Connie Fournier is — with her husband Mark — the co-founder of Canada’s largest political discussion forum, FreeDominion.com.pa, which boasts a membership of over 8,500, and gets nearly 2 million page views per month. Out of concern for their own legal protection, in early 2007 she and Mark sold the site to Liberty News Service of Panama; a company which describes its corporate mission as “buying websites from individuals and corporations living in countries where free speech is under attack, and protecting those websites from being shut down or seized by oppressive governments” Connie lives in Kingston Ontario with her husband and four teenagers.