Western Standard Sued

Syed Soharwardy, a Calgary Muslim imam, is suing the Western Standard for re-publishing the now infamous Danish Cartoons. Soharwardy tried to get the Calgary Police involved in arresting publisher Ezra Levant, but the police refused.

Now, Soharwardy is taking his case to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. In a letter sent out to all Western Standard subscribers, which I got a copy of, Levant argues that using the HRC to limit freedom of speech is wrong:

One of the leaders in Canadian human rights law, Alan Borovoy, was so disturbed by Soharwardy’s abuse of the human rights commission that he wrote a public letter about it in the Calgary Herald on March 16th.

“During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech,” wrote Borovoy, who is general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Censorship was “hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions. There should be no question of the right to publish the impugned cartoons,” he wrote.

Borovoy went even further – he said that the human rights laws should be changed to avoid this sort of abuse in the future. “It would be best, therefore, to change the provisions of the Human Rights Act to remove any such ambiguities of interpretation,” he wrote. That’s an amazing statement, coming from one of the fathers of the Canadian human rights movement.

The Western Standard estimates their legal costs to be $75,000. Soharwardy gets his legal fees paid for by the province because he is launching a human rights complaint.

I usually have a hard time finding myself agreeing with the Western Standard, but I just can’t disagree with Levant here. Human Rights compaints are serious business, but they should not be used to quell freedom of speech.

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