Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alberta minister’s freedom of expression suppressed

Just as we send out our May edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter focusing on religious freedom issues here in Canada, the government of Alberta has balked at proposed changes that would strip the Alberta Human Rights Commission of its abusive power to adjudicate cases of free speech, saying that federal laws provided insufficient protection.  Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett, who had spearheaded proposed changes, was obviously slapped down by Premier Stelmach and forced to tow the party line. Further humiliating him, Blackett was forced yesterday to publicly defend Alberta’s continued support of suppression of freedom of expression.

You can listen to an interview on AM770 in Calgary with Blackett here in which he defends (rather unconvincingly) his flip-flop. Ezra Levant, the author of the best-selling Shakedown, responds immediately afterwards. Click here to listen.  If you would like to download a podcast with both interviews, click here.  Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell summarizes the issue well and provides a valuable perspective in yesterday’s paper.

Having grown up in Alberta, I was always proud of the conservative values I was raised with there and which governed much of Albertan society.  Obviously much has changed, at least at a governmental level.  This is hardly a “Conservative” government, regardless of what is written at the top of their letterhead and on their business cards.  Albertans should be outraged that their government is using exactly the same arguments to defend their suppression of freedom of expression as the Organization of the Islamic Conference is using to push through resolutions at the United Nations that limit the criticism of Islam; the need for a balance between freedom of speech and responsibility. This effectively removes any real meaning to the thought that we can truly exercise the right to hold and express opinions without prejudice or penalty.  I am not suggesting that people don’t truly have a responsibility to to use their rights in a civil way, but the exercise of responsibility is a moral issue, one of maturity and manners, not a legal one.  The penalty for using one’s responsibilities and/or duties improperly should be criticism, debate, a rebuke, and any other number of ways in which society deals with improper (but not illegal) behaviour. But not criminalisation.  To suggest otherwise, opens the door to a level of government interference in our lives that is beyond its God-given mandate.

No comments: