By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
CALGARY, September 16, 2009 (LifeSIteNews.com) - Last year Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin was ordered by the Alberta Human Rights Commission to desist from expressing his views on homosexuality in any sort of public forum, and to pay complainant and homosexual activist Dr. Darren Lund $7,000 in damages. Today, however, he is in Alberta Court of the Queen's Bench, appealing the conviction of hate speech that resulted in the above penalties. That conviction was based upon a letter to the editor in the Red Deer Advocate, in which Boissoin expressed his opinion that homosexuality is immoral and dangerous, and called into question new gay-rights curricula permeating the province's educational system.
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) allied attorney Gerald Chipeur has submitted a full legal brief in the precedent-setting appeal. In that appeal Chipeur is seeking a full dismissal of the complaint and conviction on behalf of Boissoin, and the granting of costs incurred by Boissoin in his defense as well as repayment of the indemnity he paid to Lund.
"People of faith should not be fined or jailed for expressing their political or religious beliefs," said Chipeur in an ADF press release. "The ability to express one's conscience is a fundamental human right protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This pastor cannot be muzzled simply because someone else does not share his viewpoint, and a recent decision from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in a national case confirms this."
On Sept. 2, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruled in a separate case that section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, Canada's human rights legislation against hate messages, unreasonably limits the Charter right to freedom of expression.
Member Athanasios D. Hadjis issued the ruling in the case of Richard Warman and the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) against Marc Lemire, operator of the website FreedomSite.org, who was the subject of a complaint brought by serial complainant and former CHRC employee Richard Warman in November 2003.
Echoing popular conservative pundit and human rights commission critic Mark Steyn, who said that the CHRT decision marked the beginning of the end of hate speech legislation, Marc Lemire commented, "Every Canadian should breathe a great sigh of relief that this kind of kangaroo court and disgusting administration of the human rights commission will come to an end very soon."
The Calgary Herald reports that the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which sanctioned and fined Mr. Boissoin, has declined to participate in the Court of Queen's Bench trial at which the constitutionality of its ruling will be debated, and that both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation will appear as interveners on Boissoin's behalf.
Full text of the legal brief submitted by Boissoin to the Alberta Court of the Queen's Bench is available here.
See previous LSN coverage: