Alberta’s Conservative Government Sought Conviction of Christian Pastor for “Hate Speech”
By John Jalsevac
EDMONTON, Alberta, June 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Social conservatives across Canada are up in arms over the recent ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) against Christian pastor Steve Boissoin, who was accused of propagating "hate speech" by writing a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate outlining his disagreement with the homosexualist activist agenda.
The Boissoin decision has added further fuel to the fire of the already heated campaign against Canada’s human rights commissions, with many Canadian conservatives adding the decision to the list of grievances that they say prove that the commissions are staffed almost exclusively by liberal, anti-conservative and anti-Christian activists.
However, many Canadian conservatives might be surprised to find out that Alberta’s "Progressive Conservative" government, under Premier Ed Stelmach, played an key part in the Boissoin case - and not, as many might expect given the party’s "conservative" nomenclature, to defend Boissoin’s right to express his religious beliefs, but rather to seek his conviction for hate speech.
In the ruling (the full text of which can be found here: http://albertahumanrights.ab.ca/LundDarren113007Pa.pdf) by adjudicator Lori Andreachuk, under the list of "Interveners" is named the Attorney General of Alberta, who was represented by lawyer David Kamal.
According to the ruling, Kamal argued before the human rights tribunal, on behalf of the Attorney General and the government of Alberta, "that Mr. Boissoin’s letter is discriminatory" and that, for the purposes of conviction, "Mr. Boissoin’s letter need only likely cause others to engage in prohibited practices." All that is needed for Boissoin’s conviction, stated Kamal, is for the AHRC to deem that Boissoin’s letter may cause others in the community to discriminate against homosexuals: "No link to actual discriminatory acts need be established in this regard."
Kamal also argued, on the government’s behalf, that "Mr. Boissoin’s letter contains messages that have the effect of enhancing discrimination against homosexuals living in central Alberta. The messages as asserted by Mr. Boissoin add to the misperception of gay people as being inherently evil. Further, Mr. Boissoin condones the mistreatment of gay people through his message creating an atmosphere that is conducive to discrimination."
The representative of the Attorney General also stated that there is evidence linking Boissoin to a violent attack that took place against a homosexual several weeks after the publication of Boissoin’s letter. The evidence of the link, said Kamal, consists of the fact that the victim (not the attacker) mentioned that he had read Boission’s letter, and said that the letter did not make him feel safe.
Ezra Levant, one of the foremost experts on and opponents of the human rights commissions, claims to have read almost every ruling issued by the Alberta Human Rights Commission since the year 2000. In a blog post about the Boissoin case, Levant observed that government interference in HRC cases is practically unheard of, to the point where Levant states, "I can’t recall seeing another case in which the Government of Alberta intervened." (http://ezralevant.com/2008/06/i-accuse-alberta-premier-ed-st.html)
Obviously, then, writes Levant, it was a high priority for Alberta’s conservative government to seek the conviction of pastor Boissoin for speaking his religious beliefs. "Kamal was sent to bring the Progressive Conservative government’s views," says Levant. "To be clear: Kamal wasn’t a lawyer at the HRC. He was sent by the Department of Justice; he was sent by the Attorney General; he was sent to express the political views of the Province of Alberta."
In particular, Levant takes to task the Attorney General’s argument, as stated in paragraph 222 of the AHRC’s ruling, "that if people were allowed to simply hide behind the rubric of political and religious opinion, they would defeat the entire purpose of the human rights legislation."
"Stop for a moment to take that in," says Levant. "Political and religious opinion is just a cover; just a ‘rubric’ - and one that stands in the way of ‘the entire purpose’ of human rights legislation. Well, we can’t have that. The Progressive Conservative government of Alberta, through their lawyer David Kamal, says we have a choice: political and religious opinion or human rights legislation. Premier Ed Stelmach chooses human rights legislation."
One particularly disturbing fact about the government’s decision to ditch precedent and take the rare step of intervening in the Boissoin case, observes Levant, is that HRC adjudicators are not appointed for life, but can be removed or reappointed by the province’s government. "So when the Progressive Conservative government that appointed her [adjudicator Andreachuk] came in and told her their view, you can be damned sure Andreachuk paid very close attention.
"She did, of course. She convicted Rev. Boissoin - and then went on to humiliate him."
Hence, as far as the result of the Boissoin case is concerned, Levant writes, "I blame Darren Lund, the for-profit persecutor of Christians. I blame Andreachuk, government censor. But the lion’s share of the responsibility for this Christophobia must rest with Premier Ed Stelmach and his Progressive Conservatives."
Levant concludes his post on the government’s interference in the Boissoin case by encouraging concerned citizens to write Premier Stelmach and express their disagreement with his government’s decision to intervene in the Boissoin case. "Ask him how he feels about his new title: Ed Stelmach, anti-Christian bigot."
Premier Stelmach can be reached at:
E-mail: [email protected]
Office of the Premier
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 - 97th Avenue
Phone: (780) 427 2251
Fax: (780) 427 1349