I remember a time when Stephen Harper actually believed in free expression.
Back in 1999, while we worked together at the National Citizens Coalition, here's what he said about the way Human Rights Commissions were censoring speech:
"Human Rights Commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society ... It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff."
But now he is singing a different tune.
Here's what he recently told Macleans magazine when asked if the government planned to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prevent interferences with free expression:
"The government has no plans to do so. We’re certainly aware of the issue. My understanding—we’ve been monitoring this closely—I think you’ll actually see there’s been some modification of behaviour on the part of the Canadian human rights commissions. The most egregious cases right now are mostly at the provincial level. And it is a very tricky issue of public policy because obviously, as we’ve seen, some of these powers can be abused. But they do exist for valid reasons, which is obviously to prevent public airwaves from being used to disseminate hate against vulnerable members of our society. That’s a valid objective. It’s probably the case that we haven’t got the balance right, but I’m not sure the government today has any answer on what an appropriate balance would be."
So now Harper believes censoring speech is a "valid objective."
Mind you, Harper also at one time believed our election black out rules were wrong. Has he done anything to change them. Nope.
He also believed election gag laws were wrong. Has he done anything to change or reform them? Has he even spoken out against gag laws? Nope and Nope.
You can read more about my opinion on this matter here.
Suffice to say, free speech advocates have few friends in Ottawa these days.