...Even before 9/11, the notion that neo-Nazism and KKK-style racism was still a real and lingering threat to Canada’s social fabric was beginning to wear very thin. But Section 13 and its provincial equivalents remained on the books anyway. Canadian society, then as now, felt vaguely guilty about the (very real) mistreatment historically doled out to Jews, blacks, aboriginals and immigrants. And though many Canadians rolled their eyes at the manner by which human-rights commissions were expanding the definition of “discrimination,” most bien-pensant types still saw eliminating racism as a more important project than protecting free speech.
All of this changed on October 20, 2006, the publication date of Mark Steyn’s famousMaclean’s magazine essay “The future belongs to Islam” (adapted from his book,America Alone. Its theme was that an enfeebled West was under demographic siege from Muslim immigrant populations bristling with militant attitudes and unassimilated young men. Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress launched complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its provincial equivalents in B.C. and Ontario. Around the same time, the (now defunct) Western Standard magazine, published by current Sun News talking head Ezra Levant, printed the infamousJyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, which elicited a separate set of human rights complaints from Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. The backlash against these two (unsuccessful) human-rights prosecutions ultimately is what led to the elimination of Section 13 of the Human Rights Act.
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