“Canada’s Conservative government is considering a probe of the investigation techniques used by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which have been widely criticized as a threat to free speech and due process.”
Two American Web sites — one conservative, the other Catholic — are at the heart of a Canadian provincial government hearing against Maclean’s magazine, Canada’s largest national newsweekly.
The American Web sites introduced by the complainants are FreeRepublic, a popular conservative discussion forum, and Catholic Answers, an evangelism and apologetics site popular among young Catholics. Both American sites are based in California.
Faisal Joseph, an attorney for the Muslim group that brought the charges against Maclean’s, introduced discussions on the two U.S. sites as evidence that Mr. Steyn’s 2006 article had exposed Muslims in North America to hate. Posters on both forums had commented on the Maclean’s article, with some comments expressing strong anti-Islamic sentiment.
Mr. Joseph also cited postings from Five Feet of Fury, the Web site run by Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, and the Brussels Journal, a Web site that styles itself “the voice of conservatism in Europe.”
Maclean’s has no control over how anonymous Internet posters respond to articles that appear in its magazine — particularly when the Web sites hosting the discussion are outside Canada’s jurisdiction and the commentators are Americans protected by the First Amendment, attorneys for Maclean’s argued.
Numerous Canadians and Americans following the hearing denounced the case as absurd and that it is a threat to free speech that a provincial tribunal is asserting jurisdiction over the writings of a best-selling author residing in New Hampshire, based upon an out-of-province complainant offended by the response of anonymous American readers on American Web sites.