I see no design behind this shift (these people aren’t that clever). But notice that in the last couple of weeks, the public debate (such as it is) has been shifted back from “Canada’s government censors are an affront to our God-given rights and freedoms and must be destroyed” to that oldie-but-goodie:
“Ezra Levant is a meanie man!!!”
Because the average Canadians values “niceness” over great, overarching principles like liberty, we now have to re-fight the “Battle of Two Years Ago”, aka the “You Guys Are Mean So You Got What You Deserved” fight.
The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups — blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. — that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That’s nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what’s being punished is thought or speech.
I doubt that any group of drunken toughs is going to hesitate in their pummeling of a gay individual or an African American or a Jew on account of it being a hate crime. If they are not already deterred by the conventional penalties — prison, etc. — then why would additional penalties deter them?
PLUS: this video was up at Marc Lemire’s site: