Civil Liberties

Ezra Levant Is off the Hook That Never Should Have Been Hung


After a year-long investigation that never should have happened, the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has rejected a complaint against Ezra Levant, former publisher of the now-defunct Canadian magazine the Western Standard, over his decision to reprint the controversial Muhammad cartoons that originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Levant declined to celebrate:

This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I'm not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity. That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara [the commission official who recommended against a hearing on the complaint] and know that you have the right to do so, because you're in Canada, not Saudi Arabia.

Yasmeen Nizam, a director of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, which brought the complaint, told the National Post:

We thought this was a good way to bring our concerns to the attention of the public. Obviously we didn't want this to continue, so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion… We wanted this to have a deterrent effect.

Presumably the "this" she does not want to continue is speech that offends Muslims, and she may get her wish. Even without a hearing or a formal penalty, this sort of investigation, which costs the target time, effort, and money, is indeed apt to "have a deterrent effect." 

Matt Welch noted Levant's case in January. I wrote a column about it in February and followed up in a post a couple months ago.

[Thanks to J sub D for the tip.]