That poor woman down the street
Apparently it's perfectly okay for the CHRC to hijack its neighbour's computer system
MARK STEYN | April 2, 2008 |
I should begin with a correction. Last week, I was at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing for the case of Warman vs. Lemire. Richard Warman is the Canadian Human Rights Commission's plaintiff on every single complaint filed since 2002, and Marc Lemire is a supposed white supremacist on trial for the "hate messages" at his Freedom Site — or, at any rate, the handful of "hate messages" on his Freedom Site that weren't posted by undercover CHRC operatives whiling away an idle afternoon. Apropos the defendant, I wrote:
"Who is Marc Lemire? Ah, well, he's not the poster boy one would pick for a campaign to restore Canadian liberties, particularly if the poster shows him in the quasi-Nazi get-up he's wearing in that picture of him standing behind Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel."
The photograph in question was emailed to me by readers of Warren Kinsella, former hit man for Jean Chrétien, and Mr. Kinsella's friend, the blogger "Dr. Dawg," accompanied by messages on the lines of: "How do you feel about the company you and your fellow 'freespeechers' are keeping now, Steyn? The Ernst Zundel Road Show revival tour has a new member, eh?" Etc.
Actually, I had a good old laugh about it. The black fascist garb would be more menacing if it didn't have the cute little Maple Leaf blaze on the shoulder, which makes the uniforms look like costumes for some post-Anschluss dystopian rewrite of Rose-Marie played in summer stock at Totleigh Village Hall by Sir Roderick Spode's Black Shorts. But the same types who email me scoffing that Bush's so-called "war on terror" is just a racket to boost Halliburton's stock price and enable Dick Cheney to find out what library books Americans are reading are nevertheless convinced that there is a clear and present Nazi threat to the wee delicate Dominion that can only be prevented by dragging every two-bit Internet poster up before the thought-crime enforcers.
Unfortunately, Mr. Lemire is insistent that the swarthy fellow in the reflector shades standing behind Herr Zundel is not him. He claims he was 17 at the time and had never met the celebrated neo-Nazi. "Dr. Dawg" says he got the picture from the Nizkor website, which he describes as "impeccable." We sent off an email seeking clarification to Ken McVay, who runs Nizkor, and it seems he has now withdrawn the identification of the man in the picture as Marc Lemire. I regret the error.
I regret it mainly because I should have known by now that on verifiable stuff involving facts, dates, evidence and whatnot Mr. Lemire tends to be right, and his naysayers wrong. Back during the O.J. trial, there was a well-retailed crack about the LAPD: a police force so incompetent they can't even frame a guilty man. That would seem to be the case with the Keystone Kops of Kanada's Human Rights Kommission. Let's take it as read that Marc Lemire is guilty, if only because, if you're unfortunate enough to attract their attention, you're guilty: in the entire history of the CHRC, not a single defendant charged with a federal Section 13 "hate messages" crime has ever been acquitted. The sole exception was the "Canadian Nazi Party," which got off scot-free on the technicality that it did not, in fact, exist. But, if you do have the misfortune to exist, Section 13 has a 100 per cent conviction rate that the justice systems of Kim Jong Il and the Burmese junta can only envy, which you'd think might be a tad embarrassing to the justice system of a free country. Au contraire, the bald statistic most damning of the entire enterprise is a source of pride to the enforcers. As the CHRC boasts in its 2007 annual report, the conviction of every single defendant to come before the tribunal is "sending a powerful message of social solidarity," which is a nice fluffily collectivist way of expressing the system's contempt for individual liberty.
So Mr. Lemire is guilty, just as Maclean's is no doubt guilty (our own case comes up before the thought police in a few months' time). Section 13 is so poorly drawn, requires no evidence of any crime or likely crime, and does not recognize truth as a defence. That being so, how difficult can it be for a money-no-object agency of the Canadian state to convict a schlub like Marc Lemire?
Well, evidently it's trickier than it looks. Even in an ersatz legal system with a 100 per cent conviction rate, and none of the traditional demarcation lines between plaintiff, prosecutor, judge and jury, plus a serial plaintiff who is a former employee of the prosecutor, and no due process or otherwise objective procedures, even with the deck stacked overwhelmingly in its favour, the Canadian Human Rights Commission felt its "case" against Marc Lemire was a little weak. So they resorted to entrapment, telecommunications fraud, and identity theft. And at no point in their fun 'n' games did anyone think, "Whoa, I wonder if this is in compliance with our procedures." Why would you? How can you be in breach of your procedures when there are no procedures? You can do whatever you like to whomsoever you like.
So, in order to goad their target into saying something just a teensy-weensy bit offensive, both the chief investigator, Dean Steacy, and the "complainant," Richard Warman, began logging on to Mr. Lemire's site under their respective aliases. I say "respective aliases" but at one point Mr. Warman was logging on to Internet "hate sites" under Mr. Steacy's secret identity, "jadewarr." He'd misplaced some "hate message" or other, and so strolled over to the commission and was allowed to use the government's computers, passwords and covert hate-site membership ("jadewarr") until he'd found what he was looking for. Richard Warman is supposed to be a private citizen who has filed a "complaint," yet he's allowed full access to the state's investigation. If Mr. Warman got mugged, would he be permitted to wander into the Ottawa police forensics lab and fiddle around with hair and fibre samples from the scene? Dean Steacy denied in court that there was any collusion between the CHRC and their lone plaintiff, and one can see his point: who needs to "collude" when Mr. Warman enjoys open access to the system?
Does every Canadian citizen have the right to monkey around the CHRC computers on complaints they've got an interest in? If so, I'll be in at 10 a.m. next Thursday to poke around the files relating to the Maclean's case. If I need to bring two pieces of picture ID, do let me know.
When Mr. Steacy began posting messages on hate sites as "jadewarr," he was sufficiently Internet savvy not to leave any ISP information that could be traced back to the CHRC. He didn't want Marc Lemire looking at his server logs and noticing any unusual interest from anything ending in "gc.ca." So Mr. Steacy disconnected himself from the office Internet, and looked around for alternative wireless connections. He found one belonging to a young lady whose apartment is a block away from CHRC headquarters in Ottawa. Without obtaining a warrant, he connected to her server, and in effect used her as his cover for his "jadewarr" postings. Last week, a representative from Bell Canada named the lady in open court, since when her name has been reported in the newspapers. Let's say in 10 years' time, this woman applies for a job in, oh, Sarnia or Moose Jaw or Des Moines, and her prospective employer decides to Google her name, and what comes up is all very complicated and hard to follow but she seems to have something to do with some white supremacist investigation back in 2008.
No, she doesn't. She's a blameless woman moved into the line of fire to cover Dean Steacy's tracks. If I were her, I'd be contemplating one monsteroo lawsuit against the CHRC for their appropriation of her identity.
Incidentally, if you examine the philosophical underpinnings of Canada's "human rights" "jurisprudence," you're struck by a consistent contempt not just for freedom of expression and the presumption of innocence but also for property rights: it's no surprise that a body that takes unto itself the power to regulate the content of privately owned magazines also assumes with nary a thought that it has the right to hijack its neighbours' computer systems when it needs to construct a false identity.
Is it worth corrupting all the norms and safeguards and time-tested balances of the English legal system to nail Marc Lemire? In their latest act of improvised self-protection, the tribunal abolished the role of court stenographer for last Tuesday's hearing. The state has spent millions of your tax dollars dragging the proprietor of an unread website into the dock, but suddenly decided halfway through the case that scrapping the court stenographer is a vital saving of a few hundred bucks. And amazingly this innovation was introduced only on the day on which the "secret trial" was opened up to the press and public.
Although the CHRC behaves like a rogue agency way beyond political accountability, it remains formally the responsibility of the minister of justice. So what does Rob Nicholson have to say about his Frankenstein monster? Sadly, he seems to have had reconstructive surgery and entered the witness protection program. Way back on Jan. 22, I sent a written request for an interview with the minister, copied to his media relations honcho, Christian Girouard. Didn't hear anything. But that's okay. They're busy people, and I'm a patient chap. As the months ticked by, I sent a written reminder to M. Girouard. And, eventually, on Friday, March 28, we called, and were told that my "interview request" was in the system and the fellow to speak to was Darren Eke. A message was left on Mr. Eke's voicemail, but he never returned it. So on March 31, we called again, and were assured by his assistant Megan that a reply was en route via email. Still hasn't come.
I usually manage to get a response from the White House, the Pentagon, Downing Street, even Buckingham Palace within less than three months. I don't mean I call up and demand to be put through to the Queen, but her press office is usually willing to have a word with the press, that being their job. By contrast, the Justice Department appears to have a media relations office that prefers not to relate to the media. Look, maybe it would be quicker if Mr. Eke or M. Girouard just forwarded their reply via Dean Steacy and he could access that lady across the street's computer and post it as "jadewarr" for me to read on manitobawhitesupremacists.com.