An insult to free speech

Freedom of speech does not include the right to have one’s views published or broadcast, wrote the National Post in an editorial June 10. Nor does freedom of the press carry with it an obligation to give space to views opposed to those held by the press’ owners or their editors…. Such a "right" would exist only if the state assumed the power to regulate public discourse, which would be anathema to our democratic ideals.

Apparently, Khurrum Awan (LLB ’07) doesn’t have much respect for those ideals. A recent graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Awan has put his name to various human-rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine and writer Mark Steyn, whom the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) accuses of Islamophobia. Awan and his co-plaintiffs demand that the magazine provide a pro-Islamist writer with space equal to the amount devoted to Steyn’s work.

At a conference over the weekend, Awan betrayed just how thoroughly he and his fellow travellers misunderstand the concept of freedom of speech. He told the Canadian Arab Federation that Muslims must "demand [the] right to participate" in national media. "And we have to tell them, you know what, if you’re not going to allow us to do that, there will be consequences…." That someone who graduated from law school would issue forth with this hostile jumble of threats is a sad reflection of our rights-mad age. Apparently, Awan sees freedom of speech and freedom of the press as petty concepts to be brushed aside in the service of identity politics. In his world, the repository of expressive rights is not the individual, but rather ethnic and religious collectives, whose members must bully taxpayers and media owners into disseminating their propaganda.

If someone were actively seeking to stir up the worst stereotypes Canadians hold in regard to the repressive political cultures being imported into Canada by Arab and Muslim immigrants, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job than Khurrum Awan.

  • Awan’s comments were also discussed on CTS-TV’s “Michael Coren” show, June 9.

Level plan a mistake, lakes commission told

The International Joint Commission (IJC) was told last night that its proposed new Plan 2007 for regulating the level of Lake Ontario jeopardizes the cleanup of Hamilton Harbour and efforts to remove it from the list of Great Lakes pollution hot spots by 2015, wrote the Hamilton Spectator June 10.

John Hall, co-ordinator of the harbour Remedial Action Plan, reminded Canadian co-chair Herb Gray, a former deputy prime minister, and the other commissioners that York University researchers estimate a billion-dollar payback from delisting the harbour, and said: "Do not approve Plan 2007 as this will be very difficult to move away from".

On air

  • Gordon Kirke, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was invited to mediate a dispute between the CBC and the holder of the copyright for Hockey Night in Canada’s theme song, reported Rogers’ CJNI Radio (Halifax) June 9.
  • John-Justin McMurtry, professor in York’s Business & Society Program, in the Faculty of Arts, spoke about Canada’s climate-change strategy on TVO’s “The Agenda”, June 9.