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"HANDS OFF THE INTERENET!" FREE SPEECH SUPPORTERS TELL OTTAWA
OCTOBER 29, 2003: Skin drenching rain didn't dampen the spirits of free speech supporters from around Ontario, who converged on Ottawa, Wednesday, to send the politicians and the Canadian Human Rights Commission a message: "Hands off the Internet!" Protesters came from London, Mississauga, Toronto, Oshawa and joined Ottawa free speech supporters.
At 1:00 p.m., leaders held a press conference in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Paul Fromm of the Canadian Association for Free Expression who had booked the press conference had been warned by press gallery staff not to mention the name Ernst Zundel.
The press conference exposed the extensive campaign of harassment against dissident websites by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and by one of its lawyers, Richard Warman, who has written to meetings halls seeking to get dissident meetings cancelled. [Paul Fromm's remarks are attached below.]
Joining Mr. Fromm at the press conference were two victims of Richard Warman. The first was Jason Oewendyk, leader of the Northern Alliance. After the Alliance called Warman an enemy of freedom on its website, Warman sued them in Small Claims Court for libel, a seeming abuse of process, as Small Claims Court normally deals with an already established debt, not an alleged and, as yet unproven, tort or wrongdoing.
A second victim of Warman's campaign of intimidation of dissident opinion is Ottawa monetary reformer Tom Kennedy. Warman has sent letters to several locations trying to cancel Mr. Kennedy's meetings. Warman also sued Kennedy for libel in Small Claims Court for carrying copies of a David Icke book CHILDREN OF THE MATRIX, which, among other things, exposes Warman's fanatical efforts to shut down people with whom he disagrees politically. A Small Claims Court recently threw the action out, saying that Small Claims Court is the wrong place for this action.
Melissa Guille who heads up the Canadian Heritage Alliance also told the press of her group's firm commitment to freedom of speech on the Internet.
After the press conference, the leaders joined the rest of the free speech supporters for a 2:00 p.m. protest outside the offices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission at 344 Slater Street. Despite a steady downpour, the afternoon sky was pierced again and again with the chant: "Hands off the Internet. We're not a communist country yet!"
Civil servants scurried past a sea of bright Red Ensigns and placards proclaiming: "Hands off the Internet."
Despite having sent notices and FAXes to at least 20 local media, the free speech march attracted no Ottawa media attentiion at all. "The location was right downtown. It was a workday. The topic is of national importance. Yet, the press, the guardians of free speech are off having a snooze," said Paul Fromm. "The guardians of free speeech are asleep, indifferent, or, as I suspect, and even worse, they are in basic agreement with censorship of the Internet. Some day, they'll have a lot to answer for," he warns.
Across the street from the protest, behind the smoky glass of the Minto Centre some spook or cop was surrepititiously photographing free men and women peacefully protesting the politically correct reign of censorship terror and thought control emanating from the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
(Notes for remarks by Paul Fromm, Director, Canadian Association for Free Expression for a Press Conference at the Parliamentary Press Bureau. Ottawa,. October 29, 2003)
In a National Post poll last November, 91 per cent of Canadians said that free speech was the freedom they cherished most. Indeed, free speech is vital to any democracy. However powerful forces, using taxpayers' money, are working hard to throttle the Internet.
Bill C-36, Canada's anti-terrorism Act, granted control of the Internet to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In previous Internet cases, they have ruled, in weird Orwellian fashion, that truth is no defence! This is a shocking departure from Anglo-Saxon Common Law which sets truth at the very core of all legal proceedings.
Since then, this body has made war on political dissent. Home grown dissidents, many small, poorly funded people expressing their views on their websites, have become their victims. One of their key aims is further persecution of free thinkers on the Internet.
Richard Warman, a lawyer with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, has been attacking the websites of tax critics and opponents of Israel. He has approached Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in both Canada and the U.S. seeking to have them pull the plug on websites he finds offensive. When called an enemy of free speech on the Northern Alliance website, Warman sued the Alliance in small claims court. In other instances, he has written letters to try to get meetings of dissidents like Tom Kennedy, Dave Lindsay and David Icke cancelled.
We are especially concerned by the activities of Mr. Warman. Sometimes acting on behalf of the CHRC and sometimes, saying he's acting on his own, Warman, at times, acts like a one man thought police agency.
For instance, on May 5, 2002, he wrote a letter to Rev., David Watson of Central United Church in Weston, urging that he cancel a booking by tax protester Tom Kennedy of Ottawa. The meeting was duly cancelled.
Last Saturday, in Victoria, B.C., Warman spoke to a small meeting where he joined a panel of others intent on gagging free expression on the Internet. Asked by a member of the audience about such websites as the Heritage Front and B.C. White Pride, which Warman hadn't mentioned in his talk, the Ottawa-based censor warned: "They just move to a U.S. server, but, mark my words, their time is coming!" What gives this public servant the right to threaten the free expression of political opinions by his fellow Canadians.
A recent Access to Information request in B.C. reveals that, in 2002, Warman wrote to numerous libraries across Canada, including those in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, and Kelowna demanding that they remove copies of a book by British New Age writer David Icke entitled Children of the Matrix. Warman disputed some of Icke's criticisms of his censorship activities. We find such book banning efforts reprehensible.
Referring to Mr. Icke, during an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, Mr. Warman demanded: "What benefit can there be in allowing him to speak?" We might ask: Who gives Mr. Warman the right to determine who may or may not speak or post on the Internet? This prominent and powerful operative for the Canadian Human Rights Commission seems to have a real problem allowing people with views different from his the right to express those views. We, therefore, question his fitness to play a key role in determining who can and cannot post their views on the Internet.
Canada needs more open and public debate. All shades of political opinion should be heard and debated. There should be no sacred cows. One of the most open and free media is the Internet. It's accessible to the average man. Yet, this is the very medium censors like Richard Warman are trying to throttle.
In particular, we protest the use of taxpayers' money to restrict freedom of speech. There is something sad and demeaning when taxpayers' dollars are used to restrict what free men and women may say and write or read.
Freedom of speech in Canada would be a lot safer if the control freaks at the Canadian Human Rights Commission were sent packing and this censorship agency were closed for good.
We say: "Hands off the Internet. Give free speech a chance. Shame on the thought police!". _________
The Canadian Association for Free Expression was founded in 1981 and is one of Canada's leading defenders of freedom of speech and expression. We raise money for victims of thought crimes legislation, lobby politicians to remove anti-free speech laws and intervene in cases to support free speech.
We publish The Free Speech Monitor 10 times a year. Subscriptions are $15.00.
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