The best, the most pointed and comprehensive opinion on the award of the Order of Canada pin to Henry Morgentaler, in the course of this long grim week, was by Ian Hunter in the National Post:
“In old Canada, Morgentaler was prosecuted and sent to jail for performing illegal abortions. But that was in another era and, as far as I’m concerned, another country—a country as dead as any of the recipients of Morgentaler’s attentions.”
I shall say something about that award tomorrow. For today I want to focus on the New Canada—the one that is like the old one turned upside down—and what, if anything, we can do to start putting it right way up again. In everything I write, I am aware that Canada is not an unusual case—that what has happened here in the course of the last couple of generations has been happening, at different speeds, in every Western country: a form of moral disintegration.
Mr Hunter is a professor emeritus of law: one of the last from that “Old Canada,” at sea in the New. I’ve known him for some time now. It was from him I commissioned an article entitled “What’s Wrong with Human Rights”—a quarter-century ago in my now long-defunct magazine, The Idler. The article explained to readers how the Left had taken hold of the expression, “human rights,” and twisted it, so that it had come to mean the opposite of what it had meant when it acquired its prestige. And in particular, how Trudeau’s 1982 “Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” and the frenzy of other “human rights” acts from that era, with their absolute commitments to various undefined terms, were daggers aimed at the heart of our free society.
Prof. Hunter quoted the great American jurisprude, Learned Hand. The spirit of liberty “lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it; and while it is alive it needs no constitution, no law, no court.”
Hunter himself, born after or before his time—the possessor of a very fine legal mind—would have made a great Justice on Canada’s own Supreme Court. But that was in the Old Canada; not the New, where our highest bench is warmed, for the most part, by petty-minded mediocrities, who are chosen largely for their fashionable adherence to the ideological bubbles of the day.
Yet with the abandonment of the legislative role of our Parliament (on the abortion issue, and most others of a controversial nature), it is upon the superior and supreme courts we now rely for the only remedies we can hope from the bureaucratic proliferation of kangaroo courts—“human rights” tribunals and the like—staffed by truly frightful people, whose ideological frothings are neither subtle nor fully sane.
We have seen lately what happens when “human rights” commissions turn themselves loose on rightwing journalists and the periodicals that publish them, from Maclean’s magazine, down. We seldom see reported the myriad small decisions, in which defenceless little people are hauled before the tribunals, stripped of all due process, ground down and destroyed both financially and spiritually.
In the course of this last grim week, the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty quietly announced a huge expansion of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, giving its apparatchiks enhanced powers of intrusion, removing the cap on fines, providing a new class of lawyers to assist in prosecutions, and opening 22 new “hearing and mediation rooms” around the province where these star chambers will conduct their quasi-legal proceedings.
As a writer who does not subscribe to the “politically correct” ideology, it is reasonable to expect that, sooner or later, they will come for me. Of course I also realize that, in making this statement, I will be mocked by the usual leftwing jackals. But in light of what has already happened in this province and country, my assertion is reasonable. Moreover, I write with the sincerity of a man who has already tasted the New Canadian tyranny, and the threat of imprisonment without due process, under the feminist rewrite of Ontario family law.
I was born a free citizen of the Old Canada, and before her God I declare, that I will go to jail rather than acknowledge the legitimacy of any “human rights” commission. I invite other journalists and indeed, every other Canadian, to declare likewise.