Pearl Eliades on HRCs in the news:
Ontario's Superior Court of Justice ruled on Nov. 18 that Giacomo Vigna, a lawyer for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, had been defamed by blogger Ezra Levant. According to the Court, Levant was on a campaign to discredit human rights commissions.
While that was in itself not inherently problematic from the perspective of the libel case, seeking to achieve that goal by defaming others was not a lawful objective. The court said that Levant showed "reckless disregard" for the truth in publishing the posts in question.
This does not make the Superior Court of Justice a "censor." What it does is to remove the "rights-shield" from defamatory speech, thus protecting Vigna's rights and, for that matter, the rights of anyone similarly situated. The point, to borrow a phrase, is that people's reputations and rights should not become roadkill on the path to free speech.
It is completely unacceptable that commission staff in Canada and human rights defenders here or anywhere else should be harassed, defamed and threatened simply for doing their jobs. Having worked in and with commissions before (and, by the way, having also represented respondents), I am acutely aware of the foibles and limitations of these institutions. But this does not justify the inaccuracy and lack of fairness to which they and their staffs have been subjected.
And lets just repeat: the Vigna defamation case was triggered as a result of White Nationalists leaving him phone threats and following tribunal security staff to their homes after a Warman V. Lemire-related hearing. This was something that none of the reporters who covered the defamation case that followed even bothered to mention until the judge's ruling made it impossible to ignore.
There's a pattern here, also illustrated in NP's coverage of the "hacked wifi" incident. Any allegation against the CHRC, however ridiculous, was treated seriously. Any news that cast the HRC staffers in a better light was judiciously ignored.