I wasn't, alas, able to make it the Chamber to witness the opening salvo from Senator Doug Finley on "the erosion of freedom of speech" in Canada, but I did manage to keep one ear tuned to the audio feed, and as soon as it was up, I went straight to the official transcript
to find highlights suitable of posting, if only as part of my lonely but relentless campaign to convince the vast majority of my fellow Canadians that the Senate can be every bit as lively as the House of Commons, depending on the day.
To begin with, Finley's opening speech was filled to overflowing with the colour and flourish for which he has -- actually, come to think of it, never really been known, what with being a shadowy background character until his ascension to the Upper House.
"Censorship," he intoned to fellow senators in his dulcet Scottish tones, "reared its ugly head" at Ann Coulter's ultimately aborted appearance
at the University of Ottawa last week, as "an unruly mob of nearly 1,000 people, some of whom had publicly mused about assaulting her, succeeded in shutting down her lecture after overwhelmed police said they could not guarantee her safety."
After his introductory remarks had drawn to a applause-generating close, the debate -- yes, as it turned out, there actually was
a debate -- got underway.
One of the first senators to rise during questions and comments was former Chretien chief of staff Percy Downe, who wondered whether, given his impassioned defence of Coulter, Finley believed that the government "has made a mistake by restricting people who want to come to Canada to speak by not allowing them entrance to the country?"
Finley's response, and Downe's rejoinder, and much much more after the jump: