Friday, June 6, 2008 | Categories: Episodes
It's Friday, June 6th.
The U.S. Government is re-opening its investigation into the case of Maher Arar in light of new information that suggests officials might have acted improperly when they deported him to Syria.
Currently, the "new information" is apparently an Oxford Dictionary containing definitions of the word "evidence."
This is The Current.
The Current producer John Chipman brings us the story of Bashir Maktal, a Canadian citizen who's been held in an Ethiopian prison. He was detained in Kenya in late 2006 and flown to Ethiopia on an illegal rendition flight. When John first brought us the story, we believed Mr. Maktal had not been charged with anything or appeared in court. But John has received some new information about Bashir Maktal's case from the Ethiopian Embassy in Ottawa, and he joined us to tell us about it.
Bashir Maktal Case
Maclean's Versus the Canadian Islamic Congress
Legal Representative for Canadian Islamic Congress
The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambitions. The West is growing old and enfeebled, and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it. It's the end of the world as we've known it.
So began an article called The Future Belongs to Islam by columnist Mark Steyn, which appeared in Maclean's magazine in October 2006. And so began a case before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
Four Canadian law students and the Canadian Islamic Congress launched the complaint against Maclean's, arguing that Mr.Steyn's article promoted "hatred and Islamophobia" by suggesting that Muslims are part of a global conspiracy to take over Western societies.
Khurrum Awan is one of four law students who originally launched the complaint against Maclean's and he joined us from Vancouver.
Canada is a country that fiercely protects human rights, but that can be complicated: one person's right to freedom from hate might feel like an infringement on the right to freedom of expression to someone else. And according to Maclean's magazine, the very act of hearing this case put a chill on the right to free debate in Canada. Andrew Coyne is a columnist with Maclean's magazine and blogged from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in Vancouver.
Head of Ontario Human Rights Commission - Barbara Hall
The Ontario Human Rights Commission ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the complaint against Maclean's. But that didn't stopped the head of the commission from expressing her opinion about the case. Barbara Hall is the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and she joined us in Toronto.
Counsel For Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Media outlets weren't the only ones expressing concern about this case and its potential effect on freedom of expression. Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and one of the architects of modern Canadian human rights law joined us in Toronto.
Listen to Part Two:
The parallels between American political landscape 2008 and 1968 are somewhat uncanny. In the 60s, the United States was mired in a foreign war; race and gender issues dominated the political agenda; and Democratic Presidential hopefuls Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy were capturing the imagination of young people and promising to usher in an era of change.
But despite all that, it was Richard Nixon who won the 1968 election, promising to end a decade of social unrest on behalf of "the great silent majority." And with that, the so-called "progressive" movement was largely marginalized.
Tom Hayden was one of the people who defined the political scene back in 1968. He was one of the founders of the influential Students for a Democratic Society and in August of that year, he was arrested for helping organize the anti-war protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He later married Jane Fonda and went to Hanoi to oppose the Vietnam War before being elected to the California State Legislature. By 2008, he was the author of several books and a regular contributor to The Nation magazine.
Tom Hayden joined us from Los Angeles.
Last Word - "My Rights Versus Yours"
Earlier in the show, we looked at the human rights complaint brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress against Maclean's magazine over an article it published about Muslims. The congress said the article promoted "hatred and Islamophobia," while Maclean's said the C.I.C.'s complaint undermined freedom of expression. The case went to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to decide who was right.
We closed the show with what seemed like an appropriate song, My Rights Versus Yours by the Vancouver-based pop band The New Pornographers.
Listen to Part Three: