Connie and Mark Fournier are the founders and operators of Free Dominion, Canada’s first and best known ‘little c’ conservative discussion forum. As such, they have been in the forefront of the battles for freedom of speech and against ‘Section 13’ of the Human Rights Code, which criminilizes any speech which might, potentially, hurt someone’s feelings.
Of course, as per ‘Xanthippa’s first law of human dynamics’ (any rule and/or law will, eventually, be pushed to its extreme and abused/applied in ways the drafters never imagined), ‘Section 13’ became abused, had 100% conviction rate, and ‘truth’ was no defense….
Alas, passing laws is much easier than repealing them, which is why it took so long, and was such a difficult battle.
It is natural, therefore, that I sought an interview with Connie Fournier on the occasion of the fall of ‘Section 13’. Connie graciously agreed. Here is the interview:
Q: How did you feel when you heard that Bill C-304, which strikes down the infamous ‘Section 13’, had passed the final reading in the Senate and received Royal Assent, making it a law?A: We are just talking about how both of us are having a hard time believing it is real. We have fought against Section 13 so hard for so long that it is hard to believe that we actually won! Obviously, though, we are ecstatic.Q: What impact do you think this will make on the political discussion in Canada?A: We are hoping that it will make people less afraid to discuss controversial issues. We have always believed that the best way for Canadians to deal with their differences is for them to be able to discuss them openly. When you have a potential legal threat hanging over your head if someone decides your words are capable of making someone uncomfortable, it has a major chilling effect on discussion…especially political discussion, which is heated at the best of times. When you add to that the effect of having a third party starting these actions as his own personal crusade, you have real problems.Q: Do you think that your legal situation will be impacted by this and if so, how?A: When it comes to the defamation suits that Richard Warman has filed against us, this is very important. When someone claims damages for defamation, they have to demonstrate that they had a good reputation that was unfairly damaged as a result of the words of the defendents. In this case, the plaintiff’s actions have now directly resulted in two governments (the Federal government and the BC government) having to enact legislation to protect the public from him. (BC Libraries and Bill C-304…I can provide more info if you need it) This is a direct reflection on his reputation.Q: Do you think this will lead to eventual de-funding and/or dismantling of the quasi-judicial Human Rights Commissions/Tribunals in favour of trials in real courts with proper legal procedures?A: I wouldn’t be surprised if this resulted in such a move. Hopefully the first thing that will happen, though, is for provincial HRCs to follow suit and repeal their own versions of Section 13.Q: Anything else you’d like to say on the topic?A: The defenders of censorship are wailing that the repeal of Section 13 will result in an explosion of hatred around the country. I think it is good to note that Section 13 cases have been stayed since the Hadjis decision, and this threat has not materialized. Canadians are polite and decent people and we are quite capable of dealing with the handful of internet racists among us by out-arguing them. We do not need CHRC employees to snoop around our sites or, worse, post hateful messages as “bait”. We are very thankful to Brian Storseth for putting forward a private member’s bill that acknowledges that Canadians are reasonable and intelligent adults.