“F” stands for “Free Dominion”.
That is what Dr. Michael Geist wrote in his ‘internet freedom countdown’.
“F” could just as easily could have stood for “Fournier” – as in Connie and Mark Fournier, who have done more for the freedom of speech and freedom on the Internet than any other Canadians. And this time, I am not using hyperbole!
20 years to the day and in the very building I had signed my marriage license, I came to observe and blog about a court case involving Free Dominion: Connie and Mark Fournier. It was a civil case involving anonymity on the internet and both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Dr. Geist’s Electronic Frontier Foundation were intervenors in the case. Having heard of the latter two and considering any court case they both thought important enough to intervene in to definitely have a significant impact on my own internet and speech freedoms, I came to spectate. (OK – I have to admit – I am a Geist ‘acolyte’.)
While following this particular case and many, many more, I came to deeply admire Connie and Mark. Over the years, they have made significant impact on the evolution of our speech and internet rights, always from a deeply principled perspective.
Now, before you get the idea that I agree with Connie and Mark’s political views, let me stop you right there. They are social conservatives who come from a Christian perspective. I am a libertarian, just this side of turning into an-cap. And a militant ignostic as well as a registered Kopimist.
Despite the greatly different views we hold on a myriad of topics, I came to like and deeply respect the Fourniers. Even when we discussed topics we disagreed on, they were respectful and principled and debating things with them has always been a pleasure.
Full disclosure: the one principle both the Fourniers and I completely and totally agree on – and it is perhaps the most important principle of them all – is the importance of freedom of speech.
I came to understanding the true and essential need for freedom of speech as the cornerstone of our civilization and the internet as the vehicle through which it is anonymously and effectively delivered because I was not only born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I was also born the daughter of a political dissident. Perhaps because of this, I learned early on that without the freedom to criticize and ridicule political and religious ideologies and figures, you lose the means of defending all your other rights and freedoms. And while I don’t know the route that brought Connie and Mark to the same conclusions, it is a demonstrated fact that they have not only lived by that principle, they have sacrificed all to preserve freedom of speech in Canada (and, by extension, all Magna Carta countries) and have put their financial and physical security – their very well being on the line to protect anonymous speech (in their case, on the internet), which is so very crucial in preventing the abrogation of free speech in public spaces.
OK – I have now sketched in the background so that you, my dear reader, are aware of what I know, think and whatever prejudices I may have regarding my review of Connie Fournier’s new book: ‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’.
One more thing before I start: here is a most excellent review of the book by Jay Currie (and, no, I did not read his review before I had made my own mind up). The comments are excellent!
‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’ by Connie Fournier is a truly scary book.
Connie Fournier is both intelligent and eloquent and has the skill to line the little pearls up, one by one, till they form a brilliant necklace – or an effective noose…
Yes, I saw a part of the journey that Connie so accurately describes in her book – but I truly only saw a small part. Yet, step by step, event by event, convoluted happening by convoluted happening, she lights the path and puts forward some very convincing evidence that points not just to the corruption of our ‘progressive’ leaning bureaucracy but also demonstrated how the Harper ‘iron fist’ is affecting things behind the scenes (whether through direct action or through carefully selective inaction). Limited by the legal rulings still muzzling her, she succeeds in getting the important points across in a logical, accurate and believable manner.
This book has bought into focus the consistency with which the Harper government has sought to control, regulate and stifle internet communication. The book stops before the Trans Pacific Trade Treaty – again, a Harper government ‘baby’, the leaks about which prove the veracity of everything else written in the book.
Yes, I would recommend it as a read – even though I disagree with Connie’s conclusion that the Green Party would be the natural place to cast a protest vote for. No – I think the Pirate Party of Canada is a much better candidate, as their abid opposition to Bill C-51 is coupled with opposition to copyright consumer right abuses that the TPTT imposes as a supra-national law. If there is no Pirate Party candidate in your riding, please, do consider running for them. If my health were better, I most certainly would do my best to try to run for them!
But, again, I digress…
This is an important book to read for everyone who understands the crucial role freedom of speech plays and who would like help navigating the legal jungle of bills and attempts to deny it to us, the citizens – especially as it relates to the electronic medium.
Whether neo-Con or not, this book will open your eyes to the systematic process that is already in place to persecute political foes of the party in power and is written in such an accessible way that even non-techies will understand the implications of the proposed muzzling legislation coming from Harper’s ‘Conservative’ government.
Everyone of my relatives and friends will be getting a copy from me!