Catholic Insight ordeal not over yet

Complainant appeals CHRC’s dismissal of case against magazine

Canada’s human rights industry has resumed its persecution of Catholic Insight, a magazine edited by former Interim editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk. On July 31, Rob Wells requested a formal judicial review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s dismissal of his complaint against the magazine.

The commission had spent 16 months investigating de Valk and Catholic Insight for publishing articles allegedly hateful toward homosexuals. De Valk countered that the magazine simply presented Catholic teaching. “We love the sinner but hate the sin,” he said.

The commission notified de Valk on July 4 that it was dropping its investigation, but not before his publication was forced to spend about $20,000 in legal fees defending itself. The commission said it did not find CI’s articles likely to promote hate, nor did they violate the human rights of homosexuals. Wells was given 30 days to request a judicial review of the commission’s decision.

Wells is a well-known homosexual activist and a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Pride Centre of Edmonton.

News of Wells’s appeal was broken by Blazing Cat Fur, a Canadian blogger who maintains a website popular among critics of the commission. The anonymous blogger directed readers to the federal court docket where the request for judicial review was filed. The court’s website confirmed receipt of the notice of application on July 31. The docket also contained entries for August 6, noting that the complainant had subsequently filed two motions and sworn three affidavits relating to the case. Thus, the process is proceeding for judicial review.

De Valk had not been notified by the court when he first became aware of Wells’s appeal. The priest found out after The Wanderer, America’s oldest weekly Catholic newspaper, contacted him for comment.

“I’m very disappointed if I have to go through this again,” he said.

“But at least Mr. Wells has to pay his own legal fees this time around, if I am not mistaken.”

The priest was alluding to the fact that Canada’s human rights commissions pick up the initial legal costs of complainants, while the accused are forced to fend for themselves.

Neither de Valk nor Catholic Insight will be dissuaded from publicly presenting Catholic teaching on social issues, the priest said. “I cannot be silenced and I will not be silenced.”

The commission’s website is strangely silent on how the appeal process works, other than to state the commission’s decision may be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Federal Court can overturn the commission’s decision to abandon the case, although the court’s decision can then be appealed to the Federal Court of Review and subsequently the Supreme Court of Canada, said Ezra Levant, a Calgary lawyer and blogger who has faced his own human rights complaints.

This is not Wells’s first attempt to use Canada’s human rights commissions and tribunals to silence his critics and critics of the homosexual lifestyle. He has previously filed similar human rights complaints against Alberta Christian activist Craig Chandler, as well as the Christian Heritage Party and its leader, Ron Gray. More recently, Wells filed a CHRC complaint against Levant for blogging Pastor Stephen Boissoin’s 2002 letter to the Red Deer Advocate criticizing homosexual activism.

Levant told The Interim he takes no position on same-sex “marriage” itself, but that he has been critical of the process whereby it became law in Canada. Nevertheless, he felt the need to republish Boissoin’s letter because of “the heavy-handed way in which the Alberta tribunal tried to silence (Boissoin).”

Levant found out about Wells’s complaint in mid-August, after receiving a registered letter on CHRC letterhead stating the commission recommended the complaint against him be dismissed.

Nevertheless, the commission’s letter did not identify its author, nor that of any other commission employee, except with an illegible signature.

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