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Canada Ranked Ahead of the United States in Protection for Property Rights:

Various libertarian and libertarian-leaning bloggers are disappointed that Canada (7th) ranks ahead of the United States (8th) in the latest Cato/Fraser Institute economic freedom rankings. In reality, the difference between Canada's score (8.05 on a 10 point scale) and ours (8.04) is statistically insignificant. However, it probably is the case that Canada - as well as several other nations that rank ahead of us in the Cato/Fraser study - really has equalled or surpassed the United States in economic freedom, thanks to the massive expansion of government in the Bush era of "big government conservatism." As the individual country data sets in the Cato/Fraser study reveal (the US data is on pg. 177), the United States ranked 2nd in 2000 and 4th in 1995, the last two pre-Bush era rankings.

Also interesting are America's scores in specific categories of economic freedom that the Cato/Fraser study aggregates into the overall ranking. One important category where the United States (7.58) trails Canada (8.47) by a large margin is "protection of property rights." I haven't closely analyzed the methodology Cato and Fraser used to compile these numbers; so it is possible that they are the result of some sort of methodological error. However, I suspect that the two rankings are roughly accurate. Compared to the United States, Canadian authorities pay higher compensation to property owners whose land has been taken by eminent domain. In theory, the United States Constitution provides more extensive protection for property rights than Canada's does; in practice, however, property rights continue to the be the "poor relation" of constitutional law and rarely get more than a bare minimum of protection from the Supreme Court. Finally, I suspect that Canadian provincial and local governments don't condemn property for "economic development" and "blight" alleviation as often as their American equivalents. Certainly, there are few if any Canadian takings comparable in scope to cases like Poletown.

I have not studied Canadian property rights law and policy in detail, so these tentative conclusions are based on limited knowledge. I welcome correction from Canadian property scholars and others with relevant expertise. Also, it's worth noting that there is wide variation between American states in the degree to which they protect property owners; the best American states are probably well ahead of the Canadian average. Subject to these important caveats, however, I fear that our oft-maligned neighbor to the North really does do a better job of protecting property rights than we in the US of A. The True North isn't always "strong and free." But its property owners may enjoy stronger legal protection and greater freedom than ours do.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST WATCH: I suppose I should mention that I am a Cato Institute adjunct scholar (an unpaid, purely honorary, position). I didn't have any role in writing Economic Freedom in the World.

Dave N (mail):
Yes, but our free speech rights have more protection. And frankly, though I think property rights are important, I think the rights found in the First Amendment are even more so.
9.19.2008 6:11pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
How do the Cato/Fraser rankings compare to the rankings at freedomhouse.org?

I heard McCain suggest (like I believe Jonah Goldberg once suggested) that a new international organization should be created - a "League of Democracies" or something similar.

This would be an international body with more legitimacy to discuss and possibly authorize international actions - rather than the UN. (The last time I heard it discussed, a majority of the UN's members were still dictatorships). This being the case, a vote for action by the UN is inherently illegitimate.

Based on the above, I've been curious how membership in a League of Democracies would be determined. I hope that the focus would not be on nominal democracy (see, e.g., Russia), but on actual freedom. If that were the case, rankings from Cato/Fraser and/or Freedomhouse.org could be used to gain membership. An international body of true free-market democracies to discuss international affairs would be such a good idea I'd be pleasantly surprised if it ever happened. But this suggestion is one clear reason to support the McCain candidacy.
9.19.2008 6:12pm
Ilya Somin:
How do the Cato/Fraser rankings compare to the rankings at freedomhouse.org?

The Freedom House rankings only consider "political freedom" and do not include economic liberties or property rights - the focus of the Cato-Fraser ranking.
9.19.2008 6:17pm
Steven Joyce (mail):
Pet Peeve alert.

You write that the score difference is "statistically insignificant," but that's not what you mean. A difference is statistically insignificant when the variability due to random sampling is large relative to the magnitude of the difference. Since these scores were not generated by random sampling (i.e., the scores are not statistics), it's impossible for their difference to be statistically significant or statistically insignificant. Typically, when a difference is small in magnitude, we call it "insubstantial," regardless of whether it is statistically significant, statistically insignificant, or simply not a statistic.

(This assumes a Frequentist perspective. If you take a Bayesian approach, the problems with your statement are even more severe.)
9.19.2008 6:23pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
I wonder how important in this measurement of economic freedom is the freedom to spend one's money on private medical care?
9.19.2008 6:46pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Heritage puts the US 5th in its 2008 Economic Freedom Index.
9.19.2008 7:17pm
dearieme:
I detect a defensive tone.
9.19.2008 7:55pm
trad and anon (mail):
These rankings have some odd components. The top marginal income tax rate is weighted in the ranking, but the other rates (the ones that affect the vast majority of people) are not. Their reasoning for how size of government constitutes less economic freedom is also weak. Most of the other things included in the index make sense though.
9.19.2008 8:17pm
frankcross (mail):
Ilya, that category scoring actually doesn't have so much to do with property rights per se. It is heavily weighted to assessments of the quality of the overall judicial system, based on surveys of international business people and experts. This is really a general criticism of our courts (probably mostly state courts) rather than substantive policies.
9.19.2008 8:18pm
T Hart:
I wonder how important in this measurement of economic freedom is the freedom to not have one's tax money spent on bailing out investment banks because we didn't learn the dangers of deregulation from the 20's?
9.19.2008 9:06pm
Repeal 16-17 (mail):
I heard McCain suggest (like I believe Jonah Goldberg once suggested) that a new international organization should be created - a "League of Democracies" or something similar.

How would "Democracies" be defined? Would Russia count as a democracy?
9.19.2008 10:33pm
bobby b (mail):
As long as Canadians do not count firearms as personal property, I imagine they score respectably.
9.19.2008 10:41pm
hey (mail):
Canada loses on guns and speech (though the most egregious speech issues are being resolved thanks to media pressure) but is better in terms of torts and eminent domain. It's odd because the government has much more formal power to interfere with property, it just doesn't use that power frequently, giving higher effective protection.

One issue that is a serious problem for business owners in Toronto is the lack of compensation due to transit construction. Streetcar refurbishment and right of way construction can block traffic and seize multiple lanes from major streets with no compensation to businesses. Accessibility can be dramatically impeded over the long term and completely halted in the medium term at no cost to the city. Offloading these costs onto businesses is the only way that streetcars appear to be cheaper than subways in terms of construction costs. This is a serious weak link in property right and a travesty that stems from public ownership of transit companies.
9.19.2008 11:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
I wonder how important in this measurement of economic freedom is the freedom to spend one's money on private medical care?

Canadians are free to do that.
9.20.2008 1:42am
Cornellian (mail):
Canada loses on guns and speech (though the most egregious speech issues are being resolved thanks to media pressure) but is better in terms of torts and eminent domain. It's odd because the government has much more formal power to interfere with property, it just doesn't use that power frequently, giving higher effective protection.

And just to expand on the tort point a bit, Canadian jurisdictions have always had the holy grail of U.S. tort reform - loser pays attorney's fees. It's one of the major reasons (not the only one) why your property in Canada doesn't face anywhere near the degree of risk of being destroyed by some bogus tort lawsuit that property on this side of the border faces.
9.20.2008 1:45am
Cornellian (mail):
I heard McCain suggest (like I believe Jonah Goldberg once suggested) that a new international organization should be created - a "League of Democracies" or something similar.

Obviously the definition is going to require a certain amount of thought and careful drafting, since democracy is a matter of degree. I've long held a similar view myself. Make it a club that people want to get into, like the EU, and you'll create pressure on non-democracies to reform.
9.20.2008 1:48am
LTEC (mail) (www):
Cornellian --

No, you are wrong. For a number of decades now, in most parts of Canada, most private medical care has been illegal. Optional things like cosmetic surgery exists privately. But stuff like MRIs and cancer treatment and the stuff that matters most -- precisely because it matters most -- is not allowed to exist privately. This may be slowly (very slowly) changing in one province. According to the New York Times:
Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years in discomfort before receiving treatment.
And the private hospitals -- at least in Ontario -- that this article predicted have not happened.
9.20.2008 2:20am
Cornellian (mail):
No, you are wrong. For a number of decades now, in most parts of Canada, most private medical care has been illegal. Optional things like cosmetic surgery exists privately. But stuff like MRIs and cancer treatment and the stuff that matters most -- precisely because it matters most -- is not allowed to exist privately.

Private medical care is not prohibited in Canada. Rather, medical providers cannot provide both private medical care and participate in the government system. Since nearly all doctors want to participate in the government system, they don't provide private medical care, other than for certain elective procedures not covered by the government system.

Your quote illustrates my point:

Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years in discomfort before receiving treatment.

I'd emphasize the phrase "in a public hospital." It's not prohibited per se, just prohibited for those who participate in the government system.

The other option Canadians always have to to go to the U.S. if they're not getting their MRI fast enough. I'd certainly be willing to do that if I lived in Canada and could save a few months or a few weeks of waiting. In fact, if I were an insurance carrier I'd be up in Canada marketing insurance coverage to Canadians that would allow them to travel to the U.S. for treatment for things not covered by the Canadian system or where the Canadian system isn't fast enough.
9.20.2008 2:37am
LTEC (mail) (www):
It is "prohibited per se". Read the quote and read the article. Or live in Canada.

Of course Canadians have the option of leaving the country to obtain medical care. But the rest of what you say about Canada is just false. The quote shows that, as does the rest of the article. U.S. clinics advertise in Canada and Canadians go there, in spite of the fact that (usually) the government does not provide any subsidy. But the same clinic -- non-subsidized by the government -- does not exist within Canada for the simple reason that it is illegal.
9.20.2008 3:01am
LTEC (mail) (www):
Cornellian --

Oh, I think I see how you misinterpreted the quote I posted. You thought that "accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital" meant that the private operations in question would be done in a public hospital. Rather, the meaning of the quote in context is: "accepting money from patients [in a private clinic] for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital".
9.20.2008 3:23am
JPG:
LTEC, you seem to live in the past. "But the same clinic -- non-subsidized by the government -- does not exist within Canada for the simple reason that it is illegal." This was true in the pre-Chaoulli era, it isn't anymore. I'm sure you can easily document the case instead of relying on a sole article from an... American newspaper.

The private medical system is well alive in Canada, it now works in completion with the public system. My father recently had to rely on both systems for a series of minor orthopedic surgeries, here in Montreal, and no governmental agents in black trenchcoats came to arrest anyone, since it was all done legally.
9.20.2008 4:34am
Joel Snow (mail):
This is just off the top of my head. Granted it was a few decades ago now, but no matter what we might tell you Canadians aren't always nice.
9.20.2008 10:58am
Patrick S Fitzgerald (mail) (www):
What about Canada's Human Rights Commissions?
9.20.2008 11:01am
LTEC (mail) (www):
JPG --

True, I didn't spend a lot of time looking for links. But my experience is that most Canadian papers speak in code such as "single tier vs. dual tier health care" and "allowing a role for the private sector in health care" rather than clearly discussing what is legal. And the two year old NYT article did claim that things were changing. However, I have not heard of clinics such as the one you describe in Ontario. May be I am just behind the times. I hope so.

This is all certainly relevant to "economic freedom". The horrible Canadian "Human Rights Commissions" probably aren't.
9.20.2008 11:43am
Martinus (mail) (www):
Canadian property rights are far inferior in many respects. Having lived next to the Canadian border my entire life, I have been privvy to their internal workings.

Do you know that when someone buys property in Canada, the "Crown" retains the resource rights? People have literally come home from work and found that some company has bought the mineral rights to their land and dug mines in their back yards! No compensation provided to the homeowners, since they never really owned the land under their houses.

You'd have to do a lot more digging to see the exact legal definition of "property rights" in Canada, but they make the US look a hell of a lot better in many of cases.
9.20.2008 11:46am
Cornellian (mail):
LTEC, here's paragraph 4 from Justice Deschamp's option for the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), 2005 SCC 35.

In essence, the question is whether Quebeckers who are prepared to spend money to get access to health care that is, in practice, not accessible in the public sector because of waiting lists may be validly prevented from doing so by the state. For the reasons that follow, I find that the prohibition infringes the right to personal inviolability and that it is not justified by a proper regard for democratic values, public order and the general well‑being of the citizens of Quebec.

And this was a Quebec statute. Not all the other provinces attempted to enact similar prohibitions. Here's paragraph 70:

The approach to the role of the private sector taken by the other nine provinces of Canada is by no means uniform. In addition to Quebec, six other provinces have adopted measures to discourage people from turning to the private sector. The other three, in practice, give their residents free access to the private sector.

Note "discourage" isn't equivalent to "prohibit." See, e.g. paragraph 71:

Ontario (Health Care Accessibility Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.3, s. 2), Nova Scotia (Health Services and Insurance Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 197, s. 29(2)) and Manitoba (Health Services Insurance Act, R.S.M. 1987, c. H35, s. 95(1)) prohibit non‑participating physicians from charging their patients more than what physicians receive from the public plan.
9.20.2008 12:17pm
Cornellian (mail):
What about Canada's Human Rights Commissions?

Not that much different from our EEOCs. Those occasional outlier cases you read about here are just that - outliers. The vast majority of the complaints they get are not that much different from the complaints EEOCs get here (e.g. people claiming that were fired from their job because of their race or some such thing).
9.20.2008 12:19pm
hilmar:
The whole idea of condeming property to force a sale just doesn't exist up here (I live near Vancouver). The government will buy your land when it's needed but that's usually at fair market value. OTOH, there's no inner city ghettos either. Urban land is just too valuable to let it waste away.

Martinus is correct -- resource rights are seperate from the property. In practice it's not a big issue since The Crown still owns 90% of BC and doesn't allow resource extraction in developed areas.
9.20.2008 12:29pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Cornellian --

It's clear from the NYT article and from the decision you cite that private medical care was illegal in BC in 2006 and in Quebec in 2005. And although it's true that " 'discourage' isn't equivalent to 'prohibit' ", "discourage" doesn't rule out "prohibit" either.

Since I haven't read the decision you quoted, can you please tell me the three provinces that "in practice" gave their residents free access to the private sector in 2005? Can you tell me if private care was truly legal in those provinces, or merely tolerated? And can you tell me for how long before 2005 it had been legal -- or if it had always been legal?

Regarding the HRCs: the fact that the majority of their cases may not be repressive of speech, in no way excuses the fact that because of them, free speech is greatly repressed in Canada (compared to the US -- not to Cuba).
9.20.2008 1:06pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'm not an expert in Canadian medicare law by any means so I don't know the ground rules on a province by province basis or how prevalent private health care actually is in any province. I just thought it was an overstatement to say that private health care is illegal or legally prohibited in Canada.

Re the Canadian HRCs, conversely the fact that they have some bad decisions doesn't invalidate the other decisions that they do make. Canada, like the U.S., draws a line beyond which your free speech cannot go, and Canada draws the line a bit differently from the U.S. but it's hardly a country in which one could say there's no right of free speech. It would be more accurate to say that Canada is a country that weighs countervailing considerations against free speech (like one's reputation in a defamation case) a bit more heavily than is the case in the U.S.
9.20.2008 1:19pm
frankcross (mail):
LTEC, you used to be right, in part, but now I think you are wrong. At least some provinces banned private health care. But the Quebec decision, a classical example of judicial activism, found a constitutional right to get private health care.
9.20.2008 1:25pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Regarding Canadian HRCs: people in Canada have been fined and jailed for holocaust denial and for saying that homosexuality is a sin. Whether people will be allowed to say bad things about Islam or print cartoons of the "prophet" remains to be seen -- certainly those people have had to spend a lot of money to even hope to avoid being fined or jailed. This is NOT "drawing the line a bit differently from the U.S." and has nothing to do with "one's reputation in a defamation case". According Dean Steacy, a principal "anti-hate" investigator of the HRC: "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."

Regarding private health care in Canada:
I don't know what effect the Quebec decision had in Ontario, but it certainly did not cause private health care to become legal in Ontario. It does appear that more private care is being tolerated by the province, but only tolerated. Just last month, the Ottawa Citizen asked: "Should the province of Ontario allow private MRI clinics?"
9.20.2008 1:53pm
Cornellian (mail):
But the Quebec decision, a classical example of judicial activism, found a constitutional right to get private health care.

It's not clear to me that that was a case of "judicial activism." If you have a right to "security of the person" and the government effectively prohibits you from obtaining treatment for a serious health problem it's hardly frivolous to say that the statute in question has jeopardized the security of your person. I'm not saying that the decision is correct, I'm just saying that slapping an automatic "judicial activism" label on it is not a fair characterization.

To put things more generally, there are an infinite number of ways in which a government might theoretically threaten your security of the person. If a government takes one of those actions, call it "X" and a court later declares X unconstitutional, it takes more to sustain a judicial activism label then to say that a court "found a right to X" that isn't in the constitution.
9.20.2008 2:29pm
Cornellian (mail):
Regarding Canadian HRCs: people in Canada have been fined and jailed for holocaust denial and for saying that homosexuality is a sin.

Cite the case where anyone has ever gone to jail in Canada for violating some human rights statute by saying that homosexuality was a sin. I'm not aware of any such case.

Is there any human rights statute in Canada that even provides for imprisonment for anything other than procedural matters like ignoring a subpoena?
9.20.2008 2:33pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Cornellian --

I believe that the first penalty meted out by the Canadian HRC usually is just a fine, a mandatory apology, and/or a mandatory lifetime vow of silence; if these are violated, then you will go to jail. I'm pretty sure this has happened, but I couldn't find a link. You got me. Certainly most of the time the victim does what he is told, doesn't go to jail (like he would in Germany for holocaust denial), so ... what was the point again? Also
Zundel, who has lived in Canada since 1958, fled to Tennessee to be with his wife before a January 2002 ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Commission that a website he controls spreads anti-Semitic messages. He remains in solitary confinement at Toronto's Metro West Detention Centre.
But his imprisonment was related to immigration issues -- he is considered a danger, but only because of the HRC conviction.

An interesting case is described here. Stephen Boission wrote a letter to the editor saying bad things about homosexuality. He was fined $5000, forced to apologize, and ordered to
cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.
But no, he hasn't yet been sent to jail yet.

For decades most Canadians didn't care about the HRCs, since they only went after crazy holocaust deniers and pastors. Now they are going after critics and mockers of Islam, and many more people are concerned.
9.20.2008 4:10pm
Katl L (mail):
sure, sure
9.20.2008 5:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
LTEC,

As you've said, neither of those cases was a situation in which someone went to jail for saying homosexuality was a sin. I'm not aware of any such case ever occurring in Canada.

Calling Boisson's letter "bad things about homosexuality" is a euphemism to put it mildly. The content of the letter would undoubtedly have been defamatory if directed at a particular individual.

Here in the U.S. if you defame a public person, you can be sued successfully for libel if the plaintiff demonstrates you acted with actual malice. That's an infringement on the defendant's freedom of speech. The standard for liability is even lower for a non-public person. The fact that we recognize a restriction on freedom of speech in the form of libel doesn't mean freedom of speech doesn't exist here. Canada draws the line differently than in the U.S. and certain forms of speech are actionable there that are not actionable here and directing that speech against a group rather than an individual probably gets you more of a safety margin in the U.S. than in Canada but the fact that that line is drawn differently doesn't mean freedom of speech doesn't exist in Canada or is in some kind of imminent jeopardy.

We're talking about a situation where the U.S. suppresses something like 5% of speech while Canada suppresses 10%. While my preference is more towards the U.S. approach, I can't get all that worked up about the Canadian approach.

All this sort of reminds of the way Canadians tend to view crime in the U.S. To a lot of Canadians, U.S. cities are cesspools of violent crime. The reality on the ground is a lot different than how it looks from the outside. Americans have an exaggerated view of things like Canadian health care and human rights law, just like Canadians have an exaggerated view of America's crime rate and gun laws.
9.20.2008 6:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
Interestingly that Boissoin decision was described by Ezra Levant (in the article you link to) as

"the most revolting order I have ever seen in Canada. Ever."

He also throws in, for good measure, some gratuitous attacks on the character and qualifications of the person who rendered the decision.

Levant is a pretty hard core critic of Canadian human rights law so while I don't think it's a good decision, if that's the "most revolting order" Levant has ever seen in Canada, then speech is still pretty free in Canada, if not as free as it is here.
9.20.2008 6:28pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
So Cornellian is content because I have been unable to find a link about a Canadian going to jail for saying bad things about homosexuality. He is content that if Boisson goes to jail for not paying his fine, or for stating his views on the internet or in an email to a friend, he will possibly be sent there not by the HRT but by another government organization enforcing the HRT ruling. And he is content because Boisson did say some bad things that "would undoubtedly have been defamatory if directed at a particular individual", even though they weren't, and even though his letter although stupid and nasty, was in no way defamatory in the U.S. sense. He is apparently content that one can be jailed for holocaust denial, and that people are on trial for criticizing Islam and for showing cartoons of the "prophet".

He is not content, however, that Levant used the superlative "the most revolting"; I agree, and I think Levant should have said "one of the most revolting". He is shocked that Levant would criticize the character and qualifications of the person who rendered the extremely revolting decision. (Who ever heard of someone criticizing the character or qualifications of a judge or politician who makes a revolting decision?)

Unlike crime, it is difficult to measure the differing amounts of freedom of speech between Canada and the U.S. . I think the difference is large. But even if one thinks it is less large, if one is really not content with the Canadian model, why go after me and Levant for silly reasons rather than join us in attacking the HRTs?
9.20.2008 7:43pm
grendel:
I have spent a good part of my life living near the US/Canadian border. I have lived on both sides. I currently live on the Canadian side, in BC. I practice law here. In my first hand experience free speech is essentially live and well here in the Great White North. I concur with the previous opinion -- both the US and Canada may draw the line between permitted and prohibited speech a bit differently, but I have not noticed speech in practical terms being any less free here than in the US.

Regarding health care, Canadians are quick to criticize the system here, but few would trade it for the US system. But almost any objective measure, life expectancy, infant mortality, heart attack survival rates, you name it, Canada scores better than the US. It seems a common presumption among Americans that Canadian health care is vastly inferior to health care in the US, but it just is not so. Yes, there is plenty of room for improvement, but things are pretty good up here.

Skeptics might want to take a look where Canada falls in the Human Development rankings:
9.20.2008 8:17pm
grendel:
ok -- hit post a little too soon

here is a link:



the Human Development Index is a normalized measure of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment, and GDP per capita for countries around the world.

Last year Canada ranked 4 -- well ahead of the US. Since 1980 Canada has ranked first ten times, more than any other country. The US has never ranked first.

Things are not so bad here as some in the US would have you believe.
9.20.2008 8:23pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
I never addressed the issue of whether Canada or the U.S has the better health care system; or rather, which one has the worse system. I merely said Canada's system imposes a restriction on economic freedom (and I'm not referring to taxes). If Canada continues in the direction of legalizing private medical care, then I would definitely prefer the Canadian system.

Regarding freedom of speech: I can understand that grendel doesn't care about right-wing nuts not having any freedom of speech. But does grendel really see only "a bit of a difference" when Macleans and Steyn and Levant are put on trial for upsetting Islamic extremists? Perhaps he(?) is only concerned about his own free speech in practice. In this case, my guess is that his own (law) practice puts more constraints on his speech than the government does.
9.20.2008 8:41pm
grendel:
I am not sure what to make of your last comments, LTEC. I see an inidivual in the US is being prosecuted for flag defamation. Such a thing could never happen in Canada. I guess that proves Canada is a bastion of freedom and the US a police state where people are haunted by a fear of a knock in the night. All I am saying is that claims Canadians do not have real and substantial freedom of speech grossly distort the reality of the situation, and tend to ignore freedom of speech issues in the US.

Besides, according to The Economist (no hotbed of socialism) Canada is a freer country the US anyway. Check out their "Democracy Index" were Canada ranks in the top 10 and the US, once again, does not:

9.20.2008 10:45pm
Sebastian (mail) (www):
Flag burning is protected by the First Amendment, which is why conservative lawmakers keep beating on the Flag Burning Amendment drum when it suits them.
9.20.2008 11:03pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
According to Eugene Volokh, the appalling flag prosecution "appears to be legally frivolous". That is, it is an outlier, and cannot succeed. This is settled law. The prosecutions of the holocaust deniers and anti-homosexuals in Canada have succeeded and will continue. Zundel's website was shut down by the government. The prosecutions of anti-Islamists is ongoing.

If you want to look at serious freedom of speech issues in the U.S., you should look at "campaign finance reform". This is terrible, and it would be interesting to compare it with the equivalent thing in Canada, if it exists. Bad as it is, at least U.S. "campaign finance reform" is neutral as to the nature of the political advocacy. Canadian hate-speech laws seem to target in practice only those the left opposes -- not all, but only.

In any case, as long as we are both appalled by anti-flag burning laws and by anti-hate-speech laws and by the American "campaign finance reform" and the Canadian HRTs, it really matters very little how we weigh one set of abuses over the other.

But the people arguing against me seem more upset by me and Levant than the HRCs, and somehow seem more like apologists for the HRCs than appalled opponents. Why can't one of you say -- if you truly believe it -- "yes, the HRCs are awful, but ..." and then explain why their effect is fortunately not too great.
9.20.2008 11:13pm
Cornellian (mail):
So Cornellian is content because I have been unable to find a link about a Canadian going to jail for saying bad things about homosexuality.

Content in so far as I wanted to make the point that, so far as I am aware, no one in Canada has ever gone to jail for "saying bad things about homosexuality."

He is content that if Boisson goes to jail for not paying his fine, or for stating his views on the internet or in an email to a friend, he will possibly be sent there not by the HRT but by another government organization enforcing the HRT ruling.

I have no idea whether he will go to jail for failing to pay the fine or even if that's a possible outcome.

And he is content because Boisson did say some bad things that "would undoubtedly have been defamatory if directed at a particular individual", even though they weren't, and even though his letter although stupid and nasty, was in no way defamatory in the U.S. sense.

Calling you a pedophile wouldn't be defamatory? That's what Boissoin was saying about gay people.

He is apparently content that one can be jailed for holocaust denial, and that people are on trial for criticizing Islam and for showing cartoons of the "prophet".

Actually Irving going to jail for Holocaust denial in Austria is a better example since Zundel didn't go to jail for that but for immigration issues (at least that's what you said earlier). Besides, Irving had some legitimate scholarly credentials whereas Zundel was just a crank. Am I "content" with Irving going to jail? That wouldn't be my preferred state of affairs but there are plenty of issues here in the U.S. to engage my attention without having to go abroad.

He is not content, however, that Levant used the superlative "the most revolting"; I agree, and I think Levant should have said "one of the most revolting".

I'm fine with Levant calling the Boission result the worst he's ever seen, if that's what he thinks. Just making the point that if that's the worst he's ever seen, then the rest of it probably isn't all that bad.

He is shocked that Levant would criticize the character and qualifications of the person who rendered the extremely revolting decision.

Not shocked - that seems to be Levant's style but mocking the judge for being a divorce attorney before being appointed to the Commission was just a cheap shot. That doesn't make her unqualified.

if one is really not content with the Canadian model, why go after me and Levant for silly reasons rather than join us in attacking the HRTs?

I didn't think I was "going after you" or Levant for any reason, silly or non-silly.
9.20.2008 11:21pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
So maybe Boisson is free to completely ignore the punishment of the HRT -- maybe he doesn't have to pay the fine and maybe he can keep saying the same things as before -- we really don't know, do we?

Where is the outrage at the HRT?

And do we really have to discuss what Boisson said in his stupid letter? This is what we've come to? (Okay, take a deep breath, here we go.) You imply that he implied that all homosexuals are pedophiles. You find this important, since if he had said it -- falsely -- about a particular individual, then U.S. law would allow a defamation law suit, which is somehow relevant even thought the HRT was not concerned much with defamation. But did he imply this? I don't see it in his letter; since we've come to this, if I've missed it, please show me where. I do see that he complains about NAMBLA, who are pedophiles, but does not claim that all homosexuals support NAMBLA. He says:
It is only a matter of time before some of these morally bankrupt individuals such as those involved with NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Lovers Association, will achieve their goal to have sexual relations with children ...
The emphasis I've added makes is clear that not all of the "enemy" is in NAMBLA.

Because you fail to show outrage at the HRTs, I'm reduced to performing a close textual reading of this moron.
9.20.2008 11:54pm
JPG:
LTEC wrote: The prosecutions of anti-Islamists is ongoing.


Well, considering the only cases I am aware of - Levant and MacLean's - have both been dismissed by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I believe you are refering to a bunch of cases hording the courts I may not have heard of?

I fear the biggest issue in regards to censorship is not directly related to law books. Instead, most MSM are more than ever managed in a way not to disturb its sponsors. And the situation, regretably, is of the same nature, if not worse, in the US as in Canada. In other words, lobbies/publicists are to raise greater concern regarding free speech than tribunals.

Experience suggests hate speech prosecutions are being cautiously held as an extreme measure to extreme cases, as self-censorship, dictated by corporatist elites, is an everyday reality.
9.21.2008 3:26pm