Some 900 days after I became the only person in the Western world charged with the “offence” of republishing the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, the government has finally acquitted me of illegal “discrimination.” Taxpayers are out more than $500,000 for an investigation that involved fifteen bureaucrats at the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The legal cost to me and the now-defunct Western Standard magazine is $100,000.
And if I had been a defendant in a civil court, the judge would now order the losing parties to pay my legal bills. Instead, the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities won’t have to pay me a dime. Neither will Syed Soharwardy, the Calgary imam who abandoned his identical complaint against me this spring.
Both managed to hijack a secular government agency to prosecute their radical Islamic fatwa against me — the first blasphemy case in Canada in over 80 years. Their complaints were dismissed, but it is inaccurate to say that they lost: They got the government to rough me up for nearly three years, at no cost to them. The process I was put through was a punishment in itself — and a warning to any other journalists who would defy radical Islam.
Of course I’m glad to be done with this malicious prosecution — though my antagonists can still appeal my acquittal.
But two years ago, the HRC told me if I paid a few thousand dollars to my accusers and gave them a page in our magazine, I’d be set free. Most victims of the HRCs accept deals like that, and it’s certainly cheaper than a 900-day fight. But getting the approval of the HRC’s censor is morally no better than their shake-down attempt. Whether I have to pay off a radical imam or appease a meddling bureaucrat, it’s still an infringement on our Canadian liberties.