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Published On: Mon, Feb 13th, 2012

Zach Paikin Not Impressed with Ezra Levant – Take Your Insults Back to the Playground, Ezra! February 13, 2012

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CFN – In a column written this past weekend for the Toronto Sun, author and television host Ezra Levant advanced two questionable assertions. The column follows comments made in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Larry Miller comparing the 1990s Liberal government’s intentions behind establishing a long gun registry to Adolf Hitler’s racist and genocidal policies.

First, Levant compares Nazi suppression of civil liberties and personal freedom in general — and German gun control policies both under Hitler and before him in particular — to Canadian gun control policies. “The lesson is, don’t let the government take away your rights,” he writes, regardless of the intent behind right-limiting legislation.

Levant’s general comparison is — like Miller’s — obscene. To place the limitation of all so-called “rights” in one basket (i.e. to insinuate that Nazi persecution of Jews and other minorities can be compared with regulating firearms) is to trivialize crimes against humanity and hence to insult the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.

Furthermore, according to Levant, apparently it is a fundamental “right” to be able to purchase a firearm without being required to register it, regardless of the consequences that this may have on public safety.

Rights aren’t absolute. The very first section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms notes that rights are subject to “reasonable limits.” Even if it were a right to own an unregistered firearm, perhaps it would be reasonable to limit that right in order to prevent a repeat of the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

Regarding Levant’s second claim, it was not the assertion in itself — that comparing a certain policy of a past Canadian government to Nazi policies in the House of Commons must be permitted, presumably due to reasons concerning free speech — that I found most distasteful. It was that Levant felt he was unable to defend this position without resorting to name-calling.

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who this past week rose in the House of Commons to condemn Miller’s offensive remarks — which, unlike what Levant claims in his article, actually didn’t take note of Hitler’s gun control policies — was accused by Levant as being an “old Liberal hack,” a “doddering old fool,” and “long past his best-before date.” (Full disclosure: I am a member of the board of directors of the Liberal association in the riding that Cotler represents.)

Levant also went on a tirade against Cotler for allegedly ignoring his parliamentary duties and spending too much time defending the rights of pro-democracy activists in authoritarian countries, despite the fact that a simple online search would have informed him that Cotler has in fact been present for at least 79 per cent of votes in the House since the opening of the fall session despite a Conservative campaign to spread misinformation about his impending retirement to his constituents.

In any case, what sort of reasoning is that? Cotler is an internationally-renowned human rights champion, one of Canada’s preeminent international legal scholars, and a man of unquestionable integrity who has done more for his constituents and to advance the causes of international peace and justice than most MPs — or even Canadians — could ever aspire to do. He’s certainly no “hack” or “fool.” But that’s not the point.

As a Liberal, I care about civil discourse. Even though I may disagree with them, I want to see intelligent, articulate conservative and libertarian voices present themselves in the forum of public debate. Such debate allows us to maximize our society’s wealth of knowledge and to create better public policy for Canadians.

Ezra Levant’s attention-seeking behaviour and lack of journalistic professionalism harm both his own cause and the cause of advancing civil discourse in Canada. An author of six books and a holder of a law degree should hold himself to a higher standard.

Follow Zach Paikin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@zpaikin

Best Western Cornwall

Displaying 10 Comments
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  1. Ed says:

    The more people write about Ezra, the more Ezra likes it.
    He’s a very successful professional jerk, and thrives on the outrage that he cultivates.

  2. Richard Komorowski says:

    Ed, you’re quite right. However, if no one wrote about him, then a lot of people might take what he says as accurate and worth taking notice of.

    However, the more people write about him, the more likely that some of this will get through, and people will see him as he really is.

    Good article, Zach! Keep it up.

  3. admin says:

    Apologies to all. Our spam filters have been picking up some legit comments. We are not censoring and I’m working to remedy this. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

  4. Drury says:

    First rate article. Civil, but hard-hitting. I realize he craves attention, and the best thing to do is ignore him, but I also agree with Richard that we need to speak the truth to such inflamatory and idiotic commentary.

  5. Stan says:

    Even being present for 79% of the voting in Parliament, it’s not good enough! For the money we pay politicians they should be present at all votes, without exception! Imagine what my boss would say if I told him I’d only be present 79% of the time……..

  6. Adam says:

    The column would be more credible if the author demonstrated that he actually read and comprehended what levant wrote.

    Levant does not equate the suppression of specific rights with the holocaust. There is no moral equivalence. He does not go around saying that the long gun registry is a holocaust against Canadians. It is intellectually dishonest to say that he, “insinuate(s) that Nazi persecution of Jews and other minorities can be compared with regulating firearms”.

    What he is clearly saying is that the suppression of rights by the German government prior to the rise of Hitler, set the groundwork upon which Nazi Germany was able to build. Its been a common theme time and time again in his writing.

    Why don’t you afford Levant the courtesy you seem to think he lacks and make a relevant argument instead of criticizing the trivial bits?

  7. Richard Komorowski says:

    @Stan
    Yet our very own Guy Lauzon has only been absent from Parliament only once, but can you honestly say that his presence there (or anywhere else, for that matter) has achieved anything?

  8. Eric says:

    “Rights aren’t absolute. The very first section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms notes that rights are subject to “reasonable limits.”

    Resonable limits is not the end of the sentence and can misconstrue the meaning or understanding to shape a desired goal. Many in the US have taken part of a constitution (2nd amendant) to say they can bear arms, the whole line though is “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
    The context can be changed to meet your point by only using one part.

    “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

    I may not agree with everything any one person says, but they should be heard, issues discussed, and improvemets implimented if it betters ALL of society.

  9. Ray K. says:

    Oh well, if the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says so then it must be true.

  10. sharon says:

    I think Ezra has a point. If every woman had a 45, there would be very little rape committed.

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