23 June 2008

The Pettiness of Ezra Levant

We haven't spoken much about Ezra Levant and his issues with the Canadian Human Rights Commission or with Richard Warman. We're more than happy to leave all that to those with an intimate knowledge of the legal system while we focus on the street thugs; we know our place on the totem pole and we're happy to have carved out our particular niche. However, we couldn't let Levant's latest missive go without comment, mainly because it is so ridiculous and petty that it actually renders the rest of his arguments about the CHRC, well, you decide.

Here is what Levant wrote under the title, Athanasios Hadjis, jet setter:
As per Michael Teper's comment, I poked around some of the expense reports on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's website.

My favourite -- no surprise -- is that of Athanasios Hadjis, their chief censor.

Allow me to draw your attention to two entries.

The first is a lunch that Hadjis had last fall with Heather MacNaughton of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. She was the chair of Mark Steyn's show trial last month in Vancouver. I can only imagine all the tips and tricks Hadjis -- who boasts a 100% conviction rate for "hate speech" -- was sharing with her.

But what's more telling is that Hadjis filled out the forms and submitted his expense request... for $11.
Nothing is too small or petty to bill to taxpayers. I bet that $11 reimbursement cost $100 in bureaucrat manpower to process. But the man is entitled to his entitlements.

If only all of Hadjis's bills were so trivial.

Last year alone, Hadjis dinged taxpayer more than $40,000 to travel around. That's a staggering sum -- about what many Canadians earn in a year's work. But it's also surprising how few trips it took for Hadjis to hit that mark.

I guess that sort of thing happens quickly when you rack up more than $3,200 for 24 hours in Saskatoon.

Gutting Canada's tradition of freedom of speech isn't just an ideological crusade. It's a huge industry, with plenty of perks. I wonder if Hadjis keeps all the frequent flyer points he racks up on our dime.
UPDATE: Some commenters point out that flying first class is sometimes done in business. Sure -- in some businesses it is. Most businesses are small businesses, who fly economy. But that's not the point: the point is to emphasize that there are a lot of collateral reasons why this censorship endures. It's an industry, and for hundreds of Canadians, it's what they do instead of real work. If Hadjis had to run his own law firm, instead of jaunt around the country censoring people, I doubt he'd fly first class on his own dime, or even on the dime of most clients. The CHRC/CHRT/HRC industry is a gravy train.

So, Mr Hadjis submits an expense claim for $11.00, and Levant has a problem with that? If he feels that $11.00 is trivial, then perhaps that speaks more to Mr. Levant's elitism that he feels that people can easily drop $11.00 for lunch (for two people, we might add).

Of course his main claim is that the overall expenses are a travesty and insult to hard-working, tax-paying, Canadians (as if Hadjis isn't all of these things as well). However, actually take a look at the expense claims. None of them are unreasonable considering the travel involved in Mr. Hadjis' work. However, rather than argue that the merits of his case, Levant goes after the man personally, which says something about Levant. Nothing good.

Of course none of this is unusual given the person that Levant is. If he gives one the impression that he's an attention whore, well, perhaps that's because he is. This is a man who, whenever he's in the public eye, is in some sort of dispute or trying to start a controversy (shamelessly taken from Wikipedia):

- On Quebec separation, he supported Quebec leaving so that "it would lead to the elimination of bilingualism and multiculturalism, that it would give the Canadian government the "fortitude" to say no to "other special interest groups" such as First Nations and environmentalists; it would end corruption in Parliament which Levant blamed on Quebec politicians; and would clear the way for Preston Manning to become Prime Minister of Canada."

- Wrote in support of Alberta separation in 1996 should the federal Liberal Party win the next election.

- "Levant wrote a Reform Party fundraising letter in 1998 in which he called Alberta Progressive Conservative Senator Ron Ghitter lazy and un-Albertan. Ghitter sued and in 2000, Levant and Canadian Alliance MP Rob Anders issued a formal apology and also made an undisclosed payment to settle the suit."

- Worked as an aid to Preston Manning, then worked to unseat Mr. Manning when the Canadian Alliance was created. In February 2001 he began working for new leader Stockwell Day as his communications director, but was forced to resign in May of the same year when he leaked a letter written to Chuck Strahl, who was the leader of dissident Canadian Alliance members opposed to Day, threatening to sue Stahl for criticisms of his office.

- "Later in 2001, Levant returned to Calgary to practice law. By February 2002, he won the Canadian Alliance party nomination for the riding of Calgary Southwest, but stepped aside after public pressure so that new party leader Stephen Harper could run there in a 2002 by-election. When the by-election was called, Levant, who is reported to have spent more than $150,000 in gaining the nomination, announced on March 28th that he would not step aside. Later that night, however, he relented after widespread pressure from the party and accusations that he was putting himself ahead of the party."

Nice. Later, the failed politician went on to publish what would become a failed conservative magazine, the "National Standard" where, in an effort to drum up readership by creating a controversy and under the guise of "free speech," Levant published cartoons offensive to Muslims. Hell, if he had truly been an advocate of free speech, then he might get some credit from us, but that he had urged criminal prosecution for a Muslim leader for hate speech sort of makes his new found appreciation for such freedoms ring hollow.

Well, that brings us back to expense claims. We have a challenge for Mr. Levant. If you are troubled by the expenses of Mr. Hadjis, then maybe you might release your expense claims made while an aid to Preston Manning and as communications director for Mr. Day.

In some ways we don't have a dog in this hunt. But we can't wait until this is over so that the shrill sounds from Calgary cease and Levant fades into obscurity. Hope springs eternal.

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