Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Liberal MP accuses Prime Minister of "muzzling" his MPs on free speech

The Liberal MP who put forward a motion in Canada's Parliament to revoke the hate speech clause in the Canadian Human Rights Act is accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of "muzzling" his MPs to prevent them from speaking on the issue.

Keith Martin made the comments when asked about talking points leaked to a Canadian blogger last week that provided Conservative MPs evasive answers for questions about supporting Martin's motion.

Harper, who was a critic of human rights commissions when he was involved with the pro-liberty National Citizens Coalition, is becoming the target of criticism from Canadian conservatives for his silence and the talking points.

On Monday, Ezra Levant revealed in an interview with Shire Network News that members of the Conservative caucus had told him that the Conservative command centre was concerned that supporting the motion could open them up to charges of being anti-human rights.

Here's an excerpt from Martin's interview with Deborah Gyapong, who is becoming the Fallaci of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

"I think its unfortunate many members of the Conservative party have been very supportive of this, including the prime minister before he became prime minister. I hope that the prime minister sees that by having the motion introduced by somebody else and the positive response that it has drawn, it creates a safe space upon which he can take it upon himself and his government can take it upon itself to introduce it at committee where the committee can actually look at this in a responsible, public and transparent fashion."

"I’m disappointed that the prime minister is attempting to muzzle his caucus ironically on an issue of freedom of speech. And I know that he doesn’t personally agree with that--"

"I hope that the prime minister really moves away from this position which is really untenable given his previous comments and the fact that there are very few true rights in our country. If there’s one responbility this this House has, that this Parliament has its to defend those rights."

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