Canadian freedoms

Rudolf K. F. Zeitlhofer

Dear editor,

It was a surprise to read in your editorial of June 24, 2020, that Freedom of Speech does not exist for Canadians, that it is an American invention. It was a surprise because it is so manifestly untrue. This is a canard that I have heard before and it needs to be put to rest.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states unequivocally in Section 2, subsection b: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication. It could not be clearer. Canadians can think, believe, and hold any opinion they want. They also have the right to express their views in any manner they see fit. This includes speech. The phraseology of the Charter is meant to include other forms of expression including modern media modes of expression.
In this regard you mention Canadian libel laws that inhibit what newspapers may publish. But this is also true of the United States and its vaunted Freedom of Speech. Americans have laws on libel and slander that limit Freedom of Speech in their country. No freedom is absolute, neither in our constitution nor in theirs. In fact, this is universal. Every country has limitations on speech and expression. Libel and slander are offences everywhere.
In the cavalcade of misinformation on this page of the Times, the letter from John Loewen was the most egregious. Mr. Loewen is opposed to defunding police and asserts that defunding of police occurred in Germany in 1933. He states that this led the Sturmabteilung, a paramilitary arm of the Nazi party, commonly known as brown shirts from their uniform, to do “dirty work among the citizens”.
On the contrary, it was a primary goal of the Nazis to seize control of the police apparatuses in the various German states to further their agenda. Defunding the police would have been inimical to their goal of seizing power and using the police to eliminate their political opponents.
Most German police, with disappointingly few exceptions, enthusiastically supported the programme of the Nazi party, both before 1933 and after Hitler’s seizure of power. There are many eyewitness accounts of German police standing by and watching as the brown shirts committed their depredations.
This type of historical revisionism must be resisted.

Yours truly,
Rudolf K. F. Zeitlhofer