By now, most of you are aware of the events that took place in Montreal over the weekend. If not, take a quick look here and here. As Roosh moves on to Toronto this coming weekend, members of the governing body of Toronto have already taken to social media outlets—specifically Twitter—to voice not only their opinions on Roosh and his upcoming lecture but also encourage that certain actions take place impeding the lecture.
Specifically, Mayor John Tory and City Councilman Norm Kelly have disseminated tweets in furtherance of the above. Being the lawyer that I am, the aspect involving free speech and civil rights intrigued me. Do the tweets describe below violate the laws of the very city, province, and country these public officials represent?
What about Canada’s own constitution? I thought there was no better way to end my hiatus here at Return of Kings than to take a quick look and see what I could formulate as a response to my own curiosity.**
Toronto Civil Servicemen
Mayor John Tory
On August 10th, Toronto Mayor John Tory blasted a series of tweets calling for any venue willing to host Roosh to cancel their offers, stating that Roosh is not welcome in Toronto and without explanation deeming Roosh’s lecture a “hate speech” and claiming that Roosh promotes violence against women.
City Councilman Norm Kelly
Also on August 10th, Toronto Councilman Norm Kelly tweeted that Roosh and his views are not welcome in Toronto, and also urged all venues in Toronto to deny Roosh the opportunity to use their space.
Before we go into my commentary on why I think Tory and Kelly, as public officials, are violating various human rights codes in effect in Canada, I want to quickly touch upon the idea that Roosh will be giving, or ever has given, any derivative of what Tory so callously deems “hate speech” or violence against women.
Initially, how do Tory and Kelly know that the contents of Roosh’s lecture fall within the purview of “hate speech?” Have they attended a previous lecture? Do they have a transcript of one? Of course not. Yet they are quick to deem it hate speech without a scintilla of evidence substantiating their claim.
In fact, if you look at the lecture’s website there is no indication of anything remotely resembling hatred. Rather:
“The State Of Man” is a 40-minute speech that carefully examines the existence of modern man. It deconstructs the problems men face today while giving practical solutions for helping them improve their intimate relationships with women and increase their overall enjoyment with life.
The speech is intended for men who are concerned with the decline of modern culture and are at the same time eager to work at improving their lives. It will give men actionable steps for becoming a better man and gaining the benefits in life that they desire.
Perhaps however, Tory and Kelly are referring to past incidences that may somehow qualify Roosh as one who has previously engaged in hate speech. Putting aside the legality of preventing someone from speaking in the future based on a past occurrence, again where can anyone point to such content existing?
People are quick to call Roosh a rapist. I challenge generally any reader of this article and specifically Mayor Tory and Councilman Kelly to provide one instance of a mere allegation of rape against Roosh, much less a charge or conviction. None exist. Statistically speaking, given Roosh has slept with his share of women in his lifetime you would assume as a “rapist” one such allegation would arise. Yet, nothing.
Then there is this blog post on rape which is every self-proclaimed social justice warrior’s piece of undeniable evidence that Roosh promotes violence, vis a vis rape, against women.
Yet even a cursory reading of the actual post itself, an act which sadly has become a rare commodity in our ADD ridden, clickbait world today, shows no such intent is meant in this thought exercise and satirical post (for example, just read the third paragraph). Not to mention Roosh himself has explained the post hardly promotes violence against women several times himself, most recently with Gavin McInnes.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom
At the outset of the Constitution we have the above-titled section regarding rights and freedoms. Several sections of this part seem relevant to the events surrounding Roosh’s lecture. Under “Fundamental Freedoms” the Constitution states that “everyone” has the following freedoms:
- “of thought, belief, opinion and expression” (Part I, Paragraph 2, subsection (b))
- “of peaceful assembly” (Part I, Paragraph 2, subsection (c))
- “of association” (Part I, Paragraph 2, subsection (d))
While I am not a Canadian attorney nor do I claim to have any experience interpreting the Constitution of our apparently thin-skinned neighbor to the north, I do know how to read a statute. First, I’m pretty sure Roosh falls under the protected group here labeled “everyone.” So the fact that he is not a citizen of Canada has no bearing.
Ontario Human Rights Code And Toronto Policy
Aside from the Constitution, Ontario has its own Human Rights Code. In Part I, it states that
Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.
Creed can be defined as an “idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group.” An easy argument can be made that neo-masculinity and whatever other ideas are discussed in Roosh’s lecture classify as a creed, and therefore, entitled to equal rights.
The City condemns harassment, denigration, discriminatory actions and the promotion of hatred. The City of Toronto will not tolerate, ignore, or condone discrimination or harassment and is committed to promoting respectful conduct, tolerance and diversity at all times.
Discrimination is defined in Paragraph 4.3:
Discrimination is any practice or behaviour, whether intentional or not, which has a negative impact on an individual or group because of membership in a group protected in the Ontario Human Rights Code…
As we see above, “creed” is protected under the Human Rights Code and thus, any behavior having a negative impact on one’s creed is prohibited.
Tweets vs. Law
So now we turn to the tweets themselves and how they fit into the above-cited laws. Roosh is entitled to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. To me, this means whatever his views may be, he is entitled to have them per the Constitution.
Moreover, creed is protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Accordingly, I fail to see how Councilman Kelly can specifically state that “his views are not welcome in Toronto.”
Mayor John Tory also arguably promotes the violation of this subsection by tweeting that Roosh’s views towards women are contradictory with those of Toronto and thus unacceptable. Whatever these views may be, which Tory does not specify, per this subsection of the Constitution Roosh is still entitled to these thoughts. Solely because Mr. Tory does not agree with them does not make them illegal.
I have a lot of issues with Tory and Kelly, as public figures, calling for action to deny Roosh the ability to host his lecture. While I understand the protections come in when state actors are involved, here the intertangling of public officials complicates things.
Per the Constitution, Roosh is entitled to the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association. In the most basic terms, he has a guaranteed right to peacefully assemble and associate with whomever he wants, however he wants. Again we have to ask whether the above tweets fly against such a Constitutionally prescribed freedom.
Mayor John Tory “calls” for the venues potentially hosting Roosh’s lecture to cancel on him. He further states that Roosh has no platform for delivering his speech in Toronto. To me, this sounds like a government actor interfering with Roosh’s right to assemble or associate with whomever he wants.
Moreover, this will likely (if not already) have a negative impact on Roosh’s ability to carry out his lecture, and if we include his ideology as creed which is a protected group, then we have violations of both the Ontario Human Rights Code, as well as an act constituting discrimination under Toronto Policy.
Councilman Norm Kelly “urges” all venues to “deny” Roosh the opportunity to use their space. Again, a government actor interfering with Roosh’s fundamental freedom allotted to him by Canada’s own constitution.
Kelly’s language bothers me a bit more than Tory’s, as well given he is expressly stating that one who has different views should be denied an equal opportunity, in this case the use of a venue. This follows the same analysis above with respect to the Ontario Code and Toronto Policy.
Something seems off about public officials calling for action leading to censorship of a harmless speech. I am not a lawyer in Canada. Nor do I hold myself out as an expert in international free speech. But I do know how to interpret a law or two, and in my modest opinion Canada’s laws do not support Mayor John Tory or Councilman Norm Kelly’s tweets this week.
**Please note this is only my interpretation of the law and not meant to be legal advice of any kind whatsoever.