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For Climate Alarmists ‘Free Speech’ Exists Only For Them

Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun

There’s a delicious irony in the fact those seeking to shut down opposing viewpoints on the issue of human-induced climate change have been hoist with their own petard.

Because People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier doesn’t believe in human-induced climate change, environmental charities have been warned by Elections Canada that advertising that it’s real, or an emergency, during the election campaign, could be considered politically partisan advertising.

Absurdly, this warning from Elections Canada resulted in Bernier being attacked on social media by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, among others, for his views on climate change, even though Bernier opposes the policy as a violation of free speech.

Bernier said the problem is Elections Canada has to operate under legislation that is “arbitrary, draconian” and “cannot be applied consistently” adding, “the law should only regulate real partisan advertising, which is when there is mention of a candidate or party by name.”

Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada, told The Canadian Press the warning doesn’t mean environmental organizations can’t express their views in interviews.

But if they pay to advertise their position during the election and spend over $500, they have to register as third parties, which could put their charitable status at risk, including their ability to issue tax receipts.

Under Canada Revenue Agency rules, charities aren’t supposed to engage in partisan activities, meaning anything that “involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or a candidate for public office”, even if they don’t name names.

Despite that, David Suzuki of the David Suzuki Foundation, to cite one example, endorsed then Liberal leader Stephane Dion in the 2008 federal election, while attacking then Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and the late NDP leader Jack Layton on environmental issues.

In the 2011 Ontario election, Suzuki endorsed then Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, described then Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s environmental policies as “absolute insanity”, and appeared in a Liberal campaign video posted on their website, strolling with McGuinty in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

Eventually Suzuki, who accused the CRA of denying his right to free speech and the Toronto Sun of seeking to decertify his charity, resigned from his Foundation’s board, which apparently resolved the issue.

Environmental groups have long complained the CRA, under the Harper and Justin Trudeau governments, has unfairly threatened them with audits and loss of charitable status.

The Trudeau government last year dropped a CRA rule charities couldn’t spend more than 10% of their income on political advocacy, but the ban on partisan activities remains.

Ironically, in 2015 the environmental charity, Ecojustice, urged Canada’s Competition Bureau, on behalf of six “prominent” Canadians, including former Ontario NDP leader and UN ambassador Stephen Lewis, to investigate Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition and the Heartland Institute for climate denial.

Ecojustice accused them of making false and misleading claims about climate change, including that the sun is the main driver of climate change, and carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant (also Bernier’s position).

Ecojustice told the National Observer it would press the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney General of Canada for “criminal charges against the denier groups.”

After 14 months, the Competition Bureau dropped the investigation.

I don’t recall any of the politicians and environmental groups now wailing about free speech, criticizing Ecojustice back then.

That’s because, unlike Bernier, who understands what free speech means, they would happily censor speech they disagree with.

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