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The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has dismissed nine complaints against the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald, arising from an editorial titled Apocalyptic Creed that both papers published in April 2002. While agreeing the editorial contained offensive statements, Marie Riddle, director of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, wrote that given current case law she did not see a basis for forwarding the complaints to a panel.


The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has dismissed nine complaints against the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald, arising from an editorial published seven years ago, the Edmonton Journal reports.
 
Distributed by the Canwest chain that owns both papers, the editorial titled Apocalyptic Creed was published April 2, 2002. This editorial can’t be found on Canada.com, where recent content from both newspapers is available, but is available online from at least a few sources, including this one.

It contains phrases such as “Part of the problem lies with Muslim civilization itself,” and “the barbaric standards of the Arab Middle East.”

The newspapers received many angry letters and nine organizations filed human rights complaints, according to the Journal report. The report says Marie Riddle, the commission director, wrote in her Sept. 21 decision that “although in my opinion statements made in the editorial … were offensive, based on the recent case law, I can find no basis to forward the complaint for a human-rights panel.”

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s recent finding that Section 13 of the Human Rights Act infringed the free-speech rights of far-right website operator Marc Lemire has been seen as putting a crimp in complaints against the media under that legislation (see previous J-Source posting). In recent editorials the Calgary Herald and Macleans magazine have called in recent editorials for changes to human rights legislation to stop such complaints.

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Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.