Right on, Mr. Rathgeber! An opportunity presents itself for St. Albert’s most ardent advocate of free speech

Your blogger, freely expressing himself with Bret Rathgeber, MP for Edmonton-St. Albert. Below: George Galloway.

A St. Albert weekly newspaper recently informed its readers that Brent Rathgeber, our city’s Member of Parliament, is “an ardent advocate of free speech.”

This is nice to know, as a major story about freedom of expression is looming on the horizon and, given Mr. Rathgeber’s ardent advocacy of this fundamental freedom enjoyed by all Canadians (and apparently their visitors too), we can be confident he and like-minded Conservatives across the land will wish to be in the forefront of the commentary on this issue.

This is mentioned here purely as a public service, lest our local champion of free speech happened to have missed the item, which for some reason seems not to have garnered much attention in the national press.

But first, the backstory: Apparently Mr. Rathgeber was disappointed because Ann Coulter, the odious American advocate of tea-bagging and other unsavoury practices common south of the Medicine Line, had freely chosen to cancel a speech at the University of Ottawa last month because some Canadians had the cheek to exercise their constitutional right to criticize her offensive views.

It seems the noise of the demonstration gave her a headache. Or something. Alert readers will recall how this was portrayed by Ms. Coulter’s supporters and their echo chamber in the mainstream media as an attempt to suppress her right to free expression, a claim that illustrated their astonishing brass if not their reserves of intellectual honesty.

Alas, it seems Mr. Rathgeber’s hopes to pass a bleak evening in Ottawa – the city Marc Lalonde once observed is proof Canada still has capital punishment – had been frustrated by the ruckus surrounding Ms. Coulter’s visit. This, in turn, provided him with a soapbox to mount and offer his commentary on the issue to the local press.

But where was Mr. Rathgeber just a year ago, when the Hon. Jason Kenney, Canada’s esteemed Minister of Immigration, exerted himself in “a short but intense campaign” to ensure that British MP George Galloway did not have the opportunity to exercise his right to free speech in our country.

Astonishingly, Mr. Rathgeber was nowhere to be seen or heard, along with all the other Conservative Members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s House of Frequent Prorogation!

Mr. Galloway, readers will recall, is a law-abiding socialist Member of the Mother of Parliaments who has the temerity to hold views different from those of our prime minister and his neo-con acolytes on such topics as Israel’s treatment of the people of Palestine and the United States’ lamentable recent war in Iraq. Mr. Galloway was fatuously labeled a threat to Canada’s “national security” and prevented from entering the country from the United States, where despite his views he was allowed to roam and speak as he pleased.

One suspects that it was not so much Mr. Galloway’s views that were the real problem for our Conservative masters as his ability to communicate them effectively. Regardless, Canada’s Conservative guardians of free speech – either by commission like Mr. Kenney or by omission like most of the Conservative caucus – ensured that Mr. Galloway did not have an opportunity to express his dangerous views in Canada.

It took a mild protest against Ms. Coulter’s racist views and open support for political violence – which unlike Mr. Galloway’s opinions could in fact be said to constitute a threat to Canada’s national security – to arouse these tireless advocates of free speech from their deep slumber.

Now that he has awakened, however, Mr. Rathgeber will be pleased to learn that the issue of Mr. Galloway’s right to free expression is about to return to the news, so he will have the opportunity to redeem himself for his previous silence.

Lawyers representing Mr. Galloway and the Canadian government are scheduled to face off in the in the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto next Monday, April 26. There, the organizers of Mr. Galloway’s suppressed tour will attempt to overturn Mr. Kenney’s ban. Soon after that, they hope, Canadians will have an opportunity to hear for themselves what Mr. Galloway has to say.

If Mr. Galloway speaks in Ottawa, one can only assume that Mr. Rathgeber will be there to express his support for the British MP’s right to speak, if not his opinions.

After all, as Mr. Rathgeber told the local press in St. Albert: “When the government defines free speech, when the government tells you what is and what is not acceptable speech, that is antithetical to true free speech.”

Right on, Brother!

5 Comments on "Right on, Mr. Rathgeber! An opportunity presents itself for St. Albert’s most ardent advocate of free speech"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Rathgeber was a terrible MLA and he is a terrible MP, he deserved to be defeated by David Eggen in 2004 even though i don't believe in the NDP.

    Lets hope someone defeats him from his federal seat.

  2. David Heyman says:

    Galloway was banned for financially supporting suicide-bomb-loving terrorists with a long record of killing Jewish women and children and then holding triumphant parades where thousands urged more killing. He was not banned for his views. He's one of what Lenin called "useful idiots" – westerners who support totalitarian governments without acknowledging the hypocrisy.
    For those who will say he was only supplying food and medicine to Palestinians, I say the Red Cross/Crescent does a fine job of that already. No need to go through the blood-soaked hands of Holocaust deniers who are looking for moral cover to aid people.
    I would suggest you Galloway supporters find another way to commemorate Hitler's birthday than with columns like this. Perhaps some vigorous goose-stepping in front of the local beer hall to keep the spirits up?

  3. theo says:

    Oops David, I’m afraid you’re wrong on the reason for Mr Galloway’s banishment from the borders of Canada (http://rabble.ca/news/2010/04/government-lawyers-failed-redact-galloway-emails). Also, your little screed has nothing to do with the column at hand which is about esteemed MPs (well, one anyway) and their unswerving steadfastness in supporting the principles of free speech whenever it suits their fancy.

    Do try and pay attention in future dear boy and stay on topic.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Excellent post.

    Yeah, the silence of the msm …

    Thank you, really.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A blow up doll would be a more effective MP than Rathgeber.

    And yes, Galloway financially supported terrorists. That is why he was banned from Canada. Although I wish he would have been permitted to enter the country so that he could be arrested, tried and jailed.

    Ann Coulter is a hard edged comedienne. I find her funny. If you are taking her seriously then I suggest that you never, ever read satire, watch comedy shows or read the funny papers.

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