Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: If you value free thought and open debate, David Suzuki is no role model.
BIG PICTURE: Amnesty International calls them ‘prisoners of conscience:’ people jailed not for violence, but for expressing the wrong opinions. This term was coined by Amnesty founder Peter Benenson back in 1961, who cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought…Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion…
Canadian broadcaster David Suzuki, 82, doesn’t believe in freedom of thought. He thinks people should go to jail if they think the wrong way about climate change.
Ten years ago, he urged a Montreal audience to find “a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act.” In Suzuki’s universe, climate change is a compelling problem (although not compelling enough for him to reduce his own air travel). Politicians who fail to take certain measures should therefore lose their liberty.
The difficulty, of course, is that there are diverse perspectives regarding the source, magnitude, and significance of recent climate change. The climate on this planet is always changing, and many smart people consider its recent fluctuations to be trivial. Those who hold such views – whether they be scientists or democratically elected leaders – have a right to behave according to their conscience.
When the media pointed out Suzuki’s totalitarian thinking a decade ago, a newspaper article told us:
Though a spokesman said yesterday the call for imprisonment was not meant to be taken literally, Dr. Suzuki reportedly made similar remarks in an address at the University of Toronto last month.
When Suzuki was interviewed by the Australian edition of Rolling Stone magazine two years ago, he was once again asked about giving “jail sentences to former Prime Ministers.” His response:
I really believe that people like the former Prime Minister of Canada should be thrown in jail for wilful blindness. If you’re the CEO of a company and you deliberately avoid or ignore information relevant to the functioning of that company, you can be thrown in jail…to have a Prime Minister who for nine years wouldn’t even let the term ‘climate change’ pass his lips! If that isn’t wilful blindness, then I don’t know what is. (my italics)
Listen to this man’s own words. He really does think people should be sent to prison if their analysis of a complicated topic doesn’t align with his own.
Suzuki has enjoyed an illustrious, multi-decades-long career with the publicly-funded CBC. He has not toiled in obscurity and penury, struggling to communicate his message to an indifferent world. Rather, he is famous, affluent, and influential. He has been fêted and honoured on many occasions and from many directions. Twelve years ago, he received the Order of Canada. Twenty-seven universities from three countries have already given him honorary degrees.
TOP TAKEAWAY: On June 7th, the University of Alberta will lionize a man who thinks prison is an appropriate response to contrary opinions.
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