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Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights Hardcover – March 24, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"I was at a low moment, and beginning to fear that our adversarial culture was dying and the open society was losing its will to resist, when Ezra Levant showed that every citizen has the birthright of a little spark, and a grown-up duty to kindle that spark into a flame. Let the bureaucrats do their worst: the tongue and the word are chainless and nothing is sacred except this freedom above all."
— Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great

“If we're not careful, if we force the Ezras in this country to shut up, our freedom of speech could be next.”
— Rick Mercer, in a “rant” from the Rick Mercer Report

“We are not yet three months into 2009, but Ezra may well have written the most important public affairs book this year.”
The National Post

“I read Shakedown and I am awed at Levant's persistence and powers of endurance.”
— Rex Murphy, in the Globe & Mail

“Why is Ezra Levant the flavour of the month? Dare I say because he deserves to be?”
Metro Vancouver

“…eloquent and powerful…”
London Free Press

“…puts everything on the line in the way the best Canadian journalists always did.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Let me put in a plug for Levant’s new book, Shakedown, which lays out, in example after example, how government-appointed human rights bodies warped the noble mission for which they were created.”
The Halifax Chronicle Herald

“...By the end of Levant’s book, readers will be left wondering whether it is enough to prune back the commissions, or, as he prefers, to weed them out altogether.”

About the Author

Ezra Levant is a lawyer, journalist and political activist. As the publisher of the Western Standard magazine, he was charged by the Government of Alberta for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. He is a frequent radio talk show guest known for his plain-spoken opinions, and he has written columns for media as diverse as the Calgary Sun and Canadian Lawyer. He has also written three non-fiction books: Youthquake, Fight Kyoto, and The War on Fun. He lives in Calgary.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; First Edition edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771046189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771046186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,962,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Winston on April 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I only thought countries like Iran, Cuba or Saudi Arabia prosecuted people for expressing their opinions. I was wrong. It's scary to think that in a 1st rate country like Canada, a great country, such courts exist. These government sanctioned courts/tribunals make it hard to express your own thoughts and Mr. Levant has embarked on a crusade to expose these Stalinist kangaroo courts and defeat them in the real court of public opinion. I think he has been successful. This is an extremely well done book. Greatly researched, written by a very passionate man who cares deeply about his country and has done so to protect it from these HR courts. Buy this book and let others read it too. Every single Canadian of all stripes must know what's going on and how their tax money is spent. I, for one, am glad that brave men like Mr. Levant have the guts to go through such fights. For their bravery, Canada will be a much better place and a safer place to live. 5/5
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gerry Wood on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you want to know what happens when political correctness goes unchecked and an important arm of the judiciary is taken over by agenda-driven whackos, then read this book. If you want to know what can happen in your country if you are not eternally vigilant, then read this book. If you want to know what happens when individual liberty is held hostage to the schemes of outlandish social engineers and devious activists, then read this book. It happened in Canada; it's still happening in Canada. It can happen anywhere. It's all true. You can look it up.

This is the story of the hijacking of the Canadian human rights commissions and their downright nasty pursuit of Ezra Levant, whose crime was to publish the so-called Danish cartoons mocking Muslim extremism. He was the editor of a small news magazine; the cartoons were huge news so it seemed appropriate to him to do what he did. Foolish man. As a result, he was dragged before the local HRC and put through the wringer for nearly three years. However, Mr Levant is not a man to go quietly. He fought back magnificently and has launched a nation-wide campaign to bring these feral creatures to heel. And so far, he is winning.

SHAKEDOWN is Mr Levant''s story, both his own experience in "court" and his subsequent campaign; it is laced with numerous real-life HRC stories. Read about the woman who had the 'right' not to wash her hands even though she was a restaurant worker; the six foot transsexual athlete who had the 'right' to provide counselling in a rape crisis centre (and of the rape victims who were obliged to comply); the Christian pastor who is prohibited from expressing his opinions even though they are sincere and consistent with his religion.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By C. Brobeck on March 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for both Canadians and Americans.

It is important for Canadians as it clearly describes the ways the federal and provincial HRC's are undermining Canadian civil liberties as established through centuries of common law and enunciated in our Constition and Bill of Rights. HRC's are free to operate outside our normal legal conventions and the most basic of legal safeguards, resulting in a bureaucratic, Kafka-esque shadow court system that largely operates outside of public scrutiny.

Americans should read this book as a warning as to what could easily lie in their future, given the dysfunctional Congress and an Executive branch that appears to share much of the Canadian Trudeau-era ideology that created the HRCs in the first place.

But most importantly, both Americans and Canadians should read this book to understand when a single individual is willing to stand up against an overwhelming bureaucratic machine, he may, in his own way, triumph for us all.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donna Jessup on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights

Although this book was written about Human Rights' Councils in Canada, it sends a clarion call to citizens of the United States who cherish our Bill of Rights and want to protect it from the Nanny State. If we think that this cannot happen in the United States, we only have to look recent events in U.S. history. Our government is paving the way with special laws for hate crimes. We are already elevating one group (in each case of hate crimes) above others when prosecuting hate crimes. Every crime is already covered by U.S. law - after all a crime is a crime, but to say one crime is worse than others, because the victim belongs to a particular segment of society, is to dilute the value of the law in every instance that is not labeled a hate crime. So watch out - it is already happening in the U.S. This books gives an excellent picture of what will happen if we let the government busybodies have their way.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. B. Killings on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To partially borrow a phrase from Jonah Goldberg, if fascism ever came to the Western Democracies, it would come not from brownshirts pounding on your doorstep, but lawyers carrying subpoenas issued by faceless, unelected, and unaccountable bureaucrats. This is exactly the nightmare that Ezra Levine faced in Canada, when he was forced to give account before a government agency for doing something that most people in the west take for granted: speaking his mind.

The government agency for which he was hauled before - the Alberta Human Rights Commission - had started out innocently enough, as a place of legal recourse for people who felt that they had been discriminated against in housing and employment, but did not have the means for which to pursue a grievance. But somewhere along the way, its mission became perverted. It took an expansive view of its mandate to pursue "human rights", and began to pursue people based not on their actions, but on what they said or wrote - classifying anything that they deemed as "hate speech" as a human rights violation, and therefore subject to their investigations and sanctions. In other words, they became thought police, with astonishing powers to pursue a target, and whose victims soon found that they had very little legal recourse but to give in to the AHRC's "remedies".

This is what happens when government is allowed to run unchecked, when government agencies take it upon themselves to be the arbiter of what its citizens can and cannot do. This book is a wake-up call for how government, even with the best of intentions, can step in and take away people's freedoms in the name of the "greater good", and how little anyone can do to stop them. While Shakedown is primarily about Ezra Levant's three-year struggle against the AHRC, Mr.
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