Customer Reviews: Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights
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on April 4, 2009
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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on April 13, 2009
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. These are a just a few of the truly bizarre stories that help make this book compelling. It is well written; 'Mr Levant is an accomplished wordsmith. Read it; you will laugh and cry at the same time. It's all true. You can look it up.

Be very, very careful, American friends. You are not safe in your own homes. From the darkest, most fetid recesses of academia, where it first mutated, the cancer of political correctness has taken control of your universities and much of your media; it is creeping into your workplaces and your homes. But be warned: its real objective is mind control. However, all is not lost - read this book.
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on March 28, 2009
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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on May 7, 2009
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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on May 22, 2009
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. Levant also takes a considerable amount of time to document other such abuses by similar commissions all across Canada. By doing so, he demonstrates how this mindless pursuit of "human rights" has in fact done the exact opposite. In a larger sense, he is sounding the alarm for how it is that government can take away basic freedoms, and especially how easily a small cadre of extremist radicals can subvert the system and impose their will and values on everyone with relatively little impunity. The thin-skinned and easily offended barbarians are at the helm, and they bristle at the notion that Mr. Levant can have the nerve to counter their arguments with, "Because it is my bloody right to."

Although Mr. Levant is conservative, this book should not be construed as "just a typical right wing diatribe against the abuses of the left". It actually transcends notions of Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative, and Mr. Levant takes considerable pains to point this out. The abuses that Mr. Levant outlines in his book could just as easily have happened from a right-wing junta as it did from a left-wing truth commission. The point is not the political ideologies involved, but the notion of government intrusion into our individual liberties - in this case, free speech. It is a sobering and frightening look at how easily we allow our basic freedoms to be handed over and compromised by an all-powerful, all-encompassing State, and the consequences of doing so. Something that every person who values their freedom to consider, as we live in this day and age of steadily growing government power.
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on March 6, 2011
I read this book after seeing Ezra speak for the Writer's festival in Ottawa. It concerns me greatly that not only individuals and journalists are being hauled before the HR Tribunal but also federal departments, so basically any interest group out there that doesn't like something can waste the public tax payers money to the tune of several million dollars whenever they feel like it. It disgusts me that Ezra and Mark Stein of McLean's magazine had to go through all their trouble because someone didn't like what they had to say when they exercised their right to free speech. When you read Shakedown, you'll see Canada in its liberal obsession with being politically correct and the supposed 'nice guy' has gotten itself into trouble. Youtube Geert Wilders the Dutch MP who's being hauled before their HR Tribunal for pointing out some real problems. Confusion reigns in this topsy turvy idea of human rights, but not with the likes of Ezra Levant who points out the absurdity of it all. Keep writing Ezra, you are appreciated.
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on November 23, 2010
Ezra Levant has sounded the alarm on the most serious and potentially disastrous issue in Canadian politics today - the regression and repression of the basic and natural freedom to think and say what we jolly-well please. Ezra blows the whistle on the Canadian thought police, arguing the federal and provincial/territorial "human rights" commissions have grossly overstepped their well-intentioned original purpose.

Along with telling his own horror story of being dragged through Alberta's opinion-inquisition for 3+ years, Levant documents numerous cases where radical leftist or Islamic zealots as well as opportunists looking for an easy buck, have used these "kangaroo courts" to punish law-abiding Canadian citizens for their political or religious views and corporations for their business decisions. Levant makes a convincing and water-tight argument that these unelected, unaccountable, secretive, underhanded, unscrupulous, grossly-powerful, usually untrained, and tax-payer funded bureaucratic thought police have become the vehicle of choice of radical groups or individuals looking to advance their own pet agendas and take out anyone whose thoughts or opinions might stand against them. If we don't believe in the freedom of thought, speech and conviction for people that offend us or that we disagree with, then we don't really believe in those fundamental freedoms at all.

This book is the most important book Canadians can read right now about their government. If what Levant says about the "human rights commissions" in Canada doesn't make you mad enough to demand of your provincial and federal representatives that the HRCs be abolished or, at minimum, severely reformed, you're probably one of the few freedom-hating Canadians currently milking the system for personal fame and fortune. Canadians need to stand up with Ezra Levant and demand that we let people's opinions fend for themselves in the market place of ideas rather than let a small and sordid group of social engineers with a messiah complex try to save their fellow Canadians from themselves.

Well researched, lively and engaging, I'd buy the book for the introduction by Mark Steyn alone (and don't neglect reading the appendices). You may disagree with Levant's political opinions but if you don't agree with his defense of our freedom to think and opine as we please, there may come a day in the not-to-distant future when you no longer have the freedom to disagree.
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on April 16, 2009
The Human Rights Commissions in Canada have been around for a few decades now, and for the most part have not drawn a lot of attention to the growing problem they have become until a couple of years ago. Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn (writing the foreword) were both part of large cases that had appropriately sized coverage in the media. Now we can all know what these government agencies are about.

To get an idea of what the problems are, consider these statements from the book.
"What was the point of having lawyers? There were no laws being followed."
"Kozak behaviour didn't conflict with the CHRC's code of ethics - because the CHRC quite literally doesn't have a code of ethics."
"One of the thousands of websites that had weighed in for reform of the HRCs was, which is , indeed, a white supremacist site whose members, as I discussed earlier, include several staff at the CHRC)."

The stories in this book have been unfolding for the last couple of years on the internet, and as Ezra says in his book, without the internet it probably would not have happened as it did. While you can read the whole narrative in the book, you can still go to Youtube and find the interrogation of Mr. Levant by the Alberta commission. You can still go and watch as he is told that he "has the right to his opinion."

On a couple of occassions, one is reminded of age old fights, as indeed this is a fight for freedom that was won centuries ago, yet we must fight again to retain those rights, apparently.
From the narrative on Steyn's case:
'They ruled that Steyn's essay contained "numerouis factual, historical and religious inaccuaracies about Islam and Muslims," but didn't list a single error.'
Marin Luther faced a similar accusation in his day, when a bull called his articles "respectively some heretical, some erroneous, some scandalous," without saying which are which.

Luther had his 95 theses, Mr. Levant has his 46 questions. The questions that Ezra sent to Professor Richard Moon, who had been picked by the Canadian commission to review itself, show (even without answers) the vast difference between the standard of justice in real courts of law, and the Human Rights Tribunals.

What if you are an American? This is still an important book, and a warning. Even now the same sort of victim culture that these Human Rights Commissions cater to is very much alive in the USA. Certain rights are in both the Canadian and U.S. constitutions to guarantee just proceedings in criminal and legal matters. We have Habeas corpus, "double jeopardy," and such things. The very sort of injustice that these were to prevent are the ones now being enforced on people. Does America want this in their country? I doubt it, judging from the opposition to the PATRIOT act, on the grounds of it permitting warrantless searches, which is exactly the power that the HRCs have in Canada.

When someone is looking to pass a law or create a bureaucracy to "protect human rights," be wary, read this book and you will understand why.

For additional reading I suggest "The Tyranny of Nice," by Kathy Shaidle and Peter Vere, which covers further cases, and has plenty of web references to follow as well.
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on July 28, 2009
The case of Canadian lawyer and writer Ezra Levant continues to exhilarate. His book, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, is almost as good as the beatings he inflicted on the bureaucrat on YT. Great stuff.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 28, 2009
Unless you are Canadian, you have probably not heard of Ezra Levant. Let me fill you in. Several years ago he was publisher of Western Standard magazine and made the decision to print the infamous Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. He did so because they were newsworthy and he wanted to use them to illustrate a story. He soon found himself before his province's Human Rights and Citizenship Commission where he was charged with the offense of "discrimination." It was only after a long, embittered and expensive fight that he managed to avoid charges becoming, I believe, the first person to be cleared of such crimes. He wrote Shakedown to record his experience and to draw attention to these Human Rights tribunals that happen all over Canada and which have taken for themselves outrageous powers that circumvent all manner of justice. In fact, they get awfully close to charging Canadians for "thoughtcrime," that Orwellian phrase that looks beyond what a person has actually done to what he may have intended to do. His story is shocking and, we hope, marks the beginning of the end for the Human Rights Commissions' most intrusive and outrageous powers.
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