Daphne Bramham: Right-wing Justice Centre forges a new path with old leader

Interesting twist:

Apparently, it’s not such a terrible thing that a lawyer and head of a conservative-rights organization hired a private detective to spy on a provincial chief justice who was hearing a case that he was involved in.

A little mea culpa, seven weeks off and then it’s back to work at an organization that claims to be committed to defending citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

At least that’s the way it is working for John Carpay, founder and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Carpay railed against Alberta Health Services’ mandatory vaccination policy for employees in a news release last week. He declared it “morally repugnant” and “an insult to every individual’s inherent human dignity.”

That is strong language for someone being actively investigated by Winnipeg police for invasion of privacy, intimidation and obstruction of justice, as well as by the law societies of both Manitoba and Alberta for breaching their codes of conduct.

The JCCF itself is also under scrutiny. Canada Revenue Agency has received a complaint regarding its status, since hiring a private investigator doesn’t seem a fit expenditure for a registered charity. CRA doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations.

To recap, Carpay admitted in July to hiring a detective to follow Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench while Joyal was hearing the JCCF’s constitutional challenge to provincial COVID restrictions.

In court, Joyal raised concerns about being followed, about his privacy, safety and security, and that of his family. But he also questioned whether it was being done to intimidate him or obstruct justice.

In court, Carpay apologized and went on “indefinite leave.”

Manitoba’s Justice Minister Cameron Friesen was outraged and said, “It is difficult to believe that these actions were not intended to influence the outcome of the court case.”

Friesen sparked Manitoba Law Society’s investigation of Carpay and all of JCCF’s 10 lawyers. Meanwhile, Ottawa human-rights lawyer Richard Warman filed a complaint with the Alberta Law Society against Carpay and JCCF litigation director Jay Cameron.

In his complaint, Warman noted the potential for criminal charges and suggested both lawyers had breached the Code of Professional Conduct rules relating to “integrity, competency, honesty, candour, conflict of interest, encouraging respect for the administration of justice and harassment.”

An Alberta law society spokesperson said its Manitoba counterpart is leading the investigation. No date has been set for the hearing.

Before starting his “indefinite leave,” Carpay insisted that he acted without the JCCF directors’ knowledge, prompting the board to review the centre’s operations and decision-making.

Seven weeks later, Carpay was back, and the board was down to four members from nine.

Board member Bruce Pardy, whose opinion piece in the National Post described Carpay’s actions as “an affront to the integrity of the judicial process,” was not one of them. He does, however, remain on its 10-member advisory council.

The slimmed-down board has only one lawyer and a new director, who is a bit of a mystery. His name is Gareth Hudson, but the centre’s website has neither his photograph nor a biography. The chair is Jonathan Allen, a retired Toronto asset manager who has been on the board since 2020.

The fourth director is Troy Lanigan, a Victoria-based consultant, president of the Manning Centre, founder of SecondStreet.org, and former head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, where Carpay also cut his political teeth.

The Manning Centre is “dedicated to strengthening Canada’s conservative movement through networking,” while SecondStreet “examines public policy through the lens of stories and experiences shared by individuals, families and entrepreneurs impacted by government policy.”

JCCF did not respond to written requests for information about Hudson, Allen’s contact information, or to questions forwarded to Allen and other directors through communications director Marnie Cathcart.

In September, the board said it is “taking steps to strengthen governance, and to provide increased independence between the litigation and educational activities of the organization” and “seeking to streamline and refresh its membership to better respond to demands on the organization.”

Since then, JCCF has been acting a bit more like an American political action committee than as a legal rights’ defender.

Recently, JCCF news releases have been illustrated with unflattering images of Prime Minister Justice Trudeau, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and former Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

Excluded from attack is Maxime Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada leader, who harnessed the anger of anti-vaxxers during the election campaign with his cry: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.”

Bernier is one of the people JCCF is defending following his June arrest in Manitoba for failing to self-isolate on his arrival in the province and for attending an outdoor anti-lockdown rally banned under COVID restrictions. That case has yet to be heard.

Throughout the election campaign, Bernier and his supporters flouted COVID restrictions, including on election night in Saskatoon. Charges are also pending there.

Without comment from the JCCF, it is hard to know where the organization is headed.

Had the JCCF chairman responded to my questions about Carpay’s reinstatement, he might have said that the presumption of innocence is a keystone of the Canadian court system. Of course, Carpay admitted to his seriously flawed judgment in court.

Very few organizations would be as forgiving. They protect their brands.

But maybe this isn’t about protecting a brand. Maybe this is a rebranding, with the centre moving away from defending the law to something far different.

Source: Daphne Bramham: Right-wing Justice Centre forges a new path with old leader

A lesson in reaction to John Carpay’s rainbow flag comparison: the cross does not justify lunacy – Coren

I always find it somewhat amusing with the contrast between more reasoned argumentation in mainstream publications and some true colours emerge at an event organized by Rebel Media. As Carpay should know, invoking Hitler or the Nazis means he has lost his arguments (Godwin’s law):

I was shocked when it was revealed that Christian conservative lawyer John Carpay had compared the rainbow flag to the Nazi swastika. Not because Carpay had drawn the grotesque juxtaposition, but because it had taken so long for such a sentiment to be made public.

Last Saturday, Calgary-based Carpay, a leading voice with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, and ubiquitous within social conservatism, spoke at a conference organized by Rebel Media, where the sewers breathe and the ghouls come out to play.

“How do we defeat today’s totalitarianism?” he asked rhetorically. “You’ve got to think about the common characteristics. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hammer and sickle for communism, or whether it’s the swastika for Nazi Germany or whether it’s a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility to individual freedoms.”

He later apologized, explaining that he was actually discussing totalitarianism when he listed the rainbow flag with the emblem under which 12 million people were slaughtered in death camps — including, of course, many gay men. Such apologies are usually signs of being sorry because someone is caught, not because they are genuinely contrite. Change of heart and mind come about not due to pressure, but because of personal conviction.

I’ve known Carpay for many years, and he’s not an evil man. A little eccentric, extremely conservative, but not evil. What he is, however, is a committed right-wing Christian, and that’s a world few of us know well.

In the United States it’s enormously influential, in Canada less so but — as we saw with the leadership victories of Andrew Scheer federally and Doug Ford in Ontario — it can muster perhaps 20 per cent of any conservative race, and thus decide a vote.

At the heart of their beliefs is the conviction that there is a spiritual war taking place, and that the major battlefields are life and sexuality. The rights of women to control their bodies, or of gay men and women to live equally and enjoy the same rights as the heterosexual majority, are not signs of progress or liberty, but a satanic attack on God’s plan, and on the safety and sanctity of the Christian family.

Within evangelical circles and on the right of the Roman Catholic Church it’s a commonplace view, as any casual reading of socially conservative media platforms or blogs will show.

One of the books often quoted is The Pink Swastika, co-authored by the odious Scott Lively. He’s notorious for his anti-gay extremism, has advocated the criminalization of “the public advocacy of homosexuality”, and spread his venom in Uganda and Russia, where LGBTQ people live in fear of their lives. His book, subtitled “Homosexuality in the Nazi Party” is now in its fifth edition. No credible historian takes it at all seriously, but many Christian social conservatives certainly do.

At the epicentre of all this is fear, and in that it is not unlike the cult that has developed around bestselling author Jordan Peterson. Long powerless groups are finally speaking out and up for their rights, and whether they are women, gay, trans, native, or Black, their insistence on justice intimidates many of those who have long taken it for granted.

Within a conservative Christian context, it’s comforting to paint the entire struggle in spiritual colours, because if God is on your side it’s all going to be OK. Problem is, Jesus never mentions homosexuality, and is in fact stunningly indifferent to what some around him insist is sexual sin. Lesbianism is never referred to in the Old Testament, and the subject of homosexuality is spoken of a mere handful of times in the entire Bible. If any demand permeates the Gospels it’s love, acceptance, and the welcoming of the marginalized.

Carpay’s apology is irrelevant. What matters is that reactionaries shame the voice of Christ with their fanaticism, that Nazism is minimized by such grimy propaganda, and that LGBTQ people — still persecuted, humiliated, and killed in large parts of the world — have once again been assaulted.

The rainbow flag is a symbol of liberation, but the swastika is an icon of genocidal horror. That anybody should think otherwise, and use the cross to maintain their lunacy, makes this Christian very angry indeed.

Source: A lesson in reaction to John Carpay’s rainbow flag comparison: the cross does not justify lunacy – Coren