The web page author, Colin McPhedran of Kanata, Ont., is a customer of IGS (Information Gateway Services), and says he never intended for his web page to cause such a stir -- he was merely expressing his political views.
In press releases issued November 8th and 9th, Frank Kahle, VP of IGS, asserted that Colin had published illegal hate propaganda, cited the RCMP as the authority, and indicated the police had instructed him to remove the web page. Police deny they instructed anyone to do anything.
EFC vice-president, Jeffrey Shallit, cautions that despite its apparent offensiveness, this is precisely the kind of political speech we should be wary of the government trying to limit. ``One purpose of Canada's Charter of Rights is to guarantee robust, open debate on public issues of the day. Lucien Bouchard is a public figure and comments on his actions and performance are part of that debate'', he says.
``Imagine if there was an upcoming referendum vote'', Jones adds. ``Silencing one side of the debate could have disastrous consequences for the country. ... and that damage could not be undone if the web pages were restored a week later, after the vote had been taken.''
``This policy of 'censor first, ask questions later' isn't the right strategy'', Jones continues. ``This notion that ISPs should take responsibility for the content published by their customers -- information over which they have little or no effective control -- is one of the weaknesses of the Code of Conduct recently proposed by the Canadian Association of Internet Service Providers (CAIP), which stresses a complaint-driven process and cooperation with government and police, without any clear statement on the importance of freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints.'' EFC has written a letter to CAIP offering some constructive criticism of its Code of Conduct.
Ontario Provincial Police were investigated the situation after receiving several complaints, but have since concluded that no crime occurred, and no charges should be laid. IGS, however, has not yet restored the web pages, which in addition to the anti-Bouchard page included: the 'I Hate the Ottawa Rough Riders' page, the 'Canada First' page, the 'Mr. Bean' page, and Colin's 'Hockey Pool' page.
``This was a case of 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' '', says Jones. ``IGS clearly overreacted.''
Background Information about EFC:
Electronic Frontier fights censorship on the Internet
Globe & Mail, July 23, 1996 (Derek Winkler)
- 'I Hate Lucien Bouchard' web page:
- 'I Sorta Really Dislike Lucien Bouchard' web page:
- Statement condemning "I Hate Lucien Bouchard" web page
- made in House of Commons, 11am, Friday, November 8, 1996
Mauril Bélanger (Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier)
- Internet Home Page
- press release, 08nov96, by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
Sgt. M.G. Hopkins
- IGS Remove Illegal Webpage
- press release, 08nov96, by Information Gateway Services (IGS)
- Events Leading to Removal of Lucien Bouchard "Hate" Web Page
- press release, 09nov96, by Information Gateway Services (IGS)
- Internet Home Page
- press release, 13nov96, by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
Sgt. M.G. Hopkins
- Critique of CAIP Code of Conduct
- letter, 14nov96, from Electronic Frontier Canada to CAIP
- Access blocked to 'I Hate Bouchard' Web page
- Ottawa Citizen, November 9, 1996. (Marty Logan)
- Anti-Bouchard website shut down (transcript)
- CBC Newsworld, November 9, 1996. (Sean Upton)
- Colin McPhedran
- author of controversial web page
- Frank Kahle
- vice-president, IGS - Information Gateway Services
phone: (613) 593-5619
fax: (613) 592-3556
- Mauril Bélanger
- Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier (Liberal)
phone: (613) 992-4766
phone: (613) 789-6352
- Constable J. Picknell
or Sgt. M.G.Hopkins
- investigating officers, Ontario Provincial Police
phone: (613) 592-6061
fax: (613) 592-2982