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Save Free Speech Now!

A MATTER OF JUSTICE

Doug Collins

Jan 12, 2001

Do not go gently into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light — Dylan Thomas.

This is hot off the presses, as it were. The B.C. Appeal Court has just decided, in its wisdom, that I cannot have a judicial review of this province’s outrageous heresy laws without first going back to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that censored and fined me. It should then consider whether what it did was constitutional!

Confusing. So here’s some background.

In 1998 the tribunal heard a complaint against me from a Jew in Victoria by the name of Harry Abrams of B’Nai Brith. In his view, four columns of mine hurt his feelings and contravened the Human Rights Code in that they were “likely” to bring him and his brethren into “hatred and contempt.” Not that they had actually done so. As far as he personally was concerned he hadn’t even been mentioned in them. But “likely” was the operative word.

Anything or nothing is “likely”, of course. In the U.S.S.R., kulaks could be sent to concentration camps because they were “likely” to be hostile to Stalin. Here in the Socialist Republic of British Columbia we haven't yet got the camps but the principles of suspicion are the same.

Your man Doug and the newspaper for which he worked were found guilty. Abrams was awarded $2,000 for his allegedly hurt feelings and the newspaper was told to run the decision in full, which was an infringement of freedom of the press. Even the regular courts cannot make such a ruling.

Also strange was that although the tribunal found that, taken individually, the columns in question were not in breach of the misnamed Code, collectively they were. A real head-scratcher, that, but we are now living in a strange world.

Lawyer Doug Christie offered to act for me, and I briefed him to go for a judicial review of the Code. If successful, such a review would render the offending portions of the law null and void, which is a consummation devoutly to be desired, B.C.’s rights to free expression having been removed. And not since Confederation has a writer been forced before a government-appointed tribunal to defend an opinion column.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge denied the application for a review on the grounds that we should first go back to the tribunal so that it could “finish its task” and consider whether it had acted constitutionally. We went to the Appeal Court in the hope of getting that judgment overturned.

As stated, the application was denied.This in spite of the fact that in a previous human rights case, the issue did go directly to court. But it was clear to me after the first hour of the hearing that the appeal judges would rule against us. Body language and attitudes conveyed the message.

Our morally corrupt government, pulled out all the stops. The lawyer for the attorney general of the province was on parade, as were lawyers for the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal. Why? Because Premier Ujjal Dozanjh & Co are desperate to prevent their law from being scrutinized by the judiciary.

Mr. Christie made a magnificent case for justice and common sense. But laws are one thing and justice is another. The government side, meanwhile, provided arguments incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.

What now? Fight on, that’s what. No doubt the government hopes that because of my age I’ll kick the bucket before long. But as that old Scot Sir Andrew Barttron said, “I am hurt but I am not slain. I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile, and then I’ll fight again.” In short, I’ll take myself back to the tribunal and ask it whether what it did was constitutional. I’ll do so without a lawyer because while the government has limitless funds, our side does not. It is also obvious that, lawyer or no lawyer, the tribunal’s answer is certain. It would be news indeed if it ruled against itself.

Once the tribunal has determined that it is without fault, we’ll use the limited funds at our disposal to get that judicial review, and trust that we can beat both B’Nai Brith and the Evil Empire of the Republic of British Columbia. After all, neither the validity of this socialist Code nor the merits of this case have yet been tested in court.

Dylan Thomas said it all in two lines. And as a lesser wordsmith put it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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