This is a mood-setting background description – for the actual event itself, please, see here.
Finally, the day is here: Eric Brazeau will have his appeal motion hearing today!
What’s more: I am going to get to watch history be made!!!
For a wordy account of my journey here and the impressions of the courthouse, please, see here (written in the in-between time from when my bus arrived downtown Toronto to when I got to enter the courthouse, so it sets the atmosphere outside and is indulgently loquacious).
In the hour-and-a-half while I was outside in the foggy Toronto dawn (the direct sun rays never reached street level), I managed to get….sunburned. Now, my face is pink and turning redder and itchier by the minute! But, I digress!
It took me a while to find the proper place to go: that is the cost of showing up at the courthouse before the daily schedule does. Helpful people try to give you the best advice they can, but they just might send you to another building a block away and it just might take you an hour to get back to where you were in the beginning.
But, this time, the schedule was posted and I had no trouble going up the escalator and down the long corridor and around the corner, all the way to courtroom 2-6, where Eric’s case is scheduled to be heard at 10am.
There are no chairs just outside courtroom 2-6, so, at 9:15am, I am sitting around the corner, in front of 2-4, hoping that I’ll see other people who come here to support Eric and/or report on this incredibly important lawsuit and typing all this in, so that I may report to you, my dear readers, my freshest impressions of this day.
The Toronto courthouse is extremely different from the Ottawa one. First of all, the security is much, much tighter.
Of course, after the October terrorist attack in Ottawa, the security in the Ottawa courthouse also increased: main entrance only, checking bags etc. But, as of March, metal detectors and such were only used in select cases, placed in front of select courtrooms. Here, we are talking full TSA workup, with dire warnings that if they find even the tiniest pen-knife, you will be arrested and thrown in jail, never to see the light of day again, as will your children, and your children’s children and… OK, I may be paraphrasing a bit, but that is the general gist of the warning. I was a bit afraid they might confiscate my Redbull, as getting wings might seem dangerous, but I got lucky!
And while the security people checking bags and people coming in were friendly enough, in an officious kind of way (asking cheerfully if I’m showing up for jury duty), the security guard nearby the desk that lists the daily roster would do an about face and march in a different direction if a person even threatened to try to catch his eye.
The Ottawa guys are different: they go out of their way to be helpful, thinking of ways to search for your case (and, yes, at times, it almost seems like the way the cases are listed is meant to confuse and discourage). Let’s hope the Ottawa guys keep their friendly demeanour.
While waiting for 10 o’clock to arrive, I stuck up a conversation with a nice lady sitting next to me. As we were chatted amiably, I explained why I was there and why Eric’s case was such an important one.
She took a great interest in it. At the time, she heard something about some stuff happening on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), but from the mainstream newspapers, she did not understand what it was all about. When she learned that Eric was still in jail, just because he said out loud that he did not like a specific religion, she was very angry on his behalf!
She confided that once, not that long ago, she was taken aback by a fundie (that is short for Christian fundamentalist) co-worker who had expressed a rather homophobic belief. She did not like it, and explained to he co-worker that she did not like it, but she thought that it would have been wrong to stop the co-worker from saying out loud what she truly believes, even if it was stupid!
And I fully agreed with her!
The best response to bad speech is more good speech.
Yes, she agreed, because of the danger of driving bad speech underground, where it would gain power precisely because it was persecuted!!!
I was so happy to hear that she gets it! She really, really gets it!
Perhaps there is still hope for our citizens!
It was on this note of high expectations that I am packing up and getting ready to enter the courtroom.
What is worse, these young Muslims who organized the event – well, more than a few of them have a history of vitriolic anti-Semitism…it was nothing more that a publicity stunt.
We cannot be reminded of this often enough: