Interesting cases being heard before Eric Brazeau’s motion to appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

At 10 to 10, I made my way into the Courtroom #2-6.

What I describe below is what lead up to Eric’s case – to skip to it directly, please, go here.

It was packed with a murder of lawyers – wait, that is for crows.  When it comes to lawyers, is it a gaggle? Or a pride?

Whatever it is, it certainly has an air all of its own.  They were swarming back and forth, checking notes, striding towards each other and sharing hushed conversations and abruptly striding away again.  Had they been wearing wigs, it could have been straight out of David Copperfield!

No sight of Eric.

At the stroke of 10, Madam Justice Kelly (? – I was in such a rush to get in, I didn’t check the name walking in and the roster was gone later… but one of the lawyers down the hall thought it might just have been Justice Kelly…..please, dear readers, forget me my sloppiness) promply came in, took her place and after the customary pomposity (‘Hear yee, hear yee, anybody having business to be heard before the crown…..’ something like that, they do stand on their ceremonies, and rightly so!  After all, we ARE the Children of the Magna Carta!) got to business in a most practival and efficient way.

And I mean efficient:  before I even got oriented, the first case was over!

Now, please, let me explain the layout of courtroom #2-6 at 361 University Avenue in Toronto:  it will explain why, in addition to not having any legal training whatsoever and therefore only understanding the proceedings through my highly imperfect layman’s prism, I had a bit of a hard time hearing everything that was going on.

Like most Ontario Courtrooms, this one was wall paneled; what was new to me were the three huge panels of marble decorated with a brightly painted coat of arms.  I could not find a pic of an identical one, but this one is pretty similar.

In front of this, on a raised platform, was the large desk of the judge.

Below/in front of this, also elevated, but less, were the desks of the court clerk, transcript person, and so on and so on.  Two rows of them, descending in height.

Then come the counsel tables.  Usually, there is only one row of these with the lectern splitting them or to one side of both of them.  Well, in courtroom #2-6, there were many, many more.

It was a bit confusing with all the penguins lawyers striding around, but I think there were 4 rows of 4 tables, with the lectern in the middle of the second row.  And different lawyers had very important documents spread out on each table.

To the right of the room, on the judge’s left, but really close to her desk at the back of the room, was the jury box with the jury door in the back wall beyond it.

Following all the lawyer desks,  there was a low wooden barrier with a couple of breaks in it for people to get from the lawyer area to the spectator area and vice versa.  In the middle, between the two breaks, there was the penalty box, with about six or eight seats in it and a plexiglass barrier separating it from the spectator area.

Next came the benches for us, the spectators, and a couple of chairs for the bailiffs, and the doors to the hallway beyond.

Why such a detailed description?

Well, my dear readers, the distance from the judge to the spectator area was quite large….as was the distance from the lectern, from which most of the lawyers spoke…facing the judge and away from the spectators, making it difficult to hear…  My apologies.

Still, I did manage to glean the gist of at least a few of the cases that were heard before Eric’s came up – and, my dear readers, they made my head spin.

And not in a good way…

So, permit me to finally commence the narration!

#1

As I said, I quite missed the first case.

#2

The second case was that of a man who had been sentenced for a 2 year suspended sentence for an assault with a weapon.  And while the maximum possible sentence for this offense was up to 10 years in prison, so getting only 2 years suspended was not so bad, there was a bit of a problem…

A two year sentence would affect this man’s immigration status!!!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but….

The very reason why any criminal sentence of 2 years and more is supposed to be considered by the immigration people is precisely because we do not want people who commit serious criminal acts to be permitted to settle among us.  Yet, over and over during this morning, sentences and dates were manipulated in order to actively prevent immigration boards from learning of the criminal activities of the people before them….

But, I am getting ahead of myself!

Now, this guy had time to appeal this tiny slap on the wrist of a sentence when he was first convicted, but he had not done so….because he did not realize the immigration board would learn of it.

AND IF THE IMMIGRATION BOARD HAD LEARNED HE WAS A CRIMINAL, IT MIGHT ‘PREJUDICE’ THEIR ASSESSMENT OF HIS STATUS!!!

IT IS SUPPOSED TO!!!

So, this joker’s lawyer was claiming that since knowing about his clients criminal sentence would be ‘prejudicial’, the court ought to let him appeal the sentence, even though it was way over a year since the appeal deadline had gone…

And the judge – and the judge GRANTED IT!!!

Yes.

The judge agreed to conspire to defraud the immigration board and prevent them from learning evidence necessary for them to fairly evaluate this man’s immigration application.

And this is called the justice system?!?!?

#3

The very next hearing had immigration implications as well.

It turns out that this particular person has plead guilty to some serious charges which I didn’t quite catch, but they were serious enough to require a sentence longer than 2 years in jail.

And this person’s sentencing hearing was scheduled just a week before his immigration hearing!!!

Of course, being sentenced to two or more years of jail, as this individual was bound to be, based on whatever it was he had plead guilty to, would be prejudicial to the immigration hearing...

So, the judge summarily moved the sentencing to be the week after the immigration hearing, successfully keeping them in the dark about this future resident’s undisputed serious criminal history.

ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I suspect I lost about 30% of my hair listening to just these last 2 cases alone…

#4

Moving a pre-trial date, no details.  Done.

During all this time, lawyers are coming and going.  Usually, when the court is in session, nobody breathes a word, yet during all this, people lawyers were striding back and forth and consulting importantly in hushed voices…making it that much harder to hear the real action!

When the people concerned in the cases were even brought to court (not all were, choosing to have their lawyers be there in their stead), they would either step up from the spectator benches or, if incarcerated, the bailiffs would sneak them in (while the action was going on) through the jury door and sit them, one at a time, in the jury seats.  Even though they were the accused, and most demonstrably not the jury.  You knew they were the accused because before they were seated, among much clattering, the bailiffs would remove their shackles…

#5

A Mr. Henry wanted his case to be severed from a Mr. Brown’s case, and the trial to be moved from June 2015 to some time in 2016.

Done.

Whatever happened to ‘justice delayed is justice denied’?

OK – I stopped taking note of the # of the case, as some that were brought in were not actually scheduled for today…yet still no sight of Eric!

At this point, another dude was brought in – and this time, he was put not into the jury box, but into the penalty box.  A second, different dude was put into the jury box and unshackled.  He was a Mr. Williams – not on the docket for the day, but…

It seems the guy in the penalty box is being held as a material witness in another case in which he is to testify on Monday, and the Crown wanted him held until that time so that they would be sure to be able to produce him as a witness.

The judge asked him his position and he said that was OK, as long as they would let him get a shower and shave and get clean clothes (the raw-linen blazer he was wearing was wrinkled and a size too small) and she happily made the order to say so.

The next case was that of a Mr. Farouk, who needed his court date moved.

Done.

This judge is most certainly efficient!!!!

At this point, the Crown and some of the lawyers started talking to the judge about scheduling, who is to go next and so on.  As Eric was listed as self-represented and no mention was made of his case, I was getting worried that without a legal advocate, he might get lost in the shuffle…

Still, I held my breath and hoped for the best!

The next case was a very sad sob story.

You see, a certain Me. Villenouve (sp?) was caught with a somewhat incriminating amnout of narcotics.

He stepped up to face the judge from the spectator ranks – obviously, he had not been in custody prior to his trial date.

Mr. V. chose to be judged not by a jury, but by a judge alone and entered a plea of guilty.

The court learned that he had been found to be in possession of:

42 grams of Ecstasy

(?) grams of Hashish

231 grams of pot

22 grams of crack cocaine

The defendant pleaded guilty to everything but the Ecstasy – which, he claimed, belonged to his SO.

And there were extenuating circumstances:  his SO, you see, was addicted to drugs and this 50-year-old-man did not realize that this was a bad thing.  Nor did he realize that having all these drugs on him was a bad thing.

Plus he has been on disability for years – see, he is the victim here!!!!

He told the court he did it out of love, and he was sorry, and knew he was a bad boy and would never ever do it again!  Pinky swear!

Now, this 50-year-old man looked rough, wore gray sweat-pants and brown leather jacket to court…and walked out a free man!

OK – there were some conditions on 20 month conditional sentence.  But, he walked out of the courtroom, no jail time for him.

The next case was of a Richard something – and they were using a Spanish interpreter for him.  With all the background noise, and the interpreter speaking simultaneously to other people, it was difficult to make out the details – at first.  But, this case did drag on a bit and I think I got the gist of it.

You see, Richard is a refugee from Venezuela.

He was biking down the street when he passed a 79-year-old lady.  He stopped his bike, leaned it against something and walked up to her asking for directions to somewhere,

When she tried to help him, Richard pulled out some pliers, attacked her, cut the gold chain about her neck and stole the crucifix that had hung on it.

He then tried to hide behind some bins or cars, but the highly traumatized victim saw him and alerted a bystander who affected a citizen’s arrest until the police arrived.

When arrested, Richard gave the cops a fake name and it took them hours to properly id him.

OK, so Richard is the bad guy, right?

But here is an unexpected twist:  the 79-year-old victim wanted to only testify from behind a screen.

For me – that is a deal-breaker:  everyone MUST have the right to face their accuser.  If you want to hide – no case.  End of discussion.

That the judge even considered it makes my skin crawl!

This is so deeply against the principles of common law, as stated in the Magna Carta, that I cannot express the depth of disgust I feel for a court willing to subvert justice in this manner!!!

However, instead of pouncing on this cornerstone of justice, the defense entered such irrelevant facts as that the accused’s sister is a 50-year-old house cleaner and that his son, back in Venezuela, is in a hospital.

SO?!?!?!?

You have a perfectly principled reason to scream that justice is being denied (not being permitted to face the accuser), yet the defense brings in irrelevant and frivolous crap?

What is happening to our ‘justice’ system?!?!?

Finally, the crown asked for Richard to serve 5 months and 28 days for this whole mess, which would actually be equivalent to the time he had already spent in jail.  They went through the complicated loops and jumps they had to go through to arrive at ‘time served’…and, again, some sort of immigration complication was raised the meaning of which I did not fully grasp.

What I DID grasp was that during this bit, another man was brought in and put into the jury box:  it was the first time two people were in the jury box!

Now, when they brought him in and unshackled him, I was not sure it was Eric:  I had never met him in person, having only known him from YouTube, emails and a few phone conversations.

Yet, this person might have been Eric…

The long gray hair and mid-chest long and rather majestic ‘Santa beard’ did not belong to the Eric I had seen on YouTube, the keen eyes did!

Yes!!!!

It was Eric!!!

And HIS case was next!!!!

Waiting for Eric Brazeau’s appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

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.

Going to the Eric Brazeau appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

This is a mood-setting background description – for the actual event itself, please, see here.

COURT HOUSE

361 UNIVERSITY AVENUE

That is what the carved letters beneath the royal crown on the wall of a 70’s, perhaps 60’s looking stubby concrete building said.

Nestled in the shade of the CN Tower and skyscrapers looming all around, it looked more like a prison fortress than a hall of justice.

Right in front of the downtown Toronto Court House was an indulgently big open space – inlaid brick and slate slabs, of course, greenery only in confined concrete grave-beds, and of the prickly kind too. Perhaps some of the bushed might look friendlier, had they had any leaves, but on this cool, damp and foggy April morning, they were only prickly sticks, as bare and lifeless as the concrete building beyond them.

This urban opening – is it a park? – seems made even more open because University Avenue is a split road, with a wide median, keeping the buildings opposite farther than most city streets manage to. And, in addition to the squat bunker of a courthouse, there are several other ‘historical’ buildings which boast their opulence by not being tall: every square meter in the heart of Toronto’s downtown is serious money, so a building that is short is, in fact, wasting tons of money each minute it refuses to grow tall!

In order to attend the courthouse today, to hear the appeal in the case of Eric Brazeau, Canada’s honest-to-goodness political prisoner, I took the overnight bus from my home to Toronto, thinking this would be a convenient way to spend the night and arrive refreshed and ready to go. I can sleep quite comfortably on an airplane, in a car, so, why not a bus? After all, these days, long distance buses have more legroom than airplanes!

My 5-1/2 hour bus ride was to start at 1 am, so arrived at the station nice and early (2+hours ahead), so my poor, long-suffering hubby could get to bed. There I discovered that while the seating at the Ottawa bus depot is plentiful, it is uniquely uncomfortable… Oh, well. I put my earbuds in and listened to the audiobooks of ‘The Song of Ice and Fire’ by GRR Martin.

I read the books years ago, then followed the show faithfully. Now that the narratives of the two are set to diverge in the 5th season of the show, I thought I’d refresh my memory of the books by listening to the audiobooks of them when I had insomnia or time on my hands – like a bus ride between Ottawa and Toronto!

My plan seemed flawless….the key word being ‘seemed’!

It turns out that the seats on this particular doggy bus are even more uncomfortable than the Ottawa bus depot ones!

Not only is the seat short and somewhat forward sloped, making you feel like you will slide off the smooth surface of the seat with every slight breaking of the vehicle, the back rest is concave so that if your lower back is actually touching the seat, your head and shoulders are thrust into an aching forward-crouching position. And since the seat is so short, trying to sit sideways will jolt your ‘hanging’ hip with every pothole on the highway. And in today’s Ontario, the potholes on the highways are exquisite!

I was glad to escape my little torture-chamber on wheels when we reached the downtown Toronto bus depot at 6:30 in the morning! Making my way through the throng of waiting and eager taxi drivers, I walked the few short blocks from the bus depot to the courthouse, only stopping briefly at Timmy’s to pick up a tea.

Aside: I’ve discovered a most amusing way to converse with our British cousins! One time, in a line-up (queue for our cousins) I struck up a conversation with a couple of Brits in front of us. Inevitably, the Canadian obsession with Tim Horton’s came up. I professed my deep love and appreciation for fine tea, which met with their full appreciation. I ended by pointing out that tea just does not taste the same if it is served in anything but a Timmy’s paper cup!

 I thought they were going to choke! But, eventually, they seemed comforted by the thought that I was just joking them – so I left them happy.

Currently, I am sitting on a cold concrete bench in front of that dungeon-ish courthouse and waiting for 8 o’clock, when the doors are supposed to open. Hence the, perhaps, over-sharing of my impressions and experiences so far.

My apologies.

As I am sitting here, typing, the sun is beginning to shine and burn off the early fog. It looks like it will be a glorious day outside! Let’s just hope that it will be as glorious inside…

Looking around, one cannot miss the centerpiece of this urban square: a nod to the Greek roots of our democracy. Sort of…

It is a statue-type thingy with the triangular roof resembling an ancient Athenian temple, but instead of supported by Greek pillars, it is supported by 12 flat, two-dimensional grey metal abstract representations of humans. 3 males and 3 females on each the front and back. These abstractions of the human figures are featureless – no faces, no arms: so the ‘triangle of justice’ roof thingy is not being supported by their arms, it is standing on their heads.

Let’s hope the justice meted out beyond them today will not also be standing on its head….

Guest Post by Connie Fournier: Why Conservatives Should Oppose Bill C-51

Connie Fournier wrote an excellent analysis of Bill C-51.  I agree with every word she says – and more!  Let’s not loose sight of the admission that our security forces are already treating anti-Jihad bloggers exactly the same way as actual Jihadi terrorists…

Xanthippa’s first law of Human Dynamics says:  Any and every law passed will be misused in its hyperbolic absurdity…eventually.  Please do keep in mind while evaluating the proposed law, Bill C-51!

Right now, we have perfectly good laws we could use to reign in the terrorists:  but, we don’t.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that since existing laws are not used against terrorists, the proposed Bill C-51 would be, if enacted: rather, it seems more likely that it would be just as abused as existing laws are!

Connie Fournier gave me permission to publish this as a guest-post by her.  I agree with every single word she wrote!!!

Much has been said recently about the “anti-terrorism” Bill C-51 that is currently being debated in the House of Commons.

I have been quite vocal about the fact that I oppose this Bill, but I haven’t gone into a lot of detail as to why. I think it is important for my fellow conservatives to understand that this is not a partisan issue. Just because it is mainly the NDP and the Green Party who have spoken out against it doesn’t mean that conservatives shouldn’t have grave concerns as well. My concerns are well-founded, and they are based on personal experience.

Many of the critics of this Bill have referred to cases where environmental and First Nations activists have discovered that they were targeted and spied upon by government agencies, and the point has been made that Bill C-51 would only make it easier for the government to spy on and “disrupt” non-criminal, non-terrorist Canadian citizens.

Now, I’m going to be perfectly forthright here and talk to my fellow conservatives who, perhaps, take these allegations with a grain of salt, or feel that there might be some justification in having the government keep on eye on the “lefties”, anyway. This Bill is so open-ended that it can be used by any future government to spy on and “disrupt” any citizen for virtually any reason.

Even if it were true that our government agencies have only been targeting the people you disagree with (and I will be demonstrating shortly that that is not the case), we have to realize that it will not always be a Conservative government that calls the shots. I think it is extremely important that you read the scholarly reviews done by people like Michael Geist and Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, then take that information and imagine what your opinion on this Bill would be if Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair were Prime Minister and they had this power at their disposal.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Bill is the section on information sharing. Michael Geist points out at the link above that it lists 17 government departments, including the CRA, CSIS, CSE, RCMP and the Department of National Defence, and it allows them to freely share our personal information. This would include information that is obtained by CSIS and the CSE by hacking our websites and email or tapping our cellphones…and they are allowed to disclose it “in accordance with the law…to any person, for any purpose.” This is in Section 6.

Imagine for a moment if you are an opposition MP and the government has the power to collect and freely distribute all of the private information they can obtain about you. Do you think it would be used against you? Or do you think that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear?

The part of the Bill that concerns me most is that provides CSIS with the power to “disrupt” groups of Canadian citizens. This word sets off alarm bells for a couple of reasons.

First, it is a word that was used in a “Five Eyes” powerpoint presentation that was released some time ago by Edward Snowden. The “Five Eyes” countries include Canada, the USA, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. This presentation was given to the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group and it was entitled, “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations”.

This powerpoint presentation talks about how government agents can go about sabotaging online groups that they want to be silenced. These groups need not be criminals or terrorists, they simply describe them as “hacktivists”. These documents call this activity “Online Covert Action”, and say it consists of the “3 D’s” – Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Deceive. One of the documents outright declares that they are “pushing the boundaries” when they speak of deliberately destroying their targets’ reputations, infiltrating groups and using psychology to “disrupt” them, and in manipulating and controlling the information that is posted online.

Secondly, this is where it becomes personal. Beginning in the Spring of 2006, government operatives began signing up on our discussion forum, Free Dominion. We have since identified operatives from the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), the Department of Defence, at least one Police Department, and many, many posters using proxies who posted divisive or racist comments in our forum. In 2007 we received a Section 13 complaint with regard to a link that was posted on our site. We reacted strongly and publicly to the complaint and it was later dropped.

There were many attempts made to discredit us personally:

– People (many of them anonymous) accused us of being racists/Nazis.
– Someone created a youtube account in my name and added a bunch of Nazi videos to it so it would appear I endorsed those views.
– Someone signed me up for “teen porn”, and when the IP address of the person responsible was investigated by the police, Bell told the police that there was a “gap” in their log files for the time period in question so they could not provide subscriber information.

On one occasion, a woman showed up at my husband Mark’s work pretending to be his aunt, and asking about our assets, and an Access to Information Request showed that the Department of Justice and the CHRC were circulating emails about us and articles about our court cases.

We don’t believe that it is any coincidence that the self-described strategy of the government employee who sued us four times and ultimately caused the forum to be closed, is called “Maximum Disruption”. The fact that that same word shows up in the “Five Eyes” powerpoint, and that it also shows up in Bill C-51 is, to say the least, chilling.

In 2006 we had the most active conservative political forum in Canada. After nine years of various kinds of “disruption”, we have had to close the forum, and thousands of Canadian conservatives have lost their online voice. Even if you believe that the Conservative government had nothing to do with what happened to us and that it is just a coincidence that the Five Eyes documents encourage exactly this kind of activity, I urge you to ask yourself this:

1) Do you trust government operatives to handle their open-ended freedom to “disrupt” us in a responsible way?

2) Do you think that you can trust every future Prime Minister to use these new powers in a way that is not abusive?

3) Are you comfortable with government agencies having the right to share your private information with anyone they please for any reason? And, lastly,

4) are you comfortable with the fact that the power to disrupt us is so broad that the writers of this bill felt is was necessary to stipulate that agents aren’t allowed to rape or kill us?

Many of us fought hard against the intrusiveness of the gun registry, and against the ambiguous wording and undemocratic usage of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. We were right in fighting those things. Now let’s not forget the principles that motivated us in those fights and allow fear or partisan politics to blind us to the even more dangerous provisions in Bill C-51. Just because it is a Conservative government that is proposing this legislation does not mean that we can relenquish our civic duty to examine what they are doing, to hold them accountable, and to protect the freedoms that were fought and earned with the blood of our parents and grandparents.

I am not willing to completely give up my inheritance of liberty and privacy out of fear of potential terrorists. If we give it all up, the terrorists have won.

Thoughts on the Ruling in Baglow Vs. Freedom of Speech

For the background on this case, please see here.

For the full ruling, see here.

Prior to the closing arguments, I begged John Baglow to, please, stop this lawsuit, even at such a late date.  I promised I’d help him fundraise to cover his costs if he, even at this point, called the whole thing off.

Why?

Because I firmly believed that any ruling on this case would necessarily be a loss for freedom of speech and a disaster for all of us who socialize on the interwebitudes!

And I was right!

Yes, Connie and Mark Fournier, as well as Peter O’Donnel, have won because even though Madam Justice Polowin found the comments to be defamatory, she also found them to be fair comment and dismissed the case.

So, yes, the Fourniers and POD have won.

But it is a bittersweet victory for them and a decided loss for freedom of speech in the internet.

Let me explain why…

First, let’s name the elephant in the room:  the process is the punishment.

Baglow has dragged the defendants through the court system for years and cost them tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in court costs and lost time/productivity.  Yet, in her wisdom, Madam Justice Polowin did not order Baglow to pay the Fournier’s court costs.

Not having any training in legal matters, I find this mindblowing.

If the words were deemed to be ‘fair comment’, as Madam Justice Polowin had ruled, why should the Fourniers and POD have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, travel and accommodations in order to defend themselves against what she has ruled is a baseless accusation?

And why should they have to pay half the costs of a court expert in internet communication:  an ‘expert’ who is so very up on internet communication and customs that he testified that he’s never ever heard of Godwin’s Law?!?!?

Really?

An internet communication expert who’s never heard of Godwin’s Law?

Expert?

Come on, this is a joke!!!

Even my mother-in-law, who needs help logging on to Facebook, has enough internet savvy to know Godwin’s Law, aka reducto ad Hitlerum…

But, that is besides the point:  the bitter lump of coal (actually, coal is not that bitter, but you know what I mean…) here is that while the defendants may have been found innocent, but they still get punished by not having their costs covered and having to pay for an ‘expert’ which would not have been necessary had the judge had even high-school level knowledge of the online world around her.

Second, I most vociferously disagree with some of her rulings on a the various issues raised in the case, because they will, in a very real sense, cause a serious chill in online communications.  It will probably take me multiple readings to fully analyse the significant damage this ruling poses to freedom of speech, but, one of her rulings practically jumps out at me.

This is the ruling that providers of an online discussion space are considered to be the publishers of what other people post to these fora, whether this is moderated or not.

This spells a disaster for every blogger that permits comments and makes the running of un-pre-moderated discussion fora a very serious liability danger:  most will probably be limited to permitting only politically correct speech and no discussion of controversial topics whatsoever.

In reality, Madame Justice Polowin ruling means that, for example, WordPress or Blogger, by providing a platform for publication with the aim for people to come there and exchange ideas, that this makes WordPress or Twitter etc. the publishers of that communication and just as liable for the words published on their platform by third parties as if they themselves had written it.

Just think about the impact this ruling will have…

Sorry, I’ve got to leave this here for now….you see, dear reader, I suddenly have this terrible pounding headache….

From my inbox: Zero jail time for anti-Semitic violence in Calgary

Please, remember that Eric Brazeau got no bail and 20 months in jail for non-violent, non-threatening politically incorrect conversation on public transit.  The prosecution’s witnesses all agreed that there was no hint of violence and that they never, ever felt threatened during the conversation.

Yet, 20 months in jail:  when the prosecution was seeking 6.

And a reminder that ‘language can be a weapon’….and then the judge imposed ‘a weapon ban’ on Brazeau!

Aside:  Can anyone explain to me how one can impose ‘a language ban’ on someone?  Are we talking a lobotomy here?

So, let’s recap:  Brazeeau was not violent, did not call for the death or beating of anyone, and the most offensive thing he said was that he hated someone.  Not that anyone else should, just expressed his own emotional state.

20 months in jail.

Now, let’s look at what had happened in Calgary:

Pro-Palestinian protesters not only shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ at pro-Israel demonstrators, they actually physically attacked them and roughed them up!  Forcing them to flee to avoid more serious injury!

Here, see for yourselves:

What do you think our judicial system will do with someone who not only shouts hateful things at their political opponents, but actually physically attacks and injures them?!?!?

Well, if 20 months is the punishment for a conversation, then threats and actual physical violence would earn one at least a few years behind bars, right?

Wrong!!!

From my inbox today:

Dear Xanthippa,

The first rioter from last year’s pro-Hamas rally in Calgary was sentenced today for his assault against peaceful Calgary civilians. And his sentence is so lenient, he won’t spend even a single day in jail.

He has one year probation, and some community service. That’s it. For beating up Jews, on Calgary streets, that sent a half dozen peaceful pro-Israel protesters to the hospital. You can watch a video of the riot here.

I can’t even tell you this thug’s name — since he was 17 at the time of his violence, it’s against the law for me to identify him. So his name and face are a secret. Not only will he serve no time in jail, but he won’t suffer any social marginalization or shame from his role. No employer will know; no neighbourhood will know.

Today I spoke on the phone with Jake Birrell, one of the victims of the riot. He told me that while his sister Samantha’s victim impact statement was read out in court, the young thug actually smirked and smiled — he appeared completely remorseless.

I wanted you to know about this right away. I will have Jake and Samantha on my TV show tomorrow at 8 & 10 p.m. ET (6 & 8 p.m. Alberta time). I’ll send you an e-mail with a link to the video tomorrow night, in case you miss it on TV.

I’ll have them describe what it was like going to court — expecting justice — and watching this young anti-Semitic rioter just walk right out of the court with a smile.

We have so much more work to do on this — starting with our justice system, that has chosen to treat a violent pro-Hamas thug as if he’s just some random street urchin.

I’ll keep you posted.

Yours truly,

Ezra Levant

P.S. Jake tells me that the other rioters had their court dates rescheduled — when I confirm those details, I’ll let you know. Maybe if the judges see real citizens in the courtroom, they’ll feel moral pressure to hand out real sentences too.

And that is what passes for justice in Canada!!!

Andrew Napolitano – The First Jury Nullification

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