Ex-Political Prisoner Terry Tremaine Acquitted of Contempt of Court
VANCOUVER. A decision, Tuesday dealt a huge setback to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its efforts to jail a Canadian dissident Internet poster. Terry Tremaine was a frequent poster on STORMFRONT.org as "Mathdoktor99" in 2005 and 2006. He expounded on his White Nationalist and National Socialist beliefs.
Federal Court Judge Sean Harrington ruled that Mr. Tremaine had not been served with a copy of the Federal Court Order enforcing the February, 2007 decision by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering him to "cease and desist" posting "telephonically" certain political messages.
Contempt is of a Federal Court Order not, per se, the CHRT decision. The Human Rights Commission registered the decision in Federal Court in February, 2007 but omitted to serve Mr. Tremaine with notice until August, 2009.
However, the postings in question alleged to violate the Court Order all occurred in 2007.
During the trial earlier this month, Judge Herrington had warned of the serious consequences of a contempt of courtr conviction -- up to five years less a day in prison. Indeed, other political dissidents have become political prisoners here in Canada under this law -- John Ross Taylor twice in 1980s, a year each time, for political messages on his answering machine and more recently Thomas Winnicki of London for Internet messages.
The judge's decision, based on a "technicality" both the National Post (Dec. 1, 2010) and the Toronto Star (Dec. 1, 2010) groused, in fact, was based on a very firm point of law.
"I'm glad it's over and the decision is in our favour, Mr. Tremaine told CAFE, which has backed him since the beginning of his persecution by Richard Warman who filed the original human rights complaint in 2005, a Criminal Code complaint under Sec. 319, the notorious "hate law," in 2006 (still before the courtrs), two complaints alleging contempt of court, and a complaint to the University of Saskatchewan which resulted in Mr. Tremaine losing his job as a lecturer.
"It would have been better if the ruling had upheld our argument that posting material on the Internet is not communication," he added.
The Judge ruled narrowly and did not address defene lawyer Doug Christie's argument that storing data on a U.S. website does not constitute communication. Communication -- and other recent court precedents back him up on this -- occurs only when someone chooses, selects and downloads this data. Thus, the communicator would actually be Richard Warman.
As well, the judge did not address the wording of the order which forbids "telephonic" communication. The defence argued that the wording harkened back to the days when Sec. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act censored telephone answering machines. The Internet, the defence maintained, is not "telephonic" communication.
"This is a small but important victory for freedom of speech," Paul Fromm. Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression said from Vancouver.
"Judge Harrington has saved the Canadian State and agents of thought control like the Canadian Human Rights Commission from embarassing our honour further by putting a man in prison simply for the non-violent expression of his political views."
In its report, the Toronto Star noted: "At the hearing, Tremaine argued that he was being persecuted by Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who filed the complaint against him with the federal human rights commission."
Neo-Nazi acquitted on technicality
National Socialist party head Terry Tremaine flouted tribunal's order
Joseph Brean, National Post · Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
A federal court judge has “reluctantly” acquitted a neo-Nazi former math lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan of contempt of court, even though he “deliberately flaunted” an order of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop his online hate messages.
Terry Tremaine, whose case was launched by hate-hunting lawyer Richard Warman, not only admitted his contempt of the tribunal’s 2007 decision against him, including a fine and a cease-and-desist order, but bragged about it to Justice Sean J. Harrington.
His acquittal on a technicality highlights a quirk of the “quasi-judicial” human rights tribunal system, in which the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can issue orders but not enforce them.
That can only be done by a court, and so the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which prosecutes cases at the Tribunal, registers Tribunal orders in federal court. From then on, they carry the full weight of a court order, and violations can lead to contempt charges.
In this case, however, when the CHRC registered the Tribunal’s decision with the federal court, soon after it was made, they did not inform Mr. Tremaine they had done so.
So although he is in contempt of the CHRT — in that he continued to post messages after the tribunal’s order not to, and was obviously aware of it, because he appealed in federal court — he cannot be in contempt of a federal court order he was never told about, the judge decided.
Mr. Tremaine claimed he was only informed of the order this past August, after this case was heard.
“He is in contempt of the order of the tribunal — indeed, he brags about it and admitted it before me. The issue, however, is whether he is in contempt of this court. I reluctantly conclude he is not.
“The only reason he is not is that the commission failed to bring to his attention the fact that it had registered the tribunal’s order with this court,” the judge wrote.
The CHRC argued the distinction was “artificial,” but failed to convince him.
Mr. Tremaine, who also faces criminal hate speech charges, styled himself as the head of the National Socialist Party of Canada, and ran its website. He also made posts to stormfront.org, a Florida-based white supremacist forum.
“Mr. Tremaine thinks (or perhaps just wishes) he is better than others because of the colour of his skin. He is a white supremacist. Although his dislike of others based on the colour of their skin knows no bounds, he has particular enmity for blacks and Canada’s aboriginal peoples,” Judge Harrington wrote.
“He is also a neo-Nazi. He is virulently anti-Jewish. He draws no distinction between Jewishness and Zionism. According to him, Jews are parasites who will take over the world unless they are stopped. The blacks are their stupid lackeys and the First Nations are in league with them. He is fond of Adolph Hitler; who got it right — even though the Holocaust is a hoax.”
The law under which he was initially charged with hate speech, Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, prohibits repeated online messages that are likely to expose identifiable groups to hatred or contempt.
In a separate case, after Mr. Tremaine’s, the CHRT judged the law unconstitutional because it was designed to be remedial, but in fact carries the threat of punitive fines. That decision is under review in federal court.
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