Ex-Political Prisoner Brad Love Challenges Parole Gag Orders that Silence Free Speech
REXDALE, MARCH 1, 2011. Former political prisoner Brad Love heads to court, March 3, to learn the results of the Charter challenge argued by his lawyer Patrick Leckie last week. Mr. Love challenged parole conditions imposed several years ago that gag him and all but make him a political non-person.
Original parole conditions prevented him from writing to any of the 20 politicians and police chief who were recipients of the letters at issue in his 2003 conviction under Canada's notorious "hate law" -- Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code. Mr. Love, in a case that has made Canada an international laughingstock was jailed for 18 months -- the stiffest sentence ever under the "hate law" -- for writing non-threatening letters to public officials.
In fact, over a 20 year period, he wrote more than 10,000 letters. They were hard-hitting,. sometimes profane, but never threatening. They sharply criticized one of the sacred cows of political correctness -- Canada's demography changing immigration policy.
Eventually, after two charges of breach of probation, Mr. Love was slapped with a prohibition of writing to ANYONE, either electronically or by post, who had not expressly given him permission. Thus, a complaint to a credit card company about an incorrect charge or a letter to an alderman about a pothole could have landed him in prison. "In terms of being gagged, the house arrest imposed on Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi looks almost benevolent," Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression. told the monthly Alternative Forum meeting in Toronto, February 24, when he introduced Mr. Love. "Oh, yes," he added. "Canada wants to make Suu Kyi an honourary citizen for her battle for free speech. Too bad we don't allow free speech in Canada."
Mr,. Love, the voice of the workingman, sporting his signature baseball hat delivered an impassioned talk to the Alternative Forum. "Your right to free speech comes before your job," he insisted.
The Charter challenge is part of a trial Mr. Love is undergoing as a result of a third charge of breach of probation, arising from letters he wrote to the Canadian Jewish Congress,. the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith and the York University Students' Union early in 2009, twitting them about the "Anti-Israeli Apartheid" events being held on campus.
Mr. Love complained that the Jewish organizations sent little old lady staffers rather than the big boys, like Bernie Farber and Len Rudner, to testify that they'd received letters allegedly from him. "One old lady didn't even know that B'nai Brith is a registered charity and she'd worked there for 14 years," he scoffed. "I wanted to know why she'd shown up in Court to complain against me. Where are the high ranking people from these Jewish groups that sought charges against Ernst Zundel?" he demanded.
"These guys are secretive. Their addresses are unknown and hard to find. I wanted to get these men on the witness stand to admit that their groups are the voice of Israel, a state involved in murder."
In Israel, he argued, "they are tough on illegal immigrants. Yet, if we urge the deportation of illegal immigrants in Canada, Jewish groups are the loudest in protest,. Imagine if Canada had an immigration policy like Israel's -- Jews only?" he added,.
"That shipload of Tamils we've spent $25-million already processing -- imagine if that money had been spend on local seniors homes. But, if you call your MP about that, you just might have a visit from the police because some staffer found your voice 'threatening'," he warned,
Looking forward to Thursday, Mr. Love said: "I hope the judge will see the error of the probation conditions."
As in many Canadian free speech cases, the court's treatment of the accused is abuse by process."I don't know what I've spent in airfares flying from Fort McMurray for court appearances. Every time the case is postponed, I'm out $1,000 airfare, plus car rental, lawyer fees and missed work. I'm dizzy from flying back and forth to Toronto," Mr. Love said.
"Mr. Leckie got me bail in 2003 on some of the 'hate' counts but I was informed that I'd never get out of prison as the 20 counts were divided among several police forces and I wouldn't have enough resources to be bailed out from all of them." We must remember Mr. Love was not charged with a crime of violence but with writing opinionated letters to public officials.
"I tried to retain two bodyguards for personal security when the trial began last fall as I feared protests from Jewish groups. I approached three different security firms. Once they found out who the potential threat was, these firms cancelled out on me," he recalled.
"Why is a 52 year old workingman flying out here to Toronto on a probation charge over writing letters?" he demanded. His sister-in-law pledged over $110,000 as a surety against her home and Mr. Love added $22,000 cash bail. "There's a whole courtroom dedicated to Brad Love." he noted.
"Imagine if I could subpoena 90,000,000 Egyptians," Mr. Love mused. "They'd say: 'We overthrew a government and changed history and you're persecuting a man who wrote letters!'"
"The judge should ask the Crown: 'Why are you prosecuting this guy? He's not even living in this province."
Mr. Love is scathing about the media. None has shown up to cover this important challenge of a judge's power to use probation to gag political dissent.
This case is political, Mr. Love noted. "For a minor alleged breach of probation like this most people would be out on their parents' signature." Instead Mr. Love's bail is greater than that posted by many people facing manslaugher charges.