Neo-nazi ex-prof heads back to court


Former University of Saskatchewan professor finds justice loophole

Tannara Yelland
CUP Prairies and Northern Bureau Chief

SASKATOON (CUP) — Former University of Saskatchewan math professor and unapologetic neo-Nazi Terry Tremaine will soon be back in court.

This latest battle is with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is appealing a federal court’s decision to acquit

Tremaine of a contempt charge he incurred after ignoring the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s initial 2007 ruling.

Tremaine first attracted the CHRC’s attention when complaints surfaced that he was posting racist and anti-Semitic comments to both an American white supremacy website and on a Canadian neo-Nazi website.

In February 2007, the tribunal – the body of the CHRC that rules on cases – found that Tremaine had contravened the Canadian Human Rights Act and issued a “cease and desist order.” He was also fined $4,000.

But the tribunal’s finding is only legally binding if it is filed with the federal court and if the subject of the finding is informed it has been filed. That’s where the system broke down, and where Tremaine found a loophole.

While the tribunal registered its finding with the federal court in February 2007, Tremaine was not made aware of this until 2010.

In his ruling, Harrington acknowledged that Tremaine is “virulently anti-Jewish,” and that he “thinks – or perhaps just wishes – he is better than others because of the colour of his skin.”

Harrington further agreed that Tremaine had violated the tribunal’s order, and was in contempt of the tribunal. However, he was forced to rule that Tremaine was not in contempt of the Federal Court since he was never explicitly made aware of its involvement.

Tremaine’s defence had been that the order he had received from the tribunal did not make it clear that he was ordered to either remove, or attempt to remove, his previous posts from the Internet as well as to stop posting hateful messages.

Harrington accepted this defence and added that because all the posts in question had been made before the federal court order was brought to Tremaine’s attention, he could not be found in contempt of court, despite the fact that Tremaine “brags about” his offensive conduct and is entirely unrepentant.

“The commission's purpose and goal is to ensure that orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are obeyed,” CHRC lawyer Daniel Poulin said in an email. “The Supreme Court once indicated in Taylor case that orders should be obeyed, even if the party disagrees with it, and takes the legal steps to fight it. “

If the CHRC’s appeal is accepted, it will be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Tremaine’s lawyer, Doug Christie, declined to comment, saying only that they “plan to fight the appeal” and that he did not “want to argue [the case] in the media.”

“Justice Harrington's ruling raises important issues in regards to the interpretation of the Federal Court Rules and of the Canadian Human Rights Act, particularly as it relates to the enforcement of tribunal orders,” Poulin said. “It is to clarify the law that the commission is appealing the decision.”

Poulin said that while freedom of expression is important, “there is a need to protect minority groups from intolerance and hate.”

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