Unapologetic neo-Nazi Terry Tremaine is fighting an ongoing legal battle with the Canadian Human Rights Council, which is appealing his recent acquittal on charges of contempt.
The former University of Saskatchewan math professor attracted the CHRC’s attention by posting repeatedly on both an American white supremacy website and on its Canadian division. A complaint was made to the CHRC, and a tribunal examined the case.
In February 2007, the tribunal found that Tremaine had contravened the Canadian Human Rights Act and issued a “cease and desist order.” He was also fined $4,000.
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 that it has been filed. While the tribunal registered its finding with the federal court in February 2007, Tremaine was not made aware of this until 2009.
“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,” CHRC lawyer Daniel Poulin said in a recent email. “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.”
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 eventually ruled that Tremaine was not in contempt of the Federal Court.
Tremaine’s defence had been that the order he received 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 the 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,” Poulin said of the CHRC’s appeal. “The Supreme Court once indicated in the [case of Taylor vs. CHRC] case that orders should be obeyed, even if the party disagrees with it, and takes the legal steps to fight it.
“Our mandate is to enforce the Canadian Human Rights Act.”
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 on the upcoming appeal, saying only that they “plan to fight the appeal” and that he did not “want to argue [the case] in the media.”