OTTAWA — Canada’s top court will not hear an appeal in a case involving a neo-Nazi leader’s web postings that could have determined the power of Canada’s quasi-judicial human rights tribunals.
Regina’s Terry Tremaine, the head of the National-Socialist Party of Canada and a former university math lecturer, was found in contempt of court by the Federal Court of Appeal in November 2011 for refusing to remove web postings he made about blacks, Jews and First Nations people.
He had previously flouted a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found his postings were hate speech and ordered that he stop posting discriminatory messages and pay a $4,000 fine.
Human rights tribunal scores victory over neo-Nazi
The tribunal, like other similar bodies that operate in parallel with Canada’s criminal and civil law systems, can impose financial penalties and even jail time, but its powers to enforce rulings are limited.
That was a point not lost on Tremaine, who declined to remove his Internet postings.
Tremaine claimed that the tribunal had no power to enforce the ruling.
He was then found in contempt of court, and his appeals argued that the commission’s quasi-judicial status meant it was not technically court he could be in contempt of.
Made under the moniker “mathdoktor99,” Tremaine’s postings called Jews a “parasitic race” and said “blacks are intellectually inferior to whites” and “Hitler was a lot nicer to the Jews than they deserved,” according to the tribunal’s judgment.
The Federal Court of Appeal in November, and now the Supreme Court, breathed new life into the ability of quasi-judicial tribunals — not only those dealing with human rights — to issue orders that must be complied with.
The November decision gave tribunals the full weight of the law, and it now stands as the final word on the case.
Tremaine must comply with the tribunal’s order or face penalties for contempt of court.
In a burdensome process, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which prosecutes cases at the tribunal, registers tribunal orders in Federal Court to give them the weight of court authority.
The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a fine of any amount.
During a hearing in 2011, Tremaine told a lower court that he felt compelled to ignore the order.
“My purpose in ignoring the cease and desist order was to address the urgent matter of impending white extinction,” he said.
The National-Socialist Party of Canada uses the Nazi swastika and images of Adolf Hitler to promote itself.
Until the rights complaint, Tremaine was a lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, where he taught a first-year math course.
As is its custom, the Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision not to hear the case.
With files from the National Post