Facing charges for online hate speech, a Regina neo-Nazi leader has been given a judge’s permission to go back online to white supremacist websites for help in proving that the anti-Semitic and racist comments are true.
The court order gives Terry Tremaine permission to ask for information from denizens of online forums, some of which are notorious for virulent messages of intolerance, suggesting his eventual criminal trial could become a controversial marathon like Ernst Zundel’s and Jim Keegstra’s attempts to prove the Holocaust was a fraud.
Mr. Tremaine, a former math lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, faces 11 criminal charges of wilfully promoting hate against identifiable groups after prolific postings, including messages saying Jews are a “parasitic race,” that “blacks are intellectually inferior to whites” and “Hitler was a lot nicer to the Jews than they deserved.”
Police raided Mr. Tremaine’s Regina home in 2007. He is head of the National-Socialist Party of Canada, which uses the Nazi swastika and pictures of Adolf Hitler to promote itself.
“They are holding Mr. Tremaine accountable for thousands upon thousands of thousands of statements of fact, statements of opinion, statements of mixed fact and opinion,” Doug Christie, Mr. Tremaine’s lawyer, said in an interview.
“Some of them — some of them — not all of them [but] certainly some of the facts are verifiable,” he said.
“Consequently, there are many possible defences,” including truth.
The relaxing of bail conditions to allow for a ‘search for truth’? You can label it that, but it is basically a search for propaganda
Mr. Christie sought changes to Mr. Tremaine’s bail restrictions to allow him to seek information from “any website” to plan his legal defence. He had previously been banned from such communication.
Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Frederick Kovach consented, signing an order on June 27 allowing Mr. Tremaine to once again post messages on controversial web sites such as Stormfront, a U.S.-based white supremacist web forum run by former Ku Klux Klansman Don Black, where the original contentious posts were made.
Judge Kovach, however, imposed some restrictions.
Mr. Tremaine may only post questions “pertaining to research for the preparation of his defence,” the order reads, and each message must first be vetted by the Crown prosecutor in the case. A notation of the court order must precede all messages and conclude with: “Please address only the question if possible, as I cannot engage in discussions of any other nature.”
His specific questions have not yet been submitted.
The court order further requires Mr. Tremaine to use his real name in the postings without pseudonyms, including “Mathdoktor99,” his former online alias.
Even with the restrictions, Judge Kovach’s order could hand Mr. Tremaine a platform to further spread his “hateful view of the world,” said David Matas, senior honourary legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group.
“I find it troubling,” said Mr. Matas. “The relaxing of bail conditions to allow for a ‘search for truth’? You can label it that, but it is basically a search for propaganda to justify his own prejudicial beliefs.
“If you allow the court to become a platform [for hateful views] and you combined it with low penalties, it actually becomes an incentive for propagandists to go to court rather than a disincentive.”
Mr. Tremaine previously elected trial by a judge and jury rather than judge alone. A date is not yet scheduled.
He faces the same charge as Jim Keegstra, a former Alberta school teacher convicted in 1984 for teaching his students that the Holocaust was a fraud and Jews are “treacherous.” Mr. Keegstra argued truth as his defence but had his conviction confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ernst Zundel was charged with spreading false news for publishing “Did Six Million Really Die?” that denied the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany. He faced two trials in 1985 and 1988 that drew intense attention to his views. He was found guilty at trial but later had his conviction overturned by the Supreme Court.
If you allow the court to become a platform [for hateful views] and you combined it with low penalties, it actually becomes an incentive for propagandists to go to court
Mr. Christie represented both men.
He said Mr. Tremaine’s use of the Internet differentiates this case.
“The Keegstra case was vastly different in that Mr. Keegstra was speaking to a captive audience of students who had no choice but to listen. The Internet does not communicate, in my respectful opinion, it makes available. It does not transmit to anyone who does not seek it. It is a different situation,” Mr. Christie said.
Previously, a Federal Court of Canada judge declared that Mr. Tremaine was “a white supremacist” who was “virulently anti-Jewish” and “has particular enmity for blacks and Canada’s aboriginal peoples.”
“Mr. Tremaine thinks — or perhaps just wishes — he is better than others because of the colour of his skin. He is a white supremacist,” wrote Justice Sean Harrington last year in a separate case stemming from his online postings.
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