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Monday, October 1, 2001
DOUG COLLINS, CONTROVERSIAL COLUMNIST
NORTH VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A retired newspaper columnist whose writing was once ruled anti-Semitic has died. Doug Collins was in his early 80s when he died Saturday.
In 1999, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ordered Collins and The North Shore News to pay a Jewish man $2,000 for exposing Jews to hatred. Two months ago, the columnist's lawyer said his client would continue to fight against paying the fine.
During the original hearing, the tribunal heard a complaint from a B.C. representative of B'nai B'rith Canada who cited four columns published in the suburban Vancouver newspaper in 1994. In one, Collins called the World War II movie Schindler's List "Swindler's List.'' In another, he blasted the prosecutions of Holocaust deniers Ernst Zündel and Jim Keegstra, and said British Holocaust denier David Irving was deported for "having the wrong opinions.'' Collins also referred to the claim that six million Jews were killed in Nazi death camps as "the inflated six million story.''
In August, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Collins' bid to argue the constitutionality of British Columbia's human rights code in the B.C. Supreme Court, rather than before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Instead, Collins was told he would have to appear before the very tribunal that ruled against his writings in 1999.
Collins was not afraid to write about "very controversial subjects,'' said his lawyer, Doug Christie, who is best known for defending Zundel and Keegstra. "He was one of the most courageous men I ever knew.''
Born in England in 1920, Collins spent four years as a prisoner of war during World War II. He escaped and was recaptured numerous times, Christie said. "On his fourth attempt, he made it to Hungary and he was interned in a castle,'' said Christie. "He escaped again and got to Romania on a third attempt on escaping from the castle.''
Collins later worked for the British government, but switched to writing in 1952 as a general assignment reporter for The Calgary Herald. His journalism career spanned more than four decades, and included work for the CBC, Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers, and a stint with CJOR radio in Vancouver. He joined The North Shore News as a columnist in 1984, and stayed until 1998.
Collins was recently admitted to a North Vancouver hospital with abdominal pains. He survived by his wife and adult sons.
Douglas Collins, veteran of Dunkirk and WWII, died aged 81 in a Vancouver BC hospital on September 30, 2001.