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 Posted Sunday, January 24, 1999

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Toronto, January 20, 1999

Canadian Parliamentary ban by Gilbert Parent alarms civil-liberties officials

Tim Naumetz (Southam News)


THE SPEAKER of the House of Commons claims that all parties backed him in banning Ernst Zundel's lawyer from the Parliament buildings.

Gilbert Parent, the Speaker of the House of Commons, was wrong to ban the lawyer for Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel from the parliamentary precincts this week, a spokesman for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said yesterday.

Below: Douglas Christie refuses to leave Parliamentary lobby

Alan Borovoy, the association's general counsel, said Mr. Parent issued what appears to be an arbitrary edict that ignored basic standards of fairness when he extended a previous ban against Zundel to his lawyer, Douglas Christie.

"Parliament ought to be governed by the standards of fairness and due process that have been the hallmarks of democratic societies," Mr. Borovoy said, after Mr. Parent's officials prevented Mr. Christie from entering Parliament.

Last week, Mr. Christie booked an appearance for Tuesday in a news theatre administered by the Parliamentary Press Gallery. The gallery, which has accepted bookings by Mr. Christie and Zundel, says any group or individual may use the room to comment on issues of national importance. Last June, press gallery directors had refused to cancel Zundel's booking for the news theatre. However, he was subsequently banned from the building outright.

Mr. Christie said he wanted to use the gallery to issue a statement about Zundel's hate-literature case before a Canadian Human Rights tribunal in Toronto, and about laws against the promotion of hatred.

Mr. Parent's press secretary, Heather Bradley, said the Speaker extended the ban to include Mr. Christie after House leaders for all five parties in the Commons agreed to support the action.

While the Commons approved the ban against Zundel by adopting a motion from Don Boudria, the government House leader, there was no record of Mr. Parent's ruling on Mr. Christie, or any written reasons for the decision.

A senior Commons official verbally informed the press gallery that Mr. Christie would not be allowed into the building, while Ms. Bradley, accompanied [by] Commons security guards, informed Mr. Christie of the development when he arrived on Parliament Hill for his news conference.

Hansard, the official record of Commons debate, contains a brief record of the motion against Zundel, but the reference does not include any reason for the decision.

"As far as I know, there are no criteria governing access to Parliament for these purposes," said Mr. Borovoy. "There is a great risk of being arbitrary, and Parliament should be governed by standards of fair play and due process. Those are the norms of democratic governments."

Mr. Boudria said he agreed to ban Mr. Christie because he is acting for Zundel, even though he did not know what the lawyer planned to say at his news conference.

"It would have been somewhat incongruous to say Mr. Zundel can't enter the House of Commons to give a press conference, but he can pay someone else to do the same thing," said Mr. Boudria. "In terms of what the content of his speech was, I have no idea."

Mr. Boudria added no citizen has an automatic right to enter the parliamentary buildings, and Commons security has "a list as long as my arm" of people who have been prohibited from entering the premises, generally for security reasons. He said the public, in effect, seeks permission, even for tours, by going through a security screening station.

Heather Bradley said Zundel and Mr. Christie could have used the media theatre in the National Press Building across the street from Parliament Hill, but did not.

Saturday, January 23, 1999

Nunziata attacks ban as 'completely outrageous'

Former Liberal condemns barring of Zundel's lawyer

by Tim Naumetz

Independent MP John Nunziata has condemned Commons Speaker Gilbert Parent's "outrageous" decision to ban Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel's lawyer from Parliament.

Mr. Parent banned Victoria lawyer Douglas Christie from the parliamentary precincts earlier this week to prevent him from using a Parliamentary Press Gallery news theatre to comment on recent demands to amend Canada's hate laws.

Below: Canadian-German Schaumschläger Ernst Zündel

An aide to Mr. Parent, press secretary Heather Bradley, said Mr. Parent banned Mr. Christie because he is representing Mr. Zundel in a legal action against all the political parties and their leaders for a ban the Commons imposed against him last June.

As well, government House leader Don Boudria said Mr. Christie was banned because he is merely Mr. Zundel's "messenger" and allowing him into Parliament would have been the same as allowing Mr. Zundel into the buildings.

Mr. Nunziata said yesterday the ban against both Mr. Christie and Mr. Zundel, who was also barred from the buildings to prevent him from using a news theatre in the Centre Block, violates freedom of speech guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"It's totally and completely outrageous," exclaimed Mr. Nunziata, also a lawyer. "It's political correctness gone mad. They have to be reminded we live in a democracy."

Mr. Nunziata fired off a letter to Mr. Parent and distributed it by e-mail to the offices of all MPs, demanding to know the reasons for the ban against both Mr. Zundel and Mr. Christie and asking Mr. Parent to explain the threat they posed to Parliament.

"On what basis did you conclude that it was justifiable to suspend constitutional rights?" Mr. Nunziata, a former Liberal, asked Mr. Parent.

"Would you also indicate whether there are any precedents for denying access to Parliament Hill based on a person's views."

As of yesterday afternoon, Mr. Parent had not yet replied to Mr. Nunziata.

Our opinion, by a correspondent
Just as James Traficant went to bat for John Demjanjuk, so John Nunziata is now going to bat for Doug Christie. As Zundel would say, there's enough of a basic residue of Euro honesty and decency within the (otherwise corrupt) Canadian system to keep it afloat for a while longer. Which of course does not impugn the honesty of our other brethren of diverse races. Truth is truth, after all. And friends, as a rabbi from Galilee once said, it's the Truth that will set us free.

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