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Posted Wednesday, January 27, 1999

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JANUARY 26, 1999

Judge throws out Zundel's case against federal parties

banishment from precincts of Parliament




Ottawa - An Ottawa judge yesterday gutted the efforts of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to sue federal political parties and their leaders.

In his written ruling, Justice James Chadwick dismissed Mr. Zundel's claim against the political parties. The judge struck down the claim against Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, other party leaders, and five other politicians, ruling there was no reasonable cause of action.

Mr. Zundel, a Toronto man whose public denials of the Holocaust have brought him before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, began civil proceedings last year. After the House of Commons banned him in June from the precincts of Parliament, he responded with what he promoted as "the mother of all lawsuits."

Mr. Zundel had wanted to hold a news conference on Parliament Hill to discuss his case before the tribunal, but MPs from all parties unanimously supported a government motion to keep him out for the remainder of the session. Mr. Zundel contended the parties denied him his freedom of speech as protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedom.

He sought $1-million in damages from each of the parties, and $1.25-million from each of the politicians. Zundel also sought similar damages from the Canadian Jewish Congress, which he claimed conspired with the MPs.

Lawyers for the political parties argued the parties have no assets, hold no real estate, employ no people, and as such are not legal entities. The parties' registered agents, such as the Federal Liberal Agency of Canada and the Reform Fund of Canada, are incorporated legal entities and can be sued.

Justice Chadwick agreed with the position of the parties.

Lawyer Brian Crane, representing Mr. Chrétien, other party leaders, and several other MPs named as defendants, argued the claim against them should be struck because the politicians were exercising the privilege of Parliament to control access to the House precinct.

Justice Chadwick agreed. "The court should not interfere with the decision of Parliament," he said, noting the restriction on Mr. Zundel applied only to the use of Parliamentary precincts and was not a prohibition from speaking.

While the MPs gave no reason for their decision, Justice Chadwick commented "it is obvious it was to preserve the dignity and integrity of Parliament."

When informed the judge had ruled in favour of the MPs, Mr. Zundel was surprised.

"You're kidding me," he said. "I really believed there was a new wind blowing." He called the judge's decision a "setback" and said he would ponder the possibility of an appeal.

This week, in a sequel to the ban against Mr. Zundel, Gilbert Parent, the Commons Speaker, banned Douglas Christie, Zundel's attorney and the lawyer of choice for Canada's far right, from Parliament.

Ottawa Citizen
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