denier to argue tribunal is not
by Jim Bronskill
Internet issue at heart: Commission
received complaints about Zundel's
HOLOCAUST denier Ernst Zundel
heads to court tomorrow in a bid to
halt a human-rights inquiry into his
Internet Web site by arguing the process
Mr. Zundel's lawyer will try to
persuade the Federal Court that the
quasi-judicial tribunal hearing the
complaints isn't independent enough from
the Canadian Human Rights Commission to be
fair and impartial.
The commission ordered the
ground-breaking tribunal inquiry after
receiving two 1996 complaints that
material on Mr. Zundel's Web site was
likely to expose Jews to hatred or
The tribunal, which began hearing
witnesses in the fall of 1997, has faced
persistent opposition from Mr. Zundel.
In his latest attempt to block the
process, Mr. Zundel will point to a
landmark ruling last year in which Federal
Court Justice Donna McGillis
stopped a human-rights tribunal hearing
into a pay-equity complaint by
Judge McGillis ruled there could be a
perception of bias since the Human Rights
Commission sets the wages and tenure of
Rene Duval, lawyer for the
commission, says Mr. Zundel missed the
chance to raise his bias concerns at the
outset of the tribunal hearings on his
"We're going to argue that he waived
that objection by not bringing it at the
first reasonable opportunity, as he should
have," Mr. Duval said in an interview.
Tomorrow's case, to be heard in
Toronto, is one element of a two-pronged
attack by Mr. Zundel.
On Wednesday, in a separate Federal
Court case, he will argue the Human Rights
Commission lacks jurisdiction over the
Internet and therefore had no business
ordering the tribunal hearings.
The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits
the use of telephone lines to spread
messages likely to expose people to hatred
or contempt on the basis of race,
religion, or ethnic origin.
Mr. Zundel contends the Internet does
not come under the umbrella of "telephonic
communications" defined in the act.
The commission argues that because a
computer modem operates through telephone
lines, hate messages on the Internet would
fall under the act.
"We do have jurisdiction over the
Internet," Mr. Duval said.
He added that Mr. Zundel's argument is
premature because the tribunal has yet to
hear all of the evidence. "The tribunal
must run its course."
The Zundel matter marks the first time
a Canadian human- rights tribunal has
examined complaints alleging hate on the
Tribunals have, however, dealt with
similar cases related to recorded
telephone messages. In those cases, the
courts have ultimately ruled that while
restricting the spread of hate propaganda
limits freedom of expression, it is a
justifiable restriction under the