B.C. Journalist Doug Collins to
Counter-Attack: Issues Press
Collins has launched an appeal
against the human rights verdict that
found him guilty on Feb. 2 of violating
the B.C. Human Rights Code.
THE appeal -- called a judicial review
-- is a direct challenge to the Code,
which Collins says is unconstitutional. If
the appeal is successful, the anti-free
speech provisions of the Code will be
rendered null and void.
The human rights verdict resulted from
complaints brought by businessman Harry
Abrams of B'Nai Brith, Victoria.
Collins refused to attend the tribunal,
stating it was unconstitutional and that
the rights law was the greatest threat to
the press since the Alberta Press Act was
defeated by the courts in 1938.
The application for the judicial review
was filed Thursday with the B.C. Supreme
Court by lawyer Doug Christie.
has also launched a
national appeal for funds
to finance his action.
The tribunal verdict found that four
columns written in 1994 exposed Jews to
"hatred and contempt," something that the
recently-retired Collins describes as
rights in B.C. have become a travesty," he
said. "The NDP government has declared war
on free speech where it annoys powerful
interest groups and it should not be
allowed to get away with it. So now we'll
see what the real courts have to say.They
are quite different from Premier Glen
Clark's kangaroo courts."
Lawyer Christie's submission states
that the Human Rights Code infringes the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and "is not a reasonable limit prescribed
by law as can be demonstrably justified in
a free and democratic society."
"It should be set aside, says Mr.
Christie, "as being of no force and
effect". The court is being asked to award
costs against Mr. Abrams and against the
attorney general's department. Collins
says adjudicator Tom Patch's
decision was outrageous. "It ordered the
News to run his reasons for judgment,
which is direct interference with freedom
of the press. Even the real courts can't
order newspapers to run its
The ruling also laid
down that Collins and the North Shore News
cease publishing articles that are "likely
to expose Jews to hatred and contempt."
"In short," said Collins, "they don't know
what I'm going to say but I'd better not
say it. That's called prior restraint, a
condition common to dictatorships."
He also ridiculed the tribunal's view
that while none of the columns contravened
the Code individually, they did
collectively. "We must be living in
Wonderland," he commented, "especially
since one of the columns was the subject
of a complaint brought in 1997 by the
Canadian Jewish Congress and dismissed as
not being hateful. Mr. Patch may be
a lawyer but he seems never to have heard
of something called double jeopardy."
The News and Collins were ordered to
pay a $2,000 fine and the News has paid it
on instructions from Hollinger/Southam. "I
was not consulted," said Collins, "but I
regret that it was paid. I had -- and have
-- absolutely no intention of paying a
single dime unless told to do so by a real
court. The NDP's view of free speech is
The B.C. Press Council has "deplored"
the Patch decision, stating it is the
first time in Canadian history that a
government-appointed body has convicted a
newspaper and its columnist of violating
standards set by a legislature. It also
stated that governments have no business
telling newspapers what to print.
It is likely that the B.C. Press
Council and the B.C. Civil Liberties
Association will intervene in the case,
arguing that the Code is unconstitutional.
Donations may be made to the Canadian Free
Speech League, c/o Mr. Doug Christie, 810
Courtney Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W
on Doug Collins:
Doug Collins, Phone and
Fax 604--926--0052 e-mail