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 Posted Wednesday, May 19, 1999

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Collins with Canadian television reporter


P.O. Box 332, Rexdale, Ontario, M9W 5L3
Phone 905-897-7221 • Fax 905-277-3914

May 19, 1999

Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE): Press Release,Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Hollinger Should Back Collins' Appeal of B.C.'s Hate Law

"Hollinger must put the free speech views of its many editorials into action by backing B.C. journalist Douglas Collins, who was in court in Victoria, May 17, in the first round of an appeal against his conviction earlier this year under the province's so-called 'hate law'," says Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression. Fromm and other shareholders will be urging Hollinger management, at its annual meeting today, to support and help fund the Collins; appeal.

For 15 years, World War II vet Collins -- 11 escapes from German P.O.W. camps -- was a columnist for the North Shore News, which is owned by Southam, now a subsidiary of Hollinger. In 1996, Collins was charged under the B.C. Human Rights Act which makes publishing anything that is likely to hold a member of a privileged minority group up to hatred or contempt an offence. Truth is no defence. Fines can be unlimited. The complainant, even if rich, gets legal aid. The victim, even if acquitted, is not compensated.

In February, 1998, Collins was cleared. However, his defence had cost $203,000, over $160,000 of it raised from his loyal readers and free speech supporters across the country.

He was promptly charged again under another complaint, this one filed by Harry Abrams of Victoria. A column cleared in the earlier complaint was part of the second complaint -- a clear case of double jeopardy. This February, Doug Collins and the North Shore News were found guilty and fined $2,000. In addition, the paper had to print the judgement -- an unprecedented intrusion into press freedom.

"This pernicious piece of social engineering is a chill on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in British Columbia. As Canada's largest publisher of daily newspapers, Hollinger must take a stand," says free speech advocate Paul Fromm. "I'm urging that the company subscribe generously to fund the appeal -- actually an application for judicial review in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Collins is seeking to have this part of the B.C. Human Rights Law declared unconstitutional. "Other courts have found that provinces have no right to restrict freedom of speech.

"Finally, I'll be urging Hollinger to seek intervenor status in this appeal. The presence of Canada's largest publisher would send a powerful message to the courts that Canadians are no longer prepared to suffer censorship by special interest groups that use unelected human rights bureaucrats as their enforcers," Fromm added.

Our opinion
   NOW READ what the Vancouver BC newspaper North Shore News writes in support of its famous journalist Douglas Collins.

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