We’ve written before about the travails of the Canadian Blazing Cat Fur blog against laware utilizing Canadian “hate” laws.
Controversial television journalist Ezra Levant will find himself in court Oct. 15 to answer for a series of blog posts in which he repeatedly called a Canadian Islamic Rights activist a liar.
Mr. Levant, who hosts a daily show on Sun News Network, wrote the posts while covering unsuccessful human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine for its coverage of the Islamic community over a two-year span.
Mr. Levant’s posts were critical of Khurrum Awan, a member of the Canadian Islamic Congress who spoke at the Canadian Human Rights Commission hearings and served as its youth president. In his statement of claim filed to Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Mr. Awan said Mr. Levant suggested he was “a liar, a perjurer, an anti-Semite, a con artist, unfit to be a lawyer and has acted in a conflict of interest.”
“The plaintiff has suffered mental distress, humiliation and loss of reputation,” reads the statement of claim filed by lawyer Brian Shiller of Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan Barristers. “The plaintiff has been shunned by former friends, ridiculed in various publications and is the subject of odium and contempt.”
In his statement of defence, Mr. Levant suggests any damage to Mr. Awan’s reputation was self-inflicted.
In an October 15, 2013, column at Sun News, Price of freedom is high, Levant explained the history of lawfare against him:
Syed Soharwardy, a radical Pakistan-born Muslim imam in Calgary, says a lot of offensive things.
He says Canada treats Muslims the way Nazi Germany treated Jews. Funny he mentioned Nazis. Because for many years his own website said “the nation of Jews will be exterminated.” He attended a protest that flew the flag of the terrorist group Hezbollah, right across the street from Calgary’s Jewish community centre.
Yet this bigot had the audacity to file a human rights complaint against me for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, in a news story in the Western Standard magazine. And 15 government lawyers and bureaucrats prosecuted me for 900 days, for “hate speech.”
Mohamed Elmasry is a radical Egypt-born Muslim in Waterloo. He says offensive things, too. On national TV he said “Everyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target” for terrorism. He says the Jewish Torah is the inspiration for Israel’s campaign of “death, destruction and misery” against Arabs. He calls Hezbollah “legitimate.” And this bigot had the audacity to file three human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine for publishing an essay by Mark Steyn warning about radical Islam. That led to a five-day trial in B.C.
This is called lawfare. Muslim extremists who enjoy Canada’s free speech for themselves, seek to take it away from their Canadian critics. Using our own laws.
By one measure, Soharwardy and Elmasry failed: Their cases were dismissed. But they actually won. Because for Maclean’s and me, the process was the punishment. I spent about $100,000 in legal bills. Maclean’s spent many times that. And every other media company was sent the message: Don’t you dare talk about radical Islam, or you’ll face a nuisance suit, too….
But it’s not over. Today in a Toronto court, Khurrum Awan is suing me for critical comments I wrote at the Maclean’s hearing in 2008. I said nothing that hadn’t been said by many critics across the political spectrum, who universally condemned the nuisance suit. But the rest of the media soon dropped the free speech cause. I turned it into an ongoing campaign. So time to apply the “strategic objective” to me.
Awan’s lawyer is Brian Shiller. Along with his partner, Clayton Ruby, the two are famous in Toronto for filing lawsuits against Mayor Rob Ford. Those suits have all been thrown out. Shiller is the lawyer for four other lawsuits pending against me, too.
Levant’s supporters have started a website, Stand With Ezra, where you can donate to his legal defense fund (we just did):
I reached out to Levant for comment on the case, and here is his response in pertinent part:
Hi there! Thanks for this note.
The week-long trial was scheduled for last week, but the judge fell ill, and so by consent of both parties’ lawyers, the matter has been adjourned until the week of Jan. 6, 2014.
Out of respect for the court, I will refrain from discussing any particulars in the pleadings. But there is a lot to say about the lawsuit itself, and the political context of it….
I thought this fight had been fought and won years ago — and in fact, just this summer, the national “hate speech” censorship law was repealed. But one of the salient characteristics of lawfare is how tenacious it is — that’s the whole point, to wear you down financially and morally.
Well, I’m happy to fight. But since the lawsuit predates my employment at the newspaper I work at, unfortunately I’m on the hook for all of my legal fees. If any of your readers would care to chip in, I sure would be grateful!
Thanks a million.
After you donate, sit back and enjoy Ezra’s Opening Statement in the 2008 Human Rights Commission case brought against him over the publication of the Mohammed cartoon:DONATE
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