Neo-Nazi acquitted on a technicality

National Post, Canada/December 1, 2010

A federal court judge has "reluctantly" acquitted a neo-Nazi former math lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan of contempt of court, even though he "deliberately flaunted" an order of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop his online hate messages.

Terry Tremaine, whose case was launched by hate-hunting lawyer Richard Warman, not only admitted his contempt of the tribunal's 2007 decision against him, including a fine and a cease-and-desist order, but bragged about it to Justice Sean J. Harrington.

His acquittal on a technicality highlights a quirk of the "quasi-judicial" human rights tribunal system, in which the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can issue orders but not enforce them.

That can only be done by a court, and so the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which prosecutes cases at the Tribunal, registers Tribunal orders in federal court. From then on, they carry the full weight of a court order, and violations can lead to contempt charges.

In this case, however, when the CHRC registered the Tribunal's decision with the federal court, soon after it was made, they did not inform Mr. Tremaine they had done so.

So although he is in contempt of the CHRT - in that he continued to post messages after the tribunal's order not to, and was obviously aware of it, because he appealed in federal court - he cannot be in contempt of a federal court order he was never told about, the judge decided.

Mr. Tremaine claimed he was only informed of the order this past August, after this case was heard.

"He is in contempt of the order of the tribunal - indeed, he brags about it and admitted it before me. The issue, however, is whether he is in contempt of this court. I reluctantly conclude he is not.

"The only reason he is not is that the commission failed to bring to his attention the fact that it had registered the tribunal's order with this court," the judge wrote.

The CHRC argued the distinction was "artificial," but failed to convince him.

Mr. Tremaine, who also faces criminal hate speech charges, styled himself as the head of the National Socialist Party of Canada, and ran its website. He also made posts to, a Florida-based white supremacist forum.

"Mr. Tremaine thinks (or perhaps just wishes) he is better than others because of the colour of his skin. He is a white supremacist. Although his dislike of others based on the colour of their skin knows no bounds, he has particular enmity for blacks and Canada's aboriginal peoples," Judge Harrington wrote.

"He is also a neo-Nazi. He is virulently anti-Jewish. He draws no distinction between Jewishness and Zionism. According to him, Jews are parasites who will take over the world unless they are stopped. The blacks are their stupid lackeys and the First Nations are in league with them. He is fond of Adolph Hitler; who got it right - even though the Holocaust is a hoax."

The law under which he was initially charged with hate speech, Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, prohibits repeated online messages that are likely to expose identifiable groups to hatred or contempt.

In a separate case, after Mr. Tremaine's, the CHRT judged the law unconstitutional because it was designed to be remedial, but in fact carries the threat of punitive fines. That decision is under review in federal court.

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