NEWMARKET, July 13, 2012. It was certainly a “Black Friday” for freedom of dissent in Canada today. One observer wondered whether this was Pnom Penh or Newmarket,. Late this afternoon in an almost deserted courthouse, after a gruelling seven hours of delays, Judge Kelly Wright sentenced letter writer Brad Love to 18 months in prison. Furthermore, “Mr. Love is to refrain from any political speech or commentary to any media outlet, political, cultural or religious group or organization, or police organization, except with the express written permission of a political or religious organization” that welcomes him as a member or associate and with the permission of his probation officer.
The 52-year old critic of Zionism and massive Third World immigration is, thus, effectively silenced — no letters-to-the-editor, no letters to newspapers or provocative tweaks to police chiefs or politicians.In addition, Mr. Love was also enjoined from any communication, direct or indirect, with the Canadian Jewish Congress, the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, Hillel, and Robert Tiffin, the Vice-President of the York University Jewish Students Union. Mr. Love was found guilty of sending information packages to these four, having called them to receive permission.
In 2006, now retired Mr. Justice Hogg imposed three years of probation during which Mr. Love was forbidden to write to anybody, without their prior consent. In May, Judge Wright ruled that the Jewish groups in question had not given “informed” consent when they told Mr. Love, who had not identified himself in phone calls, that he could send them his written material.
In sentencing Mr. Love, Judge Wright tore a strip off this dissident who, over the past 20 years, has penned more than 10,000 letters to newspapers and public officials. The judge agreed with Crown Vogel’s submission that Mr. Love was so dedicated to his views that he cannot be rehabilitated. Previous “court orders,” Judge Wright read in a staccato voice, “have had no effect in curbing Mr. Love’s propensity to share his hateful and hurtful opinions.” His actions, she added, “were deliberate and intentional” in sending material “that was hateful and hurtful of the Jewish community and reflected his deep-seated racist beliefs.”
The Crown, in her arguments, made it clear that the political gagging of Mr. Love was her goal: “Mr. Love, in the Crown’s submission, in a unique offender.” She indicated that her goal was “to prevent” Mr. Love’s “views from hurting other people. We need to protect the public from hateful, scurrilous material.” And, so, he must be silenced.
Patrick Leckie, Mr. Love’s lawyer, argued that the material sent to the Jewish groups was essentially private communication and there had been no victim impact statement or proof of any harm done. He also noted that the Crown had not charged Mr. Love with “hate” for those mailings. He also pointed out, as the Crown had admitted, that there was little case law to guide the judge in sentencing.
Just before the judge sent the letter]-writing dissident off for another 18 months in prison — his original sentence when convicted in 2003 under Canada’s notorious “hate law” Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code — Mr. Love briefly addressed the court. He pointed to the seats in the courtroom, empty except for Mr. Love’s brother and two members of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, which has backed the outspoken dissident, and a young policeman waiting to slap the handcuffs on him. “Where are the people who claimed to have been hurt or offended by my letters?” he demanded. “They’ve never shown up in the three years of this trial.”
He also warned that his sentence “would have ramifications in limiting the freedoms of other people who come after me.”
The judge adopted almost to a word the Crown’s sentencing requests and, as she had all through the trial which had stretched over three years, rejected all of the defence’s submissions.
Mr. Love will be seeking bail and release pending an appeal of both the verdict and ferocious sentence and an appeal of a rejected constitutional challenge to Judge Hogg’s original “over broad” order, Mr. Love’s lawyer Patrick Leckie said outside the court. “There’s no way Superior Court will endorse the terms of Judge Hogg’s order,” or this order, he added.
The day’s proceedings were a measure of Ontario’s sclerotic court system. The sentencing had been set down in a dedicated courtroom for 10:00 a.m. However, various remands and other matters delayed the Love matter until 12:30. By 1:00, it was time for lunch. Back at 2:15. A further recess had to be called to locate documents the Crown should have had for the file. At 4:10 the judge announced she’d need 20 minutes to consider her verdict. Court resumed at 4:48 and Mr. Love soon after 5:00 p.m was carted off to the cells and political silence, just like his dissidents in Communist China.