Free Speech Monitor, Number 197, May 2012

Number 197 May, 2012

Number 197                                                   May, 2012


Crown Clashes With Brad Love Over Parole Ban on Writing to Anyone

 NEWMARKET, March 13, 2012. It was almost as if she were baiting or mocking him, as the Crown Attorney repeatedly asked former political prisoner Brad Love: “Free speech is what this is all about. You think the courts were trying to criminalize your dissent?”

Yes,” the 53-year old old worker and inveterate letter-writer agreed.

Today, Mr. Love finished his evidence in a protracted three-year “breach of probation” trial that has seen him return to Toronto ten times for court appearances and his much interrupted trial before Judge Kelly Wright.

At issue was a brutal 2006 parole condition, item “r”, in a list of conditions which Mr. Love had to obey. He was forbidden to write to anyone unless they had granted permission to receive his material. In terms of writing, he was rendered gagged non-person.

The Crown explained what Judge Hogg was seeking to accomplish in 2006: “The goal was to craft a condition where you would not send these editorial comments unless requested.” Mr. Love would frequently send newspaper articles with comments written on them in magic marker.

Mr. Love was arrested by eight detectives at an Alternative Forum meeting, March 9, 2009 in Toronto, just after he’d finished a talk, ironically, on free speech. He had sent packages of news articles with his comments to the Canadian Jewish Congress, B’nai Brith, the Jewish Students Union and the York University Students Union in regards to the anti-Israeli apartheid week.

In each case, he testified, he called and got permission to send them his views. He’d say: “I saw the article about you guys and I love your radical views. I’d like to send you some of mine. They’d say, ‘sure.'”

“I’d phone them in regard to whatever news story prompted my interest. My interest piqued their interest,” he recalled. “I’d say, ‘Would it be okay, if I sent you some of my stuff?” and they’d say ‘sure.'”

Judge Hogg restricted “what I could say,” Mr. Love testified. “However, I believe I followed his guidelines

Judge Hogg, now retired, had a reputation for being a judicial radical. His order was “overbroad,” said Mr. Love’s lawyer, Peter Leckie.

Mr. Leckie, on re-direct, asked Mr. Love: “Do you feel you did anything wrong in terms of Judge Hogg’s conditions.”

Mr. Love responded that the groups who complained, only a small number of those who’ve received his commentaries, “are either over sensitive on this issue or have an ulterior motive.These groups publicize their beliefs,” he added, “but if they get some material with views they don’t agree with, they call the police. I like to question everything that appears before me in my country.”

In a testy exchange with Mr.  Love, the Crown said: “It’s about your right to exercize freedom of speech. It’s a huge part of what drives you as a person.”

“That what my grandparents fought for in two wars,” Mr. Love shot back. “No one should limit my freedom of expression. I’m 53 years old and I’ve seen more than most people,” Mr. Love added. “I take freedom of expression to the outer limits,” he explained.

Earlier, the Crown had acknowledged that Mr. Love, who reads five books a week and is terminally curious, was very intelligent and self-educated.

The trial, which could send former political prisoner and letter-writer Love back to prison, will hear the judge’s verdict on May 28. — Paul Fromm

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