Federal Court of Appeal Sends Political Prisoner Terry Tremaine Back to Prison
REGINA. September 10, 2014. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by political prisoner Terry Tremaine. Mr. Tremaine was appealing against a 30 day sentence originally imposed by Federal Court Judge Sean Harrington for civil contempt.
The contempt charge had been laid after numerous complaints by Richard Warman, who brought the initial complaint under the notorious Sec. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, now repealed by Parliament. Sec. 13 involved Internet censorship. The Warman complaint focused on numerous postings Mr. Tremaine, a former lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, had made on the U.S. website STORMFRONT under the name mathdoktor 99.
Judge Harrington had initially found Mr. Tremaine not guilty after a trial in Victoria in 2010. He held that Mr. Tremaine had not been served with the Federal Court Order (confirming the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal “cease and desist” order.) The Federal Court of Appeals overturned Judge Harrington in 2011 and advanced the novel notion that “cease and desist” required Mr. Tremaine to remove all the impugned posts, rather than not post similar material in the future,. even though the order made no mention of such action.
Originally, in sentencing Mr. Tremaine in 2013, Judge Harrington ordered him to remove numerous posts. If he did not comply, he would go to jail for six months. Mr. Tremaine complied, but still faced a month in prison. Usually, in civil contempt cases, jail time is imposed only if the accused remains non-compliant.
Amnesty International defines a “prisoner of conscience” or a political prisoner as a person punished for the non-violent expression of his political, religious or cultural views.
Mr. Tremaine expressed disappointment at the Court of Appeal’s decision, noting that the court seemed persuaded by Judge Harrington’s melodramatic denunciation of the gentle scholar and scuba diver as “a villain.”
The decision seems to say, he added: “Screw the fact that the law which was offended has been repealed by Parliament. Screw the fact this is merely civil contempt. As he’s a political dissident put the boots to the guy.”
The decision is not yet available on line. When it is, CAFE will provide a further analysis.