Do Canada's hate crime laws work?
We've been following the Saskatoon re-trial of Saskatchewan First Nations leader David Ahenakew for allegedly engaging in hate crimes. This, in turn, raised the issue who is paying what must be Mr. Ahenakew's considerable legal fees? Secondly, although aware of some of defense lawyer Doug Christie's past exploits we decided to do a Wikipedia profile which appears below. An interesting fellow to say the least.
Clare L. Pieuk
Hitler ‘had his reasons,’ says Ahenakew
Betty Ann Adam
Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, November 28, 2008
More On This Story
Ahenakew still blames Jews for world war
Culture and Lifestyle
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
Controversial native leader David Ahenakew
Canwest News Service
SASKATOON -- Disgraced First Nations leader David Ahenakew tried to explain his controversial comments about Nazism and the Jews during his hate crimes trial Friday, saying Adolf Hitler "had his reasons" for his actions during the Second World War.
"I would say I understand Hitler had his reasons but I still don't support them," Mr. Ahenakew told the court.
Meanwhile, the judge in the case denied Mr. Ahenakew's bid to enter into evidence his tearful, televised apology for the comments which have twice landed him in court.
Judge Wilfred Tucker turned down defence lawyer Doug Christie's request to table the apology, saying the apology was written by Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) staff and approved by a lawyer, so it was not spontaneous.
Mr. Ahenakew was back on the stand Friday in his retrial for inciting hatred in connection with a December 13, 2002 interview with then-StarPhoenix reporter James Parker. After telling an FSIN health conference that Jews started the Second World War, he was quoted in an interview with Mr. Parker saying Hitler was "trying to clean up the world" when he "fried" six million Jews.
Mr. Ahenakew was found guilty in 2005 on a charge of inciting hatred but the conviction was set aside on appeal and a new trial was ordered.
His comments sparked outrage across the country. In July 2005, his membership in the Order of Canada, originally bestowed in 1978, was revoked on the grounds that "his actions have brought disrepute to the order."
Mr. Ahenakew alleged on the stand Friday that Mr. Parker provoked him by starting the interview by asking, ‘What the hell do you mean Jews started the Second World War?'
Mr. Ahenakew also said that Mr. Parker's "arrogant attitude" irritated him.
Crown prosecutor Sandeep Bains suggested that Mr. Parker never swore and that such language was characteristic of Mr. Ahenakew's way of speaking. Mr. Bains demonstrated that Mr. Ahenakew swore repeatedly during his speech and interview, and pointed out Parker never swore during the recorded part of the interview.
Also under cross-examination, he said at one point that his statements could have been considered "hatred," but at other points backed off that acknowledgment. When asked about specific remarks from the interview, Mr. Ahenakew repeatedly avoided answering directly and instead deflected blame on Mr. Parker's reporting.
Also Friday, Mr. Ahenakew said that he was bothered by the fact that non-aboriginals had control in Canada because it had been "wrenched away" from First Nations.
"We were absolutely captive people in our own country," said Mr. Ahenakew.
Douglas Hewson Christie, Jr., known as Doug Christie, (born April 1946) is a Canadian lawyer and far-right political activist based in Victoria, British Columbia.
2 Canadian Free Speech League
3 Professional conduct
3.1 Law Society of Upper Canada
3.2 The Law Society of British Columbia
5 External links
Christie was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and graduated from the law school of the University of Bitish Columbia in 1970. He is the founder and general counsel of the Canadian Free Speech League and is best known for defending individuals accused of Naze war crimes of racist or anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi activity. He is also the founder and leader of the Western Canada Concept, a separatist party of British Columbia and The Western Block Party, a right-wing political party advocating the separation of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba from the Canadian Confederation. He was the founding leader of the national Western Canada Concept, but was removed from the leadership in 1981. He was subsequently denied membership in the party's Alberta branch.
He first came to national attention as a lawyer in 1983 when he became James Keegstra's attorney after the school teacher was fired from his job and criminally charged with willfully promoting hatred by teaching his students that there was a Jewish conspiracy, along with spreading other antisemitic ideas. His defence of Keegstra brought him to the attention of Ernst Zündel who retained Christie in September 1984 to defend him against criminal charges related to Holocaust denial with co-counsel Barbara Kulaszka. Christie would act as Zündel's attorney in several cases over the subsequent two decades up to his deportation from Canada in 2005.
Christie's advocacy on behalf of Keegstra and Zündel has led to him acting as legal counsel in a number of notable cases involving far-right figures including:
Terry Long, former leader of the Aryan Nations in Canada
Malcolm Ross of New Brunswick who, like Keegstra, was a teacher fired for anti-Semitic activity
Three alleged leaders of the Ku Klux Klan in Manitoba
Rudy Stanko of the World Church of the Creator
Tony McAleer after he was charged with broadcasting hate speech over the phone and online
John Ross Taylor of the Western Guard Party and Aryan Nations
Imre Finta who was alleged to be a Nazi war criminal and collaborator (see R. v. Finta)
Doug Collins, a late newspaper columnist brought before the British Columbia Human Rights Commission for antisemitic and racist comments
Paul Fromm, head of the far-right "Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform" and "Canadians for Freedom of Expression", and participant in neo-Nazi and racist gatherings, who was fired from his job as a teacher for his political activity
Lady Jane Birdwood, a British follower of Oswald Mosley and distributor of hate propaganda;
Wolfgang Droege of the Heritage Front
David Ahenakew, who has acknowledged making anti-semitic comments in a 2002 interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix
He later became leader of British Columbia's provincial WCC, and led it through provincial elections in that province through the 1980s and 1990s. Christie never won a seat at the provincial or federal level, nor did the British Columbua WCC ever win any seats in the provincial elections it contested. Christie continues to run an organization with the "Western Canada Concept" name, but it is no longer a registered political party except at the provincial level in British Columbia, which has relatively lax party registration laws.
In 2005, Christie announced his intention to form a new federal political party to be called the Western Block Party which would be a Western Canadian version of the Bloc Québécois in that its role in the Canadian House of Commons would be to act as a regional separatist party.
The WCC and WBP are not affiliated with the Separation Party of Alberta or the Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan. Officials in these parties have distanced themselves from Christie - for example, they do not include links to the WCC or WBP on their websites even though the SPA and WIPS do link to one another.
The WBP was officially registered with Elections Canada prior to the 2006 election. Christie ran in the riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca in British Columbia, finishing fifth in a field of six.
Canadian Free Speech League
Christie is general counsel for an organization called the Canadian Free Speech League (CFSL), which has presented its "George Orwell Award" to controversial figures including British Columbia columnist Doug Collins, who authored an article titled Swindler's List attacking Steven Spielberg's Holocaust film Schindler's List.
Professional conduct - The Law Society of Upper Canada
The Law Society of Upper Canada looked into disciplining Christie for his conduct during the Imre Finta trial. The Society's discipline chair, Harvey Strosberg, declined to issue a complaint against Christie but stressed that Christie's remarks during the trial "clearly disclose that he has crossed the line separating counsel from client: he has made common cause with a small, lunatic, anti-Semitic fringe element in our society. We know who Mr. Christie is. Suffering Mr. Christie's words and opinions is part of the price one pays for upholding and cherishing freedom of speech in a free and democratic society. And society must be willing to accept this price. Mr. Christie's anti-Semitic comments were not akin to the cry of fire in a crowded theatre. His theatre was mostly empty."
The Law Society of British Columbia
On 2007-09-11, The Law Society of British Columbia issued a hearing report finding that Christie had committed professional misconduct in his civil litigation practice. Christie had been cited for his role in preparing and signing certain improper documents headed ‘Subpoena for Documents’ and having them served on parties uninvolved in the litigation. Christie was seeking, from a hospital, a bank, and a traveller cheque company, private health and financial records. In British Columbia, according to expert testimony heard by the Law Society’s hearing panel, “litigants are not entitled to compel testimony from a third party prior to trial without a court order nor to compel the production of documents from a third party prior to trial or from a third party not called on a trial without a court order.”
The Law Society hearing panel found that some of Christie’s testimony in his own defence was not believable. The panel found that Christie’s conduct was dishonourable, and that in his zeal to pursue the case on behalf of his clients, Christie had overlooked his professional responsibilities.
On 2007-12-17, the Law Society’s panel gave its decision on the penalty to be imposed on Christie. The panel noted that prior to this incident, Christie’s professional conduct record had been unblemished for over 30 years. The panel accepted that Christie’s professional misconduct arose out of stress and an excessive zeal to help his client, rather than a desire for personal gain. The panel. therefore, imposed a fine on Christie of $2,500. The panel ordinarily would have ordered Christie to pay the Law Society’s costs and expenses of the hearing, which in this case amounted to approximately $50,000. However, the panel had evidence that Christie’s annual income over the past five years had averaged slightly over $50,000 net before tax. Therefore the panel required Christie to pay $20,000 in respect of costs, rather than the full amount