Toronto police are again investigating Your Ward News for potential hate crimes, but a Thorncliffe Park resident who was one of the first to call on Canada Post to stop delivering the publication doesn’t believe criminal charges will result.
Simon Rosenblum has read the Winter 2017 issue of the pro-Nazi publication, and believes “It’s more or less the same” as previous editions.
“I’m no expert, but I would be really surprised if anybody can get them on [hate crimes],” said Rosenblum, who once served as Israel affairs spokesperson for Canadian Jewish Congress.
“It’s despicable, unsavoury and all those things, but… I’ve never thought it crossed over into hate law,” he said.
Your Ward News, which bills itself as “the world’s largest anti-Marxist publication,” is a bizarre collection of anti-Marxist rants, stream of consciousness rambling, essays linking Jews to Communism, and assorted anti-gay an pro-Nazi articles. The tabloid also employs photographic collages that invariably include Nazi imagery and other photos and articles portraying Jews as evil. The winter cover includes a manipulated image of Jewish financier George Soros, with horns, wearing a tunic emblazoned with the satanic number 666 and the Star of David.
In 2015, Your Ward News claimed it was delivered to 48,000 homes and was read by 300,000 people. The paper’s website today states it is delivered to 300,000 homes and businesses in an area bounded broadly by Highway 401 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, and from Victoria Park in the east to as far west as Lansdowne Avenue. It claims to have more than one million readers.
Police told CBC News they’re investigating the paper in response to a complaint from a resident in the Mt. Pleasant Road and St. Clair Avenue area.
James Sears, the publication’s editor-in-chief, said in an email to The CJN that “law enforcement has launched multiple investigations into our newspaper, and they have never found us to be in breach of any law. I welcome the announcement of a new investigation, as it is excellent publicity for both Your Ward News and my personal political agenda.
“All topics discussed in Your Ward News are in the public interest and should be open for discussion. Furthermore, while many far right groups wish to bring harm to your people specifically, I do not concur. Even though your people murdered my ancestors, God asked me to forgive you, and help you come to Jesus Christ in order to be perfected. There is no hate on my part or on the part of my Aboriginal publisher Leroy St. Germaine toward any group. Just tough love. You Jews need it.”
Sears signed off on an email to The CJN with the words, “Jesus loves you.”
Police investigated Your Ward News in 2015, but no hate crimes charges were laid. At the time, concerns over the publication were raised by a Jewish postal worker, who objected to delivering it.
Rosenblum, who received the publication in his mailbox around that time, complained to Canada Post, arguing a government agency shouldn’t deliver material that was so offensive.
“As much as I am a First Amendment [freedom of speech] guy in American terms, it doesn’t mean that Canada Post is obliged to do the dirty work,” Rosenblum said.
In May 2016, Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman launched a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act, arguing that Canada Post and the government of Canada violated the human rights legislation by distributing the tabloid publication. He called Your Ward News “misogynist, racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and homophobic hate propaganda.”
A month later, Judy Foote, minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, announced she was stopping its delivery by Canada Post.
Sears has said he is contesting that decision and has “retained top-notch legal counsel to push the case along.” He also claimed “Foote has been dragging her ass for over eight months with no date set yet!”
Meanwhile, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) noted that it had provided police with evidence of Your Ward News’ anti-Semitic content.
“Your Ward News, a hateful and blatantly anti-Semitic paper, has long been a source of deep concern to members of the Toronto Jewish community,” said Sara Lefton, vice-president of CIJA Toronto.
“Your Ward News is a shameful example of anti-Semitic propaganda that has no place in Canada. It is CIJA’s view that the content of Your Ward News violates Canadian hate speech laws under the Criminal Code, which is why we have provided evidence of its anti-Semitic content to local law enforcement for the consideration of hate speech charges.
“We are closely monitoring the distribution of the paper, and urge our community members to let us know if they receive a copy at their address. We also encourage community members who receive the paper submit a complaint to local police,” Lefton stated.