Jewish groups are pleased with the decision by Canada Post to stop delivering an east-end Toronto publication that has been slammed as anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi and homophobic.
Judy Foote, the federal minister responsible for Canada Post, issued an order on June 6 against the delivery of Your Ward News, a free, low-budget newspaper devoted to smashing “cultural Marxism.”
The publication has for years been the subject of complaints in its delivery area, roughly the Beaches and East York. It regularly rails against Zionists, feminism, and welfare recipients, and mocks the Holocaust. It has defended itself as satire.
The newsletter says it has been “Aboriginal owned and operated since 2007.”
As of June 7, its website said the paper is delivered by Canada Post to 305,000 homes, business and apartments, “with a readership of over one million.”
In the past year, B’nai Brith Canada has “received literally hundreds of phone calls and emails from people who have felt victimized by the content in this publication,” Amanda Hohmann, national director of BBC’s League for Human Rights, told The CJN. “We are pleased to see that the government has taken appropriate steps to protect Canadians from this kind of hate propaganda.”
Hohmann denied Your Ward News is satirical “and this is not about free speech. This is about protecting the rights of people, such as Holocaust survivors, from receiving unsolicited hate in their mailboxes.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) also hailed Canada Post’s move.
“Freedom of speech – a core Canadian value – is cheapened and corroded when it is cynically used by extremists to justify the dissemination of hate,” said CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel. “The fact that the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has supported efforts to ban the delivery of Your Ward News reflects a broad consensus about the nature of the racist propaganda featured in this newsletter.”
Fogel also applauded Ottawa lawyer and human rights advocate Richard Warman, who filed a human rights complaint against Your Ward News in April, calling it “misogynist, racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and homophobic hate propaganda” that Canada Post and the federal government were “regularly and knowingly delivering.”
The publication “has long been a source of deep concern to members of the Toronto Jewish community,” said Berl Nadler, co-chair of CIJA Toronto, noting that his organization has provided to police evidence of the paper’s anti-Semitic content for possible hate speech charges.
“It has been very discouraging to note that our hate speech/hate crime laws have diminished in recent years, and that a paper promoting hatred has already been distributed to thousands of homes over a long period of time,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a statement. “The paper typically exhibits provocative language and images that are offensive to Jews primarily, but also to other minority groups.
“I am pleased to see that our government has stepped in and stopped further distribution.”
“It took a community to fight this hateful publication,” noted Bernie Farber, former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress, now executive director of the Mosaic institute and one of the founders of Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice (STAMP). “Faith leaders, human rights advocates, labour leaders and many more…all played a role. Minister Foote heard us and took action. That’s how good advocacy works.”
Your Ward News editor James Sears has filed a request for a review of Foote’s decision. An appeal would consist of a panel appointed by the minister.
He called the Canada Post order “a temporary inconvenience.”
“We’re just a satirical, offensive newspaper,” Sears told CBC News. “It has been found multiple times by Canada Post lawyers that we’re not breaking any hate-speech laws.”
In a statement on his website, Warren Kinsella, a Toronto lawyer and author, called Sears “an unabashed Hitler enthusiast, and has called the gas chambers at Auschwitz a lie.”
Kinsella, also a founder of STAMP, said other contributors to Your Ward News include Gary Schipper, a former leader of the neo-Nazi Heritage Front who served time in jail for refusing to take down the Front’s telephone hate messages.
A year ago, the Toronto Police hate crimes unit launched an investigation into Your Ward News after complaints from a resident who said she was shocked by the publication’s “demonizing Jewish people.”
A question to police about the probe’s results was not immediately answered, but Farber said nothing came of it and neither was there an explanation for the absence of charges.
Also a year ago, Canada Post said Your Ward News did not meet the standard for “non-mailable matter.”
Complaints about the publication were first raised by a Jewish postal worker who objected to delivering it.
The1 Canadian Civil Liberties Association has urged the federal government to reconsider its decision not to deliver Your Ward News.
In a June 9 letter to Foote, the CCLA said it is aware of the complaints against the publication, but that “freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom in Canada. For the government to intervene to prohibit the distribution of a publication is an extraordinary measure that certainly infringes on freedom of expression.”
The CCLA adds that Foote’s order, which is based on “reasonable grounds” that Sears is violating or aiding in violating the hate propaganda and defamatory libel sections of the Criminal Code, is vague because it does not provide specific reasons or examples.
Asked about being anti-Semitic, Sears emailed The CJN in May 2015: “Let me put it in language that your readers would understand. Since the postie putz in question refused to do his job, which is to shlep the mail I paid for, I decided to evoke my Greek heritage and shtup him in the tuches.
“Since he used his Jewish heritage as an excuse for being irresponsible, his Jewishness became fair game… The fact that he was Jewish and he made an issue out of a joke that to any sane person would be anti-Nazi (outing Pierre Trudeau as one), shows that he has a thin skin.
“Furthermore, I never mocked Judaism or Jews in general.
“Finally, in the past, an anti-Semite was someone who hated Jews, but today it appears he is someone who Jews hate.”
Sears is a former Toronto medical doctor who was stripped of his license in 1992 after a court found him guilty of sexually assaulting female patients. The Crown called him “a man out of control.”
He drank on call and admitted to using drugs, his disciplinary hearing was told.
According to a forensic psychiatrist who reviewed his file for the hearing, Sears was described by his superiors as “immature, impulsive, aggressive and demonstrating inappropriate behaviour.”