The federal government is making permanent an interim order preventing Canada Post from delivering Your Ward News, a quarterly publication whose content has prompted hate crimes charges.
Carla Qualtrough, the minister responsible for the national mail carrier, said that after considering the recommendations of an independent board of review, “I have decided to issue a final prohibitory order that will prevent the delivery of the publication Your Ward News, or any substantially similar material developed by its authors, through Canada Post’s unaddressed bulk mail. My decision is consistent with the applicable legislation and the government’s values and stance on inclusiveness and diversity.”
The post office has not delivered Your Ward News since May 26, 2016, when an interim prohibitory order was issued by the minister of public works and government services.
At the time, postal workers, along with many people who had received the tabloid in their mailboxes unbidden, were angry at the content of the paper, which they say crossed the line into pro-Nazi hate propaganda.
The minister’s decision prompted a request for a review by James Sears, editor-in-chief of Your Ward News, and Leroy St. Germaine, its publisher. An independent review board was convened. It held hearings, received submissions and considered the legal basis for denying mail service to the paper. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada and the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), among others, were granted legal standing before the board and made written and oral submissions.
On Nov. 15, 2017, while the board was still considering the case, Sears and St. Germaine were charged with wilfully promoting hatred against Jews and women. The charges arose out of material published in Your Ward News. That trial is expected to get underway in the near future.
The board submitted its report to the minister on Aug. 28. It found that the process of denying mailing privileges to Your Ward News was not procedurally unfair, that “there were reasonable grounds to believe that the affected persons (Sears and St. Germaine) have, by means of mail, sent or caused to be sent items that include hate propaganda” and material that could be considered defamatory.
Despite the minister’s decision, Sears declared victory – at least a partial one.
“The minister’s ruling is good news for us, as most of the mail ban is now lifted,” Sears stated in an email to The CJN. “Up until yesterday, both Leroy and I and any entities we control were unable to use any type of mail for any purpose. We are now only banned from using bulk mail to send out Your Ward News or anything similar. We could start a publication named My Ward News tomorrow and send it out by bulk mail.
“Also, Your Ward News is no longer banned from first class mail, so now we can mail Your Ward News out to our over 1,000 subscribers across the world, including mailing out many back issues we were holding on to in anticipation of the ban being lifted. That will drastically increase our cash flow. Furthermore, we will be appealing the minister’s impotent order focused solely on Your Ward News, out of principle, in the near future, in order to fully restore the paper’s mailing rights.”
Jewish groups applauded the minister’s decision to impose a permanent ban on the delivery of Your Ward News.
“We commend Minister Qualtrough for her principled decision. Your Ward News promotes disgusting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, misogyny, homophobia and racism,” said Noah Shack, CIJA’s vice-president for the Greater Toronto Area.
“Our taxpayer-funded mail service should not be used to distribute such hateful content to hundreds of thousands of households. It is shocking that such vile messages are being peddled here in Canada in 2018. Just think about a Holocaust survivor picking up their mail, only to find neo-Nazi propaganda on their doorstep. This is totally unacceptable.”
“Given the victimization of our community alongside its disrespect of women and most other communities, we are very pleased about this outcome. This is in addition to hate crime charges laid against the paper’s authors now underway,” said Avi Benlolo, FSWC’s president and CEO.
“However, the paper is still being published and distributed by hand and online. We are calling on continued Crown prosecution to the fullest extent of the law and on the federal government to reinstate Section 13 of the (Canadian Human Rights Act), which dealt with online hate speech.”
Not everyone applauded the minister’s decision. Paul Fromm, a long time supporter of white supremacist causes and director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE), responded to the board’s findings on CAFE’s website.
“Your report takes Canada one sad further step into the swamp of a cultural Marxist police state. How can we wag our prissy preaching finger at Russia or Iran for suppressing criticism and free speech and do much the same thing here? You have joined a long list of humourless puritans (religious and otherwise) through the centuries (who were) unable to appreciate spirited satire, which pricked the pompous and privileged and supported the ignored and dispossessed,” Fromm wrote.
“We note the minister has adopted your key recommendations for censorship forever of a publication. Interestingly, people who actually commit vile acts like murder, as opposed to people who say offensive things about privileged minorities, do not face a lifetime penalty.”