Something hateful this way comes

Bernie Farber

Recently anti-Semitism made an unwelcome and sadly familiar reappearance in the Beaches area of Toronto. The Toronto Police hate crimes unit is now investigating whether Your Ward News, a previously wacky and now racist publication, may be violating Canada’s hate laws.

Indeed, a read of the current edition may stun some readers. My friend Warren Kinsella, author of the seminal book Web of Hate, certainly thinks the newsletter falls into the hate category and has neatly listed the violations on his website 

• Editorials railing against Jewish postal workers, “ZioMarxists,” “parasites,” and what the paper’s editor calls “the illegitimate Zionist apartheid state of Israel that holocausts Palestinians.” 

• Advertisements promoting something called the “New Constitution Party,” whose membership cards feature Nazi salutes and references to “88” – neo-Nazi code for “HH,” or “Heil Hitler.” 

• Articles promoting Holocaust deniers Ernst Zundel, David Irving and Fred Leuchter, and articles promoting Shoah denial written by Gary Schipper, former voice of the neo-Nazi Heritage Front, who now goes by the false name “Johnny Jensen.” 

• A lengthy anti-Israel polemic describing the need for “Israeli Niggers to go home,” how the Jewish state “murders thousands” every year, that Zionists are “ZioFascists” and racists, that Israel forcibly sterilizes non-white immigrant women and practises Nazi-style eugenics – and repeats the old canard that Jews are not “true biblical Jews,” a theory favoured by neo-Nazis. 

• Articles promoting “white nationalism,” skinheads and the defunct neo-Nazi Heritage Front, in which the author – who describes herself as a “white woman” who favours “white pride” – talks openly about how “white people reserve the right to protest the rape and disfiguration of our country” by non-whites and calls the New Constitution Party a vehicle for opposing “Racial Marxism.” 

• A letters column mocking Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for her sexual orientation, and attacking “homos” and “queens” – and a related editorial calling Pride “a freak show on parade floats.” 

• An ad decrying “lies that the ZioMarxist-controlled mainstream media is feeding you about Adolf Hitler” and calling for Jews to be “deprogrammed from anti-German propaganda.” 

Reminiscent of the late 1980s and early ’90s, when racist groups produced hateful phone messages, the language used by Your Ward News surely seems to meet the test to consider laying charges under Section 319 of the Criminal Code, Canada’s anti-hate law. Similar to virtually every democratic country in the world, including Israel (with the United States the only holdout), Canada’s anti-hate laws were designed to protect us from the vilest expressions of hatred. 

Some say anti-hate laws grossly curtail free speech. However, in my view, the law has been carefully crafted and even more carefully interpreted, twice, by the Supreme Court of Canada as both needed and constitutional. A recent decision on a hate prosecution was unanimously upheld. 

Wrote Justice Marshall Rotstein: “Hate speech is an effort to marginalize individuals based on their membership in a group. Using expression that exposes the group to hatred, hate speech seeks to delegitimize group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society. Hate speech, therefore, rises beyond causing distress to individual group members. It can have a societal impact.”

By these words alone, Your Ward News seems to have clearly crossed the line from merely offensive speech to shameful hatred. And judging by the fact former stalwarts of the once defunct neo-Nazi Heritage Front are among its stable of writers can it be any wonder?

Your Ward News is distributed free of charge, courtesy of Canada Post, to (allegedly) 50,000 households in east Toronto. And the good news for the Jewish community is that many neighbours have complained bitterly in an area that is hardly Jewish. Good for them. Now we await action from the authorities.