Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Rick Boswick has been given a suspended sentence and 12 months probation for threatening bodily harm against a Toronto anti-fascist activist.
Judge Joseph Bovard handed down his ruling in an Ontario court on Friday, citing Boswick’s troubled childhood, substance abuse issues, previous criminal record and his willingness to engage in counselling in his decision.
“I’m confident that Mr. Boswick has learned a hard lesson and will not be before the court again,” said Bovard in his decision, adding that he believed the long prosecution process had served as a deterrent to others who would look at the case.
Additional conditions on his sentence include not publishing any material related to his victim for the duration of his probation, a prohibition on owning weapons, supervision, and counselling. A Gladue report was also considered as part of the sentencing. These reports acknowledge that Indigenous peoples face systemic racism as part of court proceedings and are factored into sentencing decisions -- Boswick said he was happy the report was considered.
He will not be required to turn over his DNA due to the financial hardship of travelling back to Toronto from Ottawa, the judge said.
Boswick, 45, is known for his involvement in the harassment of Soufi’s, a Toronto eatery run by a Syrian family, which had to temporarily shutter its doors due to the intense nature of the harassment and threats they were receiving. In addition, Boswick was present during the attack on Hamilton Pride, and has disrupted Drag Queen Story Hour with hate preacher Dorre Love. Love is currently facing assault charges for attacking a man in Vancouver’s gay village, and breaking his leg.
Boswick represented himself during the August 2020 proceedings. While he maintained that the evidence in question – a video streamed to Facebook in Spring 2019 – did not constitute a threat, one of his own witnesses conceded that it was a threat.
When reached for comment, Boswick maintained that he did not threaten anyone.
“I have to read the actual ruling deciding whether or not to appeal. It’s something that is beyond my means, I’m tired,” Boswick said in a phone call. “I just have to make sure what I understand is my sentence today is in the declaration on Monday [and] based on that I will make my decision to appeal.”
“I’m elated with the judge's explanation for the judgement, he was empathetic that based on witness testimony and my conduct that I did better than average in the court.”
The day’s sentencing saw Boswick call a number of character witnesses, all of which characterized him as non-violent and as a reformed family man. His own statement before the court included expression of regret “if” his actions had impacted the victim, but maintained he had not committed a crime.
The Crown asked for a conditional sentence, or house arrest, of six months alongside conditions.
Most objectionable to Boswick was the condition that he not publish, participate or post any online content about the victim. This is likely due to the condition interfering with his plan to release a self-produced documentary titled “Lawfare.” He has indicated in the past that this would focus on his court case.
Boswick, who had previously filed a motion for mistrial, also stated during another court appearance that he has filed a constitutional challenge with the Attorney General, though also reports that this was dismissed due to his failure to provide all the required paperwork. He had regularly cited issues with the procedure, the travel required, and a lack of help from legal aid.
During a livestream in March 2021, Boswick called the crown attorney prosecuting him, a woman of colour, a “diversity hire,” and claimed that the video in evidence was doctored.
In the same video, Boswick launched into complaints that the refusal to allow the full 90 minute livestream in which he and two others threatened the antifascist into evidence amounted to lies and “customizing of the testimony” before baselessly accusing the victim of terrorism.
The Inciting Incident
The video in question, streamed to Facebook in Spring 2019, Boswick argued did not constitute a threat despite one of his witnesses even conceded that it was during trial.
“You’re done bud... Get ready. We’re going to start carrying fucking paintball pistols with fucking rubberized marbles, skullbreakers they call them... You fucking act as insane as you are at a fucking protest and I have something like that on my arm I will fucking sh-…, well, I will use it responsibly," he said in the stream. "That’s the only thing I have to say. Given the laws, I will use it only in worst-case scenario but I will relish when I shoot one of you in the fucking forehead with a marble.”
Boswick appeared in the video with Cory Scott and Derek Storie.
Derek Storie (L), Cory Scott, and Rick Boswick (R). Source: Screenshot from video
He spent much of the trial arguing that the full video should be shown for context, telling Judge Bovard, “Two minutes of, you know, drunken rants, doesn’t really give you a good sentiment of where people are coming from, what they’re trying to convey, in a 90-minute message."
Boswick had agreed during the pre-trial proceedings that the full video was unnecessary. It was not permitted to be shown in court, but the judge said he reviewed it.
Anti-Muslim vlogger Kevin Johnston was called to testify on the second day, during which he argued that the victim “supports radical Islam,” and alleged that he was part of an assault Johnston suffered in Ottawa in 2017, which is not true. Johnston characterized Boswick as polite and having a good reputation. Because he raised the issue of Johnston's character, the prosecution was able to introduce Boswick's prior criminal harassment conviction on cross-examination.
Boswick also called Jack Reynolds, a fixture in the Toronto far-right protest scene. Pressing Reynolds on his knowledge of terms and phrases like “creep catchers,” Judge Bovard ruled the majority of Boswick’s questions irrelevant.
Anti-Muslim activist Sandra Solomon was called as a witness shortly after. Crown Nagra read the transcript of the video clip in evidence to Solomon, who insisted Boswick never swears, raises his voice, or threatens people. Asked if the video is an example of Boswick yelling and swearing, Solomon agreed. When the Crown asked if the video included a threat, Solomon agreed that yes, it was a threat, but told the court that Boswick can't be held responsible because he's drunk.
Ed Jamnisek of the Northern Guard and Pegida was also called by Boswick as a witness. Jamnisek told the court that the Pegida rally attendees are “scarred emotionally,” and suffer from “psychological stress if not PTSD.” The court dismissed these claims as irrelevant. Jamnisek also admits that he never saw the victim at the rally in question.
After cross-examination of Jamnisek, Boswick attempts to re-examine him. After this was shut down, Boswick exclaims that he is “getting railroaded.”
Boswick and many of the witnesses attempted to use the proceedings to convince the court to pursue judicial action against anti-fascism and anti-fascists, which was routinely shut down by the court as irrelevant to the fact of whether Boswick uttered a threat.