Notorious anti-LBGTQ+ activist Bill Whatcott ordered to pay $55,000 for anti-trans flyers
While victory sets a strong legal precedent, it also underscores need for better legislation
March 28, 2019
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
On March 27, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that notorious homophobe Bill Whatcott’s anti-trans flyers targeting Morgane Oger were a discriminatory publication likely to expose a person or a group or class of persons to hatred or contempt. The Tribunal has ordered Whatcott to pay Oger a total of $55,000.
Oger ran as the NDP Candidate in Vancouver – False Creek in 2017. During her campaign Whatcott distributed 1500 copies of an anti-LGBTQ+ flyer referring to Morgane as a “transvestite” in the riding and published it online. She lost the election by 400 votes.
Whatcott is well known for his anti-LGBTQ+ screeds and is no stranger to courtrooms. In 2013 he was the subject of a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) case as the result of flyers, one of which was titled “Keep Homosexuality out of Saskatoon’s Public Schools!”. This resulted in the SCC upholding Canada’s hate speech laws as constitutional. In June of 2018 Whatcott was charged by the Toronto Police Service for infiltrating the Toronto Pride Parade under a fake name in 2016 to hand out ‘anti-sodomy’ pamphlets.
Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm came to Whatcott’s defence as an intervenor in the case under the auspices of his organization, the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE). The Tribunal writes: “the intervention was not helpful and at times constituted an unwelcome and inflammatory distraction.” Further, “CAFE’s comments about Ms. Oger are completely improper and could fairly be the subject of a costs award if made by a party.” CAFE has been recognized as an intervenor in several cases.
Oger’s lawyer Susanna Allevato Quail tells the Toronto Star that the ruling in Oger’s favour sets a legal precedent that it’s not “a legitimate subject of public debate whether or not it’s OK to be transgender or whether transgender people are real.”
While this is a victory for human rights in Canada, not every province has this legislation; legal fees are expensive; and even if the wronged party wins and is awarded restitution and/or costs, they may never recover enough money from the people that wronged them to cover their legal expenses.
Bringing back Section 13 (s. 13) of the Canadian Human Rights Act is one solution which is currently being considered by the House of Commons Justice Committee.
S. 13 made it possible for any Canadian to make a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission regarding individuals or groups communicating hate online. If the CHRC found the complaint to be reasonable, it would go to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, a semi-judicial body which could order a cease and desist and a small fine. If the individual refused to stop, they would be in contempt of court and may face jail time.
Canadian Anti-Hate Member board member Richard Warman researched, filed, and litigated 16 successful complaints against online hate and the individuals and groups responsible under s. 13, resulting in a generation of hatemongers being forced offline.
This legal tool to address the spread of hatred was found constitutional by the Supreme Court, but removed by the Conservative government nonetheless in 2013. There are relatively few tools to address unrepentant hate propagandists in its absence.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network supports bringing back s. 13, but notes that it will only be a successful tool if the CHRC and Tribunal are sufficiently resourced.
Mayor Dale Bumstead
MLA Mike Bernier
MP Bob Zimmer
Dawson Creek RCMP
We represent the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (antihate.ca), a non-profit organization which monitors hate groups and their activities in Canada. We deliver information to the public and media and we provide information and evidence to law enforcement, and have done so on several criminal investigations across Canada.
Our advisory group is made up of Canada’s leading experts on hate groups and hate crimes, including human rights lawyers, academics, journalists, court-recognized experts, and leaders in targeted communities.
We are writing you this public letter today because we are deeply concerned by reports that the Soldiers of Odin are active in your community, engaging in volunteerism and participating in civic events, seemingly with the tacit acceptance or support of some public officials.
The Soldiers of Odin are an anti-Muslim hate group. They were founded in Finland by a self-identifying neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of racially motivated assault. It’s well documented that the Canadian organization has attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Several political parties and figures in Canada have disavowed the support of the Soldiers of Odin, like the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Others have found associating with the Soldiers of Odin to be a setback to their political aspirations. There is a growing recognition of what the group represents.
The statement by the RCMP that the Soldiers of Odin are not a concern is incorrect. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and others have documented overtly racist statements targeting Muslims and other groups, and posts celebrating or encouraging violence.
Whether the local chapter engages in these behaviours is besides the point – you wouldn’t welcome a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in your backyard even if they were doing garbage pickups and promised never to burn a cross. By using the same name, engaging in volunteerism, and finding the tacit acceptance of prominent figures in your community, they are whitewashing the Soldiers of Odin brand Canada-wide.
We call on you to send a strong message that you do not support hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin operating in your community, and that they will not be part of any community policing plan.
Bernie Farber, Chair
Richard Warman, Board Member
Amira Elghawaby, Board Member
Evan Balgord, Executive Director
"As we enter an era of truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, it’s time to reconsider what to do with such symbols from the past," writes co-author Bernie Farber, Chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. "We offer a few arguments in support of the removal of a statue of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, from the steps of Victoria’s city hall."
. . .
"Despite any good that may be attributed to Macdonald, his record of cruelty, barbarism and even genocide should preclude him from receiving any honours, statues included. We cannot change Canada’s past but we can, by working together, change our future for the better."
On August 9th, the first rainbow crosswalk in Burnaby, BC was vandalized. The outline of the graffiti comes from an antisemitic meme and the dot in the question mark is a Star of David. The alt-right neo-Nazis believe in a Jewish conspiracy to promote lgbtq+ rights, which they view as degenerate. In context, this is both an antisemitic and anti-lgbtq+ hate crime.
The Worldwide Coalition Against Islam failed to hold a rally in Toronto on August 12th in the face of a planned counter-demonstration and far-right infighting. Instead, an anti-hate rally was held at Nathan Phillips Square. Coverage of the victory against the WCAI was overshadowed by coverage of an incident during the event in which an anti-racist demonstrator took a photographer’s hat, laying hands on him in the process. That individual has been charged with assault.
Also on August 12th, ID Canada (Identity Canada), a group associated with the alt-right movement with chapters across Canada, did a surprise banner drop over the Don Valley Parkway.
The Soldiers of Odin claimed they would use force to break up a homeless encampment in Nanaimo, BC on August 19th. The SOO were a no show. Some opponents of the camp came to protest anyways, and were outnumbered by anti-racist demonstrators.
The National Citizens Alliance held a 5-person strong demonstration in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also on August 19th. They were outnumbered by 60-80 counter-demonstrators.
The NCA warns about what they call ‘extreme multiculturalism’. Its founder, Stephen Garvey, is a regular speaker at anti-Muslim rallies and has stood alongside the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, which calls Muslims sewage, scum, and has called for their execution.
Toronto’s anti-fascist and anti-racist community held a community BBQ on Sunday to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the riot at Christie Pits. In 1933, a group called the ‘Pit Gang’ unfurled a swastika banner at a baseball game. Jewish and Italian immigrants fought back, reinforcements were called, and the brawl lasted for six hours.