NEWS

Ezra Levant responds to law society hearing over 'crazy town' column

07/16/2015 06:36 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
Ezra Levant says there are two ways to get him to stop criticizing human rights commissions: duct tape or death.

The Law Society of Alberta issued citations against the outspoken media personality and lawyer following comments made in a 2014 Sun News opinion column called 'Next stop, crazy town' where Levant is critical of the province's human rights commission.

When reached by phone Thursday, Levant stood by his column.

"Human rights commissions are crazy," said Levant, "I will never stop saying that until I'm dead."

The law society has issued a citation alleging Levant's comments were "inappropriate and unbecoming" of a lawyer.

A conduct committee panel directed that he be charged with "conduct deserving of sanction," although a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

"There is no way to stop me other than by taking duct tape and literally taping my mouth shut," said Levant.

Levant's practising status with the society is inactive, meaning he's a member but is not insured and not entitled to practice law.  If he's found guilty, he could be reprimanded, fined, suspended or disbarred. At any point in the process the lawyer involved can apply to resign from profession rather than face public discipline.

"It's a disgrace that lawyers who pay enormous dues [to the Law Society of Alberta] are paying for this prosecution of me," said Levant.

Levant says he has considered resigning, but will only do that after he clears his name. 

"I'm not going to allow some bullies to run me out of the profession," said Levant.

Complaint launched by lawyer Arman Chak

The complaint was launched by lawyer Arman Chak in March of last year, but was initially dismissed by a formal complaints reviewer without a hearing.

The reviewer emphasized the high threshold for misconduct, that Levant was acting as a journalist at the time of making the statements, and that in his view there was no reasonable prospect that a hearing panel would find Levant's conduct breached the code of conduct.

Chak appealed on Oct. 28. The panel granted Chak's appeal seven months later, paving the way for a hearing on the citations.

Rooney argued his client made the comments as a journalist and had a right to "fair and free comment," and that he should be entitled to criticize because it is not in his capacity as a lawyer.

The panel members disagreed.

"We are of the view that ... Mr. Levant is subject to regulation by the Law Society of Alberta," reads the decision.

Chak and Levant have an unfriendly history dating back to 2008 when Levant posted a column online called Inside the HRCs: Who is Arman Chak?

According to the transcript of the appeal hearing, Levant's lawyer James Rooney said, "there is obviously quite a bit of malice between these gentlemen."

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