A white supremacist who posted hate propaganda on the Internet has been found in contempt of court for ignoring an order to get rid of the offensive material.
In a split decision, two of three judges at a Federal Court of Appeal hearing in Vancouver overturned a Federal Court ruling from last November.The lower court found Regina resident Terry Tremaine not guilty of contempt because he was not appropriately informed of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order to remove hateful articles from a website.
That same ruling also determined Tremaine has a particular hatred for blacks, First Nations people and Jews and that he deliberately disobeyed the 2007 tribunal order to quit publishing his racist views online.
The Federal Appeal Court said the trial judge was wrong to find that a deliberate violation of a tribunal ruling is not enough to prompt a contempt conviction.
The appeal court has sent the matter back to Federal Court for sentencing of the former University of Saskatchewan math lecturer.
Judge Sean Harrington, who called Tremaine "virulently anti Jewish," ruled a year ago that Tremaine was not in contempt of court because he didn't deliberately breach the order.
Harrington accepted Tremaine's defence that the order did not make it sufficiently clear that he had to remove, or least do his best to remove, material from the Internet that the tribunal found hateful.
Cease and desist order
But writing for the majority, Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marc Noel said "it would be a strange result" if Tremaine construed the order as permitting him to leave the material on his website after he was made aware in 2007 that the tribunal found it offensive.
"Indeed, counsel for the respondent acknowledged that the order requires Mr. Tremaine `to cease and desist, which is to stop and not do again' and Mr. Tremaine chose to do exactly the opposite," Noel said.
Tremaine claims to be the leader of the unregistered National-Socialist Party of Canada, which is "dedicated to the creation of a white racialist state in Canada" and for which he set up a website to promote his beliefs.
"According to Mr. Tremaine's testimony, the reason why he chose to disregard the order of the tribunal is that he had contempt for the tribunal and believed that his views had to be addressed regardless of the tribunal order," Noel said in the ruling.
Noel noted that Tremaine told the Federal Court hearing that he ignored the cease and desist order "to address the urgent matter of impending white extinction."
Tremaine, who is awaiting trial in Saskatchewan for disseminating hate propaganda, said he couldn't remove the Internet messages because the bail conditions imposed on him in January 2008 prohibited him from accessing the Internet.
But Noel found that was not the case.
"The record reveals that Mr. Tremaine did access the Internet after January 2008 despite the conditions imposed on him."
Potential prison sentence
Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who filed the original complaint against Tremaine in October 2004, said in an interview that Tremaine had the bail condition varied on grounds that he needed to use the Internet to pursue his defence.
Warman said contempt of court sentences can include unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.
Ontario white supremacist Gary Shipper and Wolfgang Droege, founding leader of the Heritage Front, the largest neo-Nazi group in Canada in the 1980s, have both been jailed for ignoring court orders.
"In this case, Mr. Tremaine has been deliberately ignoring a legal order against him for four years," Warman said.
"You would think that even after four years of ignoring a court order or a legal order that once it comes home to you that the Federal Court of Appeal has found you in contempt you would immediately take action to comply, and he hasn't done that. And that is just shocking disrespect of the rule of law in Canada."
Tremaine was represented at the hearing by lawyer Doug Christie, whose previous clients include Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel.
The offensive material remained on Tremaine's website on Friday.