Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Canada Censorship The Courts

In Canada, Criminal Libel Charges Laid For Criticizing Police 383

Posted by timothy
from the buncha-hosers-you-say? dept.
BitterOak writes "A Calgary man is facing criminal charges of libel for criticizing police. According to the story, the RCMP have filed five charges against John Kelly for claiming on his website that Calgary police officers engaged in perjury, corruption, and obstruction of justice. What makes the story unusual is that the charges are criminal and not civil. Even in Canada, which has much less free speech protection than the United States, it is extremely rare for people to be charged criminally with libel. It is almost always matter for civil courts."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

In Canada, Criminal Libel Charges Laid For Criticizing Police

Comments Filter:
  • Re:ohhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:23AM (#33619092)

    That's right.

    Thirst for power and oppression of dissent is engrained in the very core of humanity's political genes.

    There is no escape.

  • by Auroch (1403671) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:27AM (#33619106)

    Even in Canada, which has much less free speech protection than the United States ...

    Really? Because in canada there is a tonne of laws protecting free speech - so long as you're not engaging in hate speech. In fact, the laws are almost exactly the same as in the USA in regards to freedom of speech (with hate speech being a key difference).

    I think what the article means to say is that "In canada, they're not litigation happy, and the courts have made it very difficult to get a multimillion dollar settlement for pouring hot coffee on your lap and claiming that it was the fault of the coffee shop for not telling you that coffee is hot... (and other such nonsense cases ... like awarding a family damages over the autism-caused-by-vaccines debacle which has been debunked by real scientists over and over...)".

    Yes, in Canada you can't walk around holding a pistol and suing everyone who looks at you funny. You also can't start a chapter of the KKK, start publishing material that has no value and offends a large audience. Oh, and queer-bashing? Also illegal. Why? Because you couldn't say or do the same things to someone that wasn't queer, and not get arrested/charged. That doesn't mean canada has lax free speech laws. That means Canada has a better system of protecting the rights of its citizens.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:28AM (#33619112) Homepage
    It meant that they could raid his house and get a copy of everything that he had, possibly then loosing some of it for him. If it was a civil action then they would not have been able to do this. What is dreadful is that the ''other side'' (ie the police in this case) get an immediate advantage. This is abuse of power.
  • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:34AM (#33619128)
    If he is innocent and things work there like the US, the charges will be dropped and the police involved will get a suspension with pay while things are being "investigated". The cops will then go back to active duty after the investigations and the whistle blower will be continually harassed because protect each other even when the other is a criminal or eve murderer - I mean accidental shooting victim.
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:39AM (#33619162)

    Don't worry, no matter how fake or factual his claims will be found officially to be baseless.

  • by TermV (49182) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:44AM (#33619188)

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees a Canadian's right to free speech, is inherently weaker than the US constitution because it contains a notwithstanding clause that allows a province to suspend many rights for 5 year periods. Quebec's language laws wouldn't stand up to a first amendment challenge in the US but it is allowed to violate the charter of rights and Freedoms in Canada because they used the notwithstanding clause.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:48AM (#33619216)

    Let's see

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Which one has built in exceptions.

  • by selven (1556643) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:49AM (#33619224)

    Even in Canada, which has much less free speech protection than the United States ...

    Really?

    The first item in the US bill of rights guarantees freedom of speech. What does the first item in our charter of rights do?

    1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

    Oh, right, it effectively nullifies the rest of the charter by including vague language about "reasonable limits".

    You also can't start a chapter of the KKK, start publishing material that has no value and offends a large audience.

    Yeah, that's the problem. See, I don't think we should have government bureaucrats decide whether or not something "has no value". How about we let the audience decide that for themselves? If we want to prove that our ideologies are indeed superior to those of the KKK, that can only be done on a fair and equal forum of debate where the other side has a fair chance to speak. Right now, all we've proved is that the anti-racists have bigger guns.

  • by scream at the sky (989144) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:52AM (#33619234) Homepage

    This guy has an amazing sense of entitlement, and I say this as someone who lives in the Calgary area, and has heard of him through friends who live in the Bowness/Montgomery area.

    Just reading the index to the main site that you listed it is obvious that he just has an axe to grind against the entire community association, probably because he was expelled. Why was he expelled? I have no idea, as all we are able to see is his side of the story, and as we all know there are always at least 3 sides to every story. Yours, Mine, The truth, which is inevitably somewhere in between.

    My side, is that he's an troll who just wants attention, and should not be fed.

  • by scream at the sky (989144) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:57AM (#33619258) Homepage

    The investigation that pressed the criminal charges was conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, not the local Calgary Police Service. The Royal's are the Canuck equivalent to the American FBI, and are a national police force.

    There is a lot of infighting between the various Law Enforcement Agencies in Canada over jurisdictional rights, etc, and to the best of my knowledge, they don't really go out of each others way to help each other out that much.

    This is very evident at family functions. I have a couple of cousins (cousins to each other as well) one is local CPS, and the other is RC. They get into pissing matches with each other all the time over who has the more important role in Canadian Civilization, and I am usually the one who gets to moderate their arguments, generally by telling them both to STFU, and handing them a beer.

  • Re:f the cops! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by multipartmixed (163409) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:58AM (#33619264) Homepage

    Wow!

    What grade are you in?

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:08AM (#33619304)

    Which has fuck all to do with free speech.

    You can let the hate groups fester where nobody can see or you can leave them out in the open to be ridiculed by all.

  • You got it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:11AM (#33619332)

    The problem is that whenever you stop protecting the unpopular speech, and let the government decide what is and is not of "value" or "useful" or whatever, you open the gates to restricting speech for all sorts of bad reasons. It is the unpopular speech that must be protected.

    As an example, look at the sham that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission. You have a lead investigator that said, on the record "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value. It's not my job to give value to an American concept." Where you don't have the right to question your accuser, hearsay is admissible with few exceptions, and truth is not always a defense. Basically, if a plaintiff can demonstrate you hurt their feelings (with rather dubious standards of evidence to do so), even if your statements were true you can get in trouble.

    Really you want free speech very protected, where there are clear lines as to what can't be done and those lines are only there as needed to protect people (like you can't order someone to kill someone else and claim free speech). As it stands in Canada, the laws are used to shut down unpopular speech.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:12AM (#33619340)

    Since when are any governments uniform and consistent?

    Given the choice I'll take the individuals since I can sue them and make their life hard right back and they probably don't have a large number of armed men at their beck and call.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:36AM (#33619456)

    that isn't even a good strawman, are you even trying?

    The point you ignore is that I can do the exact same right back.
    Your way, as seen in TFA if I accuse government employees of things I'll get charged with criminal libel, not just civil.
    In a hypothetical scenario where the police had accused him of even worse things, say raping kids and cannibalism how much chance would there be of any of them being charged with criminal libel?

    I'll take the somewhat vaguely, hopefully but of course not always equal playing field of individual vs individual over that kind of system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:46AM (#33619500)

    They are a affront to your freedom but not mine.
    Like he parent said, the majority in Quebec are in agreement with these laws.
    Without these laws we would lose our language

    Yet in the US the French-speaking population in Lousiana do not require special language and cultural protections despite being surrounded by an overwhelming English-speaking population in most of the country.

  • by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:48AM (#33619512)
    Stifling free speech is never a good thing. Whether it's hate speech laws or outright criminal charges to stifle someone. This is for fail, not for good.
  • by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:54AM (#33619542)
    So someone committing a blatant crime is an example of the failure of free speech? You silly, or dumb, or both. Either way you're fucked up.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:22AM (#33619756) Journal

    >>>Without these laws we would lose our language

    So? There have been millions of human languages... only about 1% of them have survived to the modern day. In fact the world would be better served if everyone spoke just a few. Look at the benefits gained when Roman Latin replaced the native european languages (circa 100 to 900 AD) - you could travel anywhere from Africa to Rome to Portugal to Britannia, and communicate to everyone with ease.

    A single language promoted the sharing of ideas and unity. It's not like that today, due to devolution of Latin into a polyglut of languages. A Roman can no longer communicate with a Portuguese citizen or British citizen or German citizen as easily as he could 1500 years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:28AM (#33619782)

    Which country as the free speech zones?

    Which country has protesters that think freedom of speech means the freedom to disrupt gatherings and proceedings of people that they disagree with?
    Which country has protesters that think freedom of speech means the freedom to shout down and drown out the voices of those they disagree with so that speech that they disagree with cannot be heard?

    Yeah that's right. America.

    Free speech zones were put in place for people who think their right to free speech trumps everybody else's right to free speech.

    Think of free speech zones as the kiddy table of free speech.

  • Re:ohhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:37AM (#33619814) Homepage Journal

    Not just our 'political' genes, but our actual genes.

    Every simian species* has a hirarchical social structure whereby those at the top dominate and control those at the bottom, often extremely viciously. Humans are little different in that respect.

    *Except Bonobos, who settling disputes by fucking, and spend most of their spare time doing the same. Man, I wish we were more like Bonobos.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:37AM (#33619818) Journal

    >>>You also can't start a chapter of the KKK, start publishing material that has no value and offends a large audience. Oh, and queer-bashing? Also illegal.

    It shouldn't be. You're not truly a "free" person if you don't have the right to be an asshole. You've basically made assholes second-class citizens without rights and without freedom - i.e. you demoted them to Serfs. So in my opinion the United States enjoys more freedom because even assholes are free to be themselves.

    Yes I'm being serious. Freedom means freedom for ALL people, even the ones you don't like
    .

  • by pooh666 (624584) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:40AM (#33619836)
    Well said. So my freedom is worth less than yours. That sums up the language laws quiet well. I am less free, because you want to keep your "culture" I never have understood what that culture is actuality. The culture of whining and demanding your rights, no matter the effect on others? Those laws start with the idea that the English are out to get the "French" when the people of France can barely understand Quebecois. So who are the French of Quebec and why do they have more rights that other people?
  • by sbates (1832606) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:50AM (#33619890)

    I believe the individual was referring to such bodies as the Alberta Human Rights Commission. These bodies have the ability to prosecute an individual for speech outside of the normal judiciary and without any of the normal protections you might expect from a judiciary. In that sense free speech takes a hard hit, especially when you have to wonder what solution the AHRC (and others like it) provide that the courts could not.

  • by selven (1556643) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:57AM (#33619920)

    It's literally impossible, for example, for working-class Black lesbians to have a fair and equal debate with bourgeois white straights; there's too much of a power imbalance.

    Fortunately, we have people (like me) willing to stand up for Black lesbians as a matter of principle. Besides, these days the internet is giving everyone a much more equal voice than before, so I don't see how you could claim that anyone actually being silenced (except by hate speech laws).

    As much as armchair libertarians like to claim it is, speech is not harmless. Someone's probably going to call Godwin's law and ignore the rest of this post, but speech is the means by which the Holocaust got under way.

    The Holocaust did not start because of speech, it started because people started trashing Jewish shops and later shoving Jews into gas chambers. That is what should be punished. Just as you don't sue Smith&Wesson if someone shoots your son - you sue the murderer, the blame for any actual hate crimes should fall solely on the actual perpetrators.

    It wasn't just Hitler's regime randomly foisting anti-Semitism upon the masses, but mass complicity in the anti-Semitism by the common German, which was played off of by Hitler's regime. Basically, the national discourse around Jews at the time was similar to our national discourse around undocumented immigrants at the moment.

    So if the government had violently suppressed anti-Semitism it would have stopped? As much as authoritarians want things to work that way, they don't.

  • by McGiraf (196030) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:23AM (#33620074) Homepage

    Fine if less language is better learn French and stop using English.

    Language is a big part of culture, mono-culture is very bad, not only in computers (windows zombies)m also in agriculture and society.

    Languages dies, like culture and civilizations and people.

    "A single language promoted the sharing of ideas and unity."

    Multiple languages promote innovation and diversity, I like that better.

    Speaking more than one language give you a broader mind, as our thinking is dictated by words, language structures, we think mostly in words.

    Ask anybody who speaks multiple languages, there is words and concepts in each of them that can only be approximated in other languages.

    The Quebec Languages law do not aim to eradicate English, they are there to preserve French.
    There is mandatory English classes in French schools.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:24AM (#33620080) Homepage Journal
    Rottenapples. Wow. I actually read a few pages. I had to force myself to keep reading after the first page - unnecessary bold print, highlighted print, unnecessary capitalizations - on and on. It looks like any other conspiracy nut's site, really. I'm not even a grammar nazi, but these conspiracy nuts seem to use the printed page to assault you! Thanks for the link, but it doesn't do much to garner sympathy to the defendant, LOL I expect, though, that filing suit against the guy will just have the streisand effect on things. (I mean aside from the site being slashdotted - a well known phenomena in and of itself) The more people who hear of the case, the more visits to the site, the more whackos are going to believe what they want to believe, rather than any facts that get in the way. Ehh. If the cops are stupid enough to feed the troll, they deserve all the bad publicity they can get.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:36AM (#33620178) Journal

    >>>Fine if less language is better learn French and stop using English.

    I'd rather we all go back to the root language, Roman Latin. Or even better - let languages evolve naturally rather than outlaw English in certain jurisdictions and make Anglophones feels like second class shits that should get the hell out of Quebec or France. (Been there; experienced it myself.)

    .
    >>>Multiple languages promote innovation and diversity, I like that better.

    Citation please. History shows the exact opposite, where multiple languages promote distrust of "that strange-speaking guy" and eventually war over trivialities like "he don't speak right".

  • by Haeleth (414428) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:10PM (#33620390) Journal

    And yet by forcing society to permit hate groups like the KKK, you deprive everyone else of the democratic right to choose the laws that they are governed by.

  • Re:ohhh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by shadowofwind (1209890) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:12PM (#33620424)

    settling disputes by fucking

    We do that too sometimes, but we call it rape, and when it's organized and sanctioned by a political group, as in Bosnia or Congo, we call it a crime against humanity.

    Yeah, invasive behavior is in our genes, but the capacity for respect and self control is also.

  • Re:ohhh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:02PM (#33620748) Homepage Journal

    I don't think you can call rape a way of settling a dispute.

  • Re:ohhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:02PM (#33620752)

    settling disputes by fucking

    We do that too sometimes, but we call it rape, and when it's organized and sanctioned by a political group, as in Bosnia or Congo, we call it a crime against humanity.

    No, we don't. We call it makeup sex. And it's consensual, not invasive. Rape and pillaging aren't about solving disputes... they are purely carnal and direct abuses of power. In your attempt to classify monkeys as being beneath us humans, you only succeeded to show further similarity.

  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:14PM (#33620854) Homepage

    All the guy has to do is raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of ONE juror.

    Even in the US, that's hardly sufficient to reliably be acquitted. If one juror's doubt is merely reasonable, the odds of him caving to the other jurors are quite high. It requires considerable certainty to persist when hounded by five or eleven other people.

    The juror's decision must be unanimous, and if one juror sticks to his gun and will not vote guilty, and the other jurors stick to their guns and vote guilty -- this eventually results in a mistrial and the accused gets a new trial -- and really, if the case was strong enough to convince eleven out of twelve this time, it'll likely end with a guilty verdict next time.

    And besides, the jurors probably don't want to be there. If only one juror disagrees with the rest, he knows that he's the one keeping everybody from going home, and may change his mind just for that matter.

    You should do jury duty at least once. It's frustrating and boring at times, but it's also interesting and eye-opening.

  • Re:ohhh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishexe (168879) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:23PM (#33620934) Homepage

    settling disputes by fucking

    We do that too sometimes, but we call it rape...

    I thought we called it make-up sex. Perhaps you have "settling disputes" and "exhibiting dominance" a little bit confused?

  • Re:You got it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:37PM (#33621372)

    geek time:

    With the first link the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:55PM (#33622140)

    I am a U.S. citizen who is appalled by my country deciding that announcing your intentions to burn Koran's amounts to something that should be prevented. The right to free speech does not include just being able to say only those things (or otherwise communicate ideas) which are non-offensive but also must include the right to say offensive things. Including the right to show contempt for the Muslim religion by burning a book. (by the way, I do not approve of burning the Koran, the Bible, or any other religious text.). When my government takes notices of this, and tries to suppress it, that is when I get concerned about the right for free speech.

    Libel, in this Canadian case, must be based on facts showing that the statements being made were untrue and that the defendant knew this but went ahead and said them for malicious reasons.

    Do not confuse punishing libelous speech with punishing free speech.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:28PM (#33622328)

    Canada doesn't have a similar statute with respect to anything except sexual exploitation of minors (so don't visit Thailand for a nasty weekend of child abuse) and terrorism

    Consensual sex is NOT "child abuse", and no matter how popular the opinion may be, people under the age of 21 (or 18 in some countries) do have cognitive abilities that enable them to make decisions (i.e. "consent").

    Judging by the fact that people like you prop up such myths is evidence that people lose much of their free will (i.e. the ability to "consent") as they "mature" as adults. Children usually don't develop such perverted hangups about sex unless they are specifically taught that sex is bad. Ironically, there is usually a vast amount of hypocrisy by people who demonize sexuality.

    I can anticipate a defensive reaction instead of an acknowledgment of being wrong. People like you usually "win" by such emotional appeals and cliches as "nasty weekend of child abuse". With a statistic and an anecdote thrown in for good measure you'd probably be up-Moderated a lot quicker and a lot higher.

  • by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:05PM (#33622528)
    Eh...the foods better.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS

Working...