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Canada Censorship The Courts

In Canada, Criminal Libel Charges Laid For Criticizing Police 383

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."
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In Canada, Criminal Libel Charges Laid For Criticizing Police

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  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:54AM (#33619246) Journal
    The burden of proof is MUCH higher with criminal charges.

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

    When he's not convicted, this will be seen by many as proof that the RCMP did in fact perjure themselves. Dumb move, cops.

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:31AM (#33619434)

    Ok, what about television and radio broadcast standards? In Canada, I can watch uncut movies on public air broadcast channels that contain violence and nudity. In the US, your broadcasts are under a required broadcast delay and censored when deemed inappropriate. Who in this case has more freedom of speech? Do you think ABC would ever get away with broadcasting nudity on a Friday night?

    And the US constitution does not protect anyone from libel statements. There are limits to acceptable free speech in both countries.

    The article summary just reeks of ignorance and bigotry.

  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:57AM (#33619574) Homepage Journal

    Because you couldn't say or do the same things to someone that wasn't queer, and not get arrested/charged.

    Wait, what? I'm with you on the assault bit, but you're not allowed to walk around with a sign saying "NERDS ARE EVIL SINNERS" or "NERDS WANT TO MAKE YOUR CHILDREN PASTY, BASEMENT-DWELLING SLOBS"?

    You don't have a right not to be offended, IMO. As soon as you set up a group of people that have the ability to tell you to shut up because your speech has "no value", you're just institutionalizing one set of prejudices - a set that might not be stable over time. (Always assume your worst political enemies will gain control of whatever policy you enact.)

  • by Zeek40 ( 1017978 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:45AM (#33619862)
    Does Canada allow people to counter-sue for court charges in a case like this? Because this looks like a case where the police just want to financially ruin someone with attorney's fees without any intent to actually prosecute them.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:13AM (#33620022)

    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

    That's a shifty and deceptive rationalization. It only makes sense if you take a cartoonish view of what happened in the build up to the Second World War.

    The thing to keep in mind is that Hitler didn't rise to power because he said bad things. He rose to power because of three things. Germany had been shafted badly by the Treaty of Versailles and most of Germany had an ax to grind. The Nazis had simplistic solutions to the considerable problems of the everyday German. The Weimar Republic was toothless and weak, not all due to the Treaty of Versailles. For example, it couldn't have enforced a restriction on speech against Hitler. (We know this because they tried even to the point of imprisoning him.) Third, both the Germany military and the elite of Germany had prepared the end of the Weimar Republic. For example, the Junkers funded Hitler and the Nazi Party. Meanwhile, the German military was planning out blitzkrieg warfare (a way of using a highly mobile military with combined arms to defeat a more static force) long before they had a military with which to conduct that sort of warfare. The military ramp up following Hitler's takeover probably was planned years before Hitler took power and would have required considerable support from both military and business elites to carry it off. I can't prove it, but where did Hitler get those ideas and that kind of experience to pull off a six year transition from weak client state to first class military power?

    A serious implication of your statement is that somehow regulated speech would have saved the Weimar Republic from the Nazis. I think that absurd. The average German probably despised the Weimar Republic as a puppet government imposed by military defeat and the government was being undermined by its military and elite. My view is that the Weimar Republic would have ended anyway, even if Hitler remained rotting in jail. Some dictator would have taken over. Then the military strategy of rapid build up and selective invasion via blitzkrieg would have led to the Second World War anyway.

    But instead, we must assume that a healthy country is going to fall into Nazism or worse just because kooks can say mean things. That hasn't happened in the US, for example, despite our (no doubt criminally) lax laws on restricting bad speech. Or perhaps Canada is composed of potential criminals who are only kept in check by careful regulation of their speech?

    When I read naive and ignorant argument like the above, I have to wonder, do you ever think about what you say? No offense, but if you're going to argue for a major restriction on Canada speech based on events leading up to the Second World War, you really should understand those events first. Similarly, if you're going to argue for such a broad restriction on Canadian speech, you really need to understand what is being lost and how these powers can be abused by government.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:35AM (#33620166) Journal
    It's tough. In part, this is to keep lawsuit costs "reasonable" as compared to the runaway litigation down south. Like much of life, it's a crapshoot.
  • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:54AM (#33620286) Journal

    Or, looking at it another way, a single language was used to enforce the control of a privileged minority who trampled the rights and freedoms of people across an entire continent.

    The same thing happened with Arabic in the Ottoman Empire, with English in the British Empire, and with Mandarin in China. The Japanese also attempted it in China, Taiwan, and Korea in their brief imperial period.

    Having a single language is only a good thing if you belong to the culture whose language it was originally. It is never a good sign for people whose cultures used to speak something different.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:07PM (#33620370) Journal
    It depends on the jurisdiction. For example, New York State has a "long-arm" statute, so that it doesn't matter where it took place, as long as you hve a presence in New York. 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..

    The Aryan Nations used to run a hate web site in Canada. After they were ordered to remove it, they just moved it to an American server. The prosecution asked for the judge to issue an order, and he said "Okay, but I don't see what good it will do. It's now out of the court's jurisdiction."

  • Re:ohhh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:08PM (#33620794) Homepage

    settling disputes by fucking

    We do that too sometimes, but we call it rape

    You may call it rape, and maybe in some cases it is, but certainly not in all.

    Depending on the relationship, you may actually find situations where sex (consensual, not rape) does settle disputes. It's hard to remain angry with somebody when you're both awash in that "fresh fucking" glow, after all.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:42PM (#33621040) Journal
    And he's allowed to. There's no law saying that you cannot comment publicly on police behaviour. Look at the tazering to death in the BC airport, and the cover-up that was attempted there before it turned out that people with cell phones had video.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:52PM (#33621126)

    Businesses are owned by humans. Any time you put a restriction on a business you are restricting the rights of their owners who last time I checked were pretty likely to be humans.

  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) < minus herbivore> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:58PM (#33623694)

    Not only do most people not know about jury nullification in the US, it is actually legal for the judge to forbid anybody to mention it, and iirc it is legal for the judge to lie about it's existence.

    Every single time I hear about somebody I know getting a summons, I tell them to google "jury nullification" before they go, but to not mention a thing about it. It's one of the few ways the average citizen can have a direct impact on government these days, and the establishment hates it.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault