AUDIO – DESCRIPTION:
It’s 1983. Freedom Party of Ontario has not yet been founded. At least two high-profile historical revisionist deniers of the Holocaust in Germany have been making headlines for their anti-Semitic behaviours. In Alberta, Jim Keegstra has lost his teaching job for telling his students a number of false allegations concerning Jewish people (he alleges a world-wide conspiracy, denies the Holocaust, etc.). Meanwhile, in Toronto, another anti-Semite, Ernst Zundel (a man hailing from Germany, originally) is distributing literature alleging that the number of Jewish people murdered by the Nazis has been exaggerated by Jews in an effort to get money from the German government. Understandably, therefore, there is concern that such false allegations will cause people to turn against Jews in Canada.
On October 11, 1983, four-members of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) testified to a Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Racial Minorities. They, proposed, among other things that the word “wilfully” be deleted from the criminal code provisions relating to hate speech (i.e., so that a person could be found guilty whether or not he “wilfully” did what he did, in order to make findings of guilt easier). So, on October 25, 1983, London (Ontario) talk radio host Wayne McLean invited the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Canadian Jewish Congress, Sharon Wolfe, to be his guest.
After discussing the CJC’s concerns and recommendations, McLean took calls from his listeners. He then spoke with Roy McMurtry (then Ontario’s Attorney General), who said that anti-Semitism was on the rise. He said that there is more anti-Semitic literature around, apparently because of the “aftermath…continuing occurrences in Lebanon” (a reference to ongoing terrorist activity in Lebanon, involving the anti-Jewish, anti-Israel Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah, and their Iranian and Syrian backers. NOTE: just two days prior to this broadcast, an American Marine barracks and a French barracks in Lebanon were each truck-bombed by a group calling itself the Islamic Jihad, killing 299 American and French soldiers).
After speaking with McMurtry, McLean took more calls from listeners, including Marc Emery. Emery, who had interviewed Jewish victims of the Holocaust and had written about the Holocaust in his London Metrobulletin newspaper, calls in to explain the dangers of criminalizing even false and hurtful speech. When McLean asks if Emery wishes that it had been possible to pass a law to stop the expression of hate speech in Germany, Emery points out that they did have such a law in Germany: a law that banned speaking ill of Nazis.
After taking calls from Emery and others, McLean also spoke with Alan Borovoy (general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association), who, like Emery, spoke against the criminalizing of speech.