AUDIO – DESCRIPTION:
On July 25, 1985, Wayne McLean and Ann Robel, hosts of “Hotline” (Radio 98, London, Ontario) held a 2-hour radio discussion with Jim Keegstra, who had just been convicted in Alberta on a criminal hate speech violation: he had been sentenced to pay a fine of $5,000.00. Keegstra denied several widely accepted historical accounts of what happened in Hitler’s Germany, and believed that Jewish people – as a collective/group – were involved in a conspiracy to take over the world. Keegstra had been a mayor and a school teacher. After spending some time interviewing Keegstra, Keegstra stayed on the line as the show took calls from listeners in the London area, including Freedom Party president Robert Metz and Marc Emery (Action Director). Metz pointed out that both Keegstra and his opponents were making the same mistake: essentially judging people as a collective (in this case, Jewish people). He pointed out that such collectivism and suppression of speech were exactly the sorts of things that Hitler used to oppress Jews and others, and that gave rise to the second world war. Emery – who had personally interviewed Holocaust survivors and published their accounts in his publications, including the London Metrobulletin – explained that although he rejected Keegstra’s claims, he thought it important for every individual – right or wrong – to be free to express his or her views. He also pointed out that law enforcement tends to apply censorship laws not against big media companies, but against individuals with limited financial means of defending themselves.
Five (and, again 11) years later, the Supreme Court of Canada would reject Keegstra’s challenge to the constitutionality of Canada’s criminal law against the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group. He received a one-year suspended sentence, one year of probation, and community service. Keegstra died in Alberta on June 2, 2014.